The former president—who swore an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution—has been indicted over his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Former NC Congressman Mark Meadows was indicted too.
Former president Donald Trump has been criminally charged in the state of Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to an indictment issued late Monday night.
Trump has been charged with 13 counts in this case, including a count of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which calls for a minimum sentence of at least five years in prison and a maximum of up to 20 years in prison.
Trump is also charged with soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree, and conspiring to file false documents.
Eighteen others have also been indicted by an Atlanta grand jury in this case, all of whom were similarly charged with RICO violations. Trump, along with these co-conspirators, is accused of orchestrating a “criminal enterprise” to reverse the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
That includes former NC Congressman Mark Meadows and Sidney Powell, Trump’s ex-attorney, who is from Raleigh.
“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,” the indictment reads.
Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, both of whom served as Trump’s lawyers in the past, were also charged. Coffee County Elections Supervisor Misty Hampton, fake GOP elector Cathy Latham, and Trump ally Scott Hall have also been charged for their alleged roles in the breach of voting equipment in Coffee County, Ga. Jenna Ellis and Powell, both former Trump campaign lawyers, were also charged for their roles in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
Others charged include Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; Kenneth Chesebro, a pro-Trump lawyer; and Jeffrey Clark, a former top Justice Department official.
The NC Connections
The grand jury that issued the indictment heard evidence that Meadows played a huge role behind the scenes in pushing Trump’s lies that the election was stolen.
The indictment documents say that Meadows set up the phone calls between Trump and Georgia election officials to try to pressure them to circumvent the legal results showing that Biden won the state by around 12,000 votes.
Meadows also attended a White House meeting where discussions of nonexistent voter fraud in Georgia were discussed, tried to observe an election audit in Cobb County, Ga., and sought to pressure state election officials himself.
How did we get here?
This indictment follows a two-and-a-half year investigation spearheaded by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Willis’ investigation began after news broke of Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes for him.
The indictment lays out Trump’s various efforts to overturn the election results in the state.
Prosecutors allege the former president and several co-defendants created false Electoral College documents and recruited individuals to convene and cast false Electoral College votes at the Georgia State Capitol in Fulton County on Dec. 4, 2020. The eight Republican activists who falsely claimed to be Georgia’s presidential electors for Trump have taken immunity deals and have agreed to testify.
The indictment also alleges that several of those charged attended hearings in Fulton County in Dec. 2020 and made false claims of fraud taking place during the 2020 election. Several of the defendants also allegedly “corruptly solicited” high-ranking Justice Department officials to make false statements to government officials in Fulton County.
The indictment also alleges that some of the defendants solicited then-Vice President Mike Pence to violate the Constitution and federal law by “unlawfully rejecting” Electoral College votes in Fulton County.
Powell and several other co-defendants are also accused of tampering with voting machines in Georgia, and elsewhere, and stealing data belonging to Dominion Voting Systems.
The former president’s harassment of election officials, workers, and volunteers is also cited in the indictment.
“Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, falsely accused Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman of committing election crimes in Fulton County, Georgia,” the indictment reads. “These false accusations were repeated to Georgia legislators and other Georgia officials in an effort to persuade them to unlawfully change the outcome of the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.”
“In furtherance of this scheme, members of the enterprise traveled from out of state to harass Freeman, intimidate her, and solicit her to falsely confess to election crimes she did not commit,” the indictment goes on.
Freeman, a former volunteer in Fulton County, told Congress during the fourth house hearing on the Jan. 6 insurrection last year that there is “nowhere she feels safe.”
“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” she said. “The President of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small-business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”
Trump has been indicted three other times this year. Most recently, Special Counsel Jack Smith and his prosecutors charged Trump earlier this month with conspiring to defraud the United States for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In June, Trump was indicted by Smith over his mishandling of classified documents that he kept after leaving office. And finally, in April, Trump was indicted in New York state over allegations that he made hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with him.
What makes this indictment different from the Special Counsel’s cases, however, is that because it’s a state case, Trump—the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary—would not be able to pardon himself. In Georgia, that power lies solely with the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and for the Board to grant a pardon, Trump would have to complete his sentence at least five years prior to applying for a pardon.
Democratic leaders reacted to the news of the former president’s latest indictment, calling it an important step in holding Trump accountable for his actions.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a joint statement that Monday’s indictment—and the three prior ones—show “a repeated pattern of criminal activity by the former president.”
“This indictment is the most serious and most consequential thus far and will stand as a stark reminder to generations of Americans that no one, including a president of the United States, is above the law,” the statement reads.
House Republicans, meanwhile, defended Trump and criticized Willis.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy—who owes much of his political success to Trump—said the “radical DA in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham.”
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a close ally of both Meadows and Trump, said Willis’ indictment is “just the latest political attack in the Democrats’ WITCH HUNT against President Trump.”
“He did nothing wrong!” Jordan tweeted.
Willis has given Trump and the other defendants until Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender. Prosecutors said they hope to try all of the defendants in one trial within the next six months.
[Cardinal & Pine Political Reporter Michael McElroy contributed to this reporting.]