It is the morning after Donald Trump was indicted. Again. This one should have Trump particularly nervous for several reasons.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump along with 18 of his allies in a sprawling conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump himself faces 13 felony charges out of the 41 charges total against all defendants. (See below for full lists. Read the indictment here.)
The first charge listed applies to the 19 co-defendants, and it should scare all of them: violation of the Georgia Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Conviction under that law can bring up to 20 years in prison, and Willis has significant experience in using it. “I have right now more RICO indictments in the last 18 months, 20 months, than were probably done in the last 10 years out of this office,” Willis told The Washington Post last year.
The charges cover notorious events like the harassment of election workers, Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021 call to Georgia Secretary Brad Raffensperger, and the effort to set up a slate of fake electors (with some of the fake electors among those charged). It also covers events extending to September 2021, when Trump was still pressing Raffensperger to overturn the election and declare him the winner.
One of Trump’s favored defenses in his federal criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is that he was just listening to his lawyers, and you can’t charge him with a crime for doing what lawyers said he could do. Well, Willis has charged most of those lawyers with crimes themselves. Another of Trump’s defenses on the criminal charges is that everything he said was protected free speech. Georgia, however, has a law against making “a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation … in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of state government.” Trump is charged twice with conspiracy to commit false statements and writing, and twice with false statements and writings.
Four of the co-conspirators, including notorious Trump 2020 lawyer Sidney Powell, are charged with “[t]he unlawful breach of election equipment in Coffee County, Georgia.”
In addition to the seriousness of the RICO charges, Trump and his co-conspirators have another reason to be concerned: Pardons are all but impossible in Georgia. The governor has no pardon power and people seeking pardons have to have already completed any prison sentences, then wait five years before applying to a pardon board. That system was instituted as a state constitutional amendment in 1943 in response to a pardon-peddling scheme by former Gov. E.D. Rivers.
Willis has given the co-conspirators until noon on Aug. 25 to turn themselves in, or they will face arrest. She’s calling for a trial within six months, although given Trump’s penchant for delay and his already very crowded legal schedule, that’s unlikely to happen. Willis said Monday night that she planned to try all 19 defendants together, which seems like a challenge to find a big enough courtroom for all the defendants and their many lawyers, to say nothing of the complexity of the trial itself. Whenever the trial does happen, it is expected to be televised.
Facing charges along with Trump:
Jeffrey Clark: assistant attorney general at DOJ
Mark Meadows: Trump chief of staff
Rudy Giuliani: Trump attorney
John Eastman: Trump attorney
Ken Cheseboro: Trump attorney
Jenna Ellis: Trump attorney
Sidney Powell: Trump attorney
Ray Smith: Trump attorney in Georgia
Robert Cheeley: Trump attorney in Georgia
Michael Roman: campaign adviser who planned fake elector meeting
David Shafer: former state GOP chair and fake elector
Shawn Still: former state GOP finance chair (now state senator) and fake elector
Stephen Lee: accused of harassing Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman
Harrison Floyd: accused of harassing Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman
Trevian Kutti: accused of harassing Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman
Misty Hampton: former Coffee County elections supervisor
Cathleen Latham: former Coffee County GOP chair and fake elector
Scott Hall: another accused Coffee County conspirator
Charges Trump personally faces:
1 Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act
5 Solicitation of violation of oath by public officer
9 Conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer
11 Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
13 Conspiracy to commit false statements and writing
15 Conspiracy to commit filing false documents
17 Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
19 Conspiracy to commit false statements and writings
27 Filing false documents
28 Solicitation of violation of oath by public officer
29 False statements and writings
38 Solicitation of violation of oath by public officer
39 False statements and writings
Sign if you agree: No one is above the law, not even a former president.