Former President Donald Trump has been indicted again, this time on criminal charges in Georgia related to his efforts to reverse the election results in that state in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
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The charges were expected, as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has for the past two years investigated Trump and his allies. The former president faces dozens of other criminal charges in federal courts in Washington, D.C., and Florida, as well as New York state charges.
Also 41-count indictment also named 18 key aides and allies, including his attorney Rudy Giuliani, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, attorney Sidney Powell, attorney Kenneth Chesboro, attorney Jenna Ellis and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. (Read the indictment.)
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Trump is being charged with an array of crimes including violations of Georgia’s racketeering law, along with conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, and conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree.
The indictment states, “Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump. That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states.”
The indictment claims that Trump and his allies “constituted a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating a public ofﬁcer, forgery, ﬁling false documents, inﬂuencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury.”
The incidents cited in the 98-page indictment ranged from alleged efforts to harass and intimidate a Georgia election worker, Ruby Freeman, to the solicitation of Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes cast in the country and the state of Georgia and other states. Also cited are efforts by several of the defendants “to unlawullly access secure voting equipment and voter data.”
“In Georgia, members of the enterprise stole data, including ballot images, voting equipment software, and personal voter information. The stolen data was then distributed to other members of the enterprise, including members in other states,” according to the indictment.
Other instances cited related to efforts to enlist a false slate of presidential electors. Giuliani is singled out for allegedly making false statements to the members of the Georgia state Senate, as the former New York mayor was alleging widespread fraud in the election.
Trump has railed against Willis in recent weeks as the indictments approached, and his campaign released a statement shortly before the charges were revealed. The campaign called Willis “a rabid partisan who is campaigning and fundraising on a platform of prosecuting President Trump through these bogus indictments. Ripping a page from Crooked Joe Biden’s playbook, Willis has strategically stalled her investigation to try and maximally interfere with the 2024 presidential race and damage the dominant Trump campaign. All these corrupt Democrat attempts will fail.”
Speaking to reporters, Willis said that she is giving defendants until noon on Aug. 25 to surrender voluntarily or face arrest. She said that she would be seeking a trial date within the next six months, and planned to try all of the defendants together.
The proceedings on Monday contrasted to previous Trump indictments, as cameras were allowed into the courtroom as the grand jury handed the indictment to the presiding judge, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney.
Shortly before 9 p.m. ET, the major cable news networks and C-SPAN went live from inside the courthouse, capturing the the procession as the indictment was walked through hallways to the courtroom and handed to the judge for his sign off. No specifics of the charges were revealed in open court. “That’s it. Was it all you hoped it would be?” the judge quipped to reporters afterward.
“This is what open court looks like, and it is called open for a reason,” said MSNBC host Ari Melber.
But there was then a long wait for the indictments to land in the docket.
Fortunately for some of the networks, there were some high profile guest bookings: Rachel Maddow’s show featured Hillary Clinton, who was set to do the program before the timing of the indictments was certain. “The only satisfaction may be that the system is working, that all of the efforts by Donald Trump, his allies and enablers, to try to silence the truth, to try to undermine democracy, have been brought into the light and justice is being pursued,” she said. Sean Hannity, meanwhile, featured Paul Manafort, the convicted-and-then pardoned Trump campaign official, to talk about the “legal double standard” against Trump. Otherwise, networks settled in for commentary, analysis and more commentary.
As would be expected, there was much talk of how all four indictments set up an unprecedented moment in American history, as the GOP front-runner likely will be mired in court proceedings for much of the campaign, along with the prospect of lengthy trials with the possibility of a conviction. That said, Trump seems to have consolidated his support in the GOP primary, expanding his lead in polls compared to his closest rival, Florida Gov, Ron DeSantis.
More to come.
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