Trump and 18 others criminally indicted in Fulton County, Georgia

August 14, 2023

Former President Trump and 18 others were indicted on 41 felonies Monday evening by a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia related to actions surrounding that state’s 2020 election.

Among the 18 others indicted are Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, Jenna Ellis, and Sydney Powell.

The charges against Trump include violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), solicitation of violation of oath by public officer, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, conspiracy to commit filing false documents, and conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree.

All 19 defendants face racketeering charges. Georgia’s RICO statute is much stricter than the federal statute, including that the state law has a five year mandatory minimum sentence. But if found guilty, a suspect could face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each racketeering count.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney quietly signed the indictment at roughly 9pm ET, then dismissed the journalists who were gathered in his courtroom. It was not immediately clear whether the findings included an indictment of former President Trump or others in the case related to efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

At a news conference following the indictment’s unsealing, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) said it was handed up following the investigation into “a violation of Georgia law arising from a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state….to accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the Presidential term of office beginning on January 20th, ’21.”

She added that the participants in the conspiracy “took various actions in Georgia and elsewhere to block the counting of the votes of Presidential electors who were certified as the winners of Georgia’s 2020 general election.”

Rather than abiding by Georgia law to legally challenge the results of the election in court, Willis said the indicted conspirators “engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s Presidential election result.”

She further gave the defendants—all of whom have been issued arrest warrants—no later than noon on Friday, August 25 to “voluntarily surrender.”

Willis also bid the public to “please remember that everyone charged in this bill of indictment is presumed innocent.”

Trump’s 2024 reelection campaign responded to the indictment by calling Willis a “rabid partisan” and accused her of election interference.

On Monday, the courthouse stayed open several hours past its scheduled 5pm ET closing time as 10 witnesses were called to testify that day, including former Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan (R). Around 7:20pm ET MSNBC reported that the grand jury was weighing skipping hearing the final three witnesses, after hearing seven of them, before voting on submitting charges.

Just after 8pm ET, the grand jury began voting.

More than a week ago, Willis had told local media that the work in her two-and-a-half investigation was “accomplished” and “ready to go.” 

Around the same time, security barriers began going up around the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta in anticipation of an indictment and arraignment of the former President.

In her prosecution, Willis has reportedly focused on several areas: phone calls made to Georgia officials by Trump and his allies; false statements made by Trump associates before Georgia legislative committees; a panel of 16 Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors; the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021; alleged attempts to pressure a Fulton County election worker; and breaches of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county.

Willis’ prosecution began soon soon after Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, during which the then-President pressured his fellow Republican, who recorded the call, saying, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

On Sunday, CNN reported that Fulton County investigators were in possession of text message and emails directly connecting Trump’s legal team to an early January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County, Georgia. Further, according to CNN sources, the evidence in Fulton County investigators’ possession suggests that the breach was a top-down push by Trump’s team to access sensitive voting software. 

At last year’s hearings, the House Select January 6 Committee revealed that plans to access Georgia’s voting systems were discussed during a December 18, 2020 Oval Office meeting at which Trump himself was present. 

The indictment is the fourth for the former President—an unprecedented occurrence in U.S. history.

Ahead of any Georgia indictment, Trump has so far pleaded not guilty to a total of 78 criminal counts in three separate cases: Special Counsel Jack Smith’s national investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Smith’s case against Trump’s handling of classified doctuments post-presidency, and Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg’s New York State investigation into the falsifying of business records and conspiracy related to Trump’s alleged role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season.

The Georgia indictment makes more than 90 criminal counts against Trump in four separate cases.

Unlike federal court and New York State Supreme Court, trials in Georgia can be televised, though it’s up to the judge to decide whether there will be cameras in the courtroom.

The 98-page indictment against Trump in Georgia can be read here.

PHOTO: Atlanta’s Fulton County Courthouse in 2011

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