Georgia grand jury indicts Trump, 18 allies on election meddling charges

Georgia grand jury indicts Trump, 18 allies on election meddling charges

Former US president charged with 13 criminal counts related to alleged efforts to overturn election results in southern state

ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - A Georgia grand jury returned a 41-count indictment late Monday against former President Donald Trump and 18 of his political allies on charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the state's 2020 election results

The indictments were handed up after the grand jury spent the day hearing testimony from witnesses, including ex-lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan, and evaluating evidence from prosecutors.

Trump has now been indicted four times across both state and federal courts since he left office. The charges range from hush money payments to an adult film star, efforts to overturn national election results, unlawful retention of classified documents and efforts to prevent investigators from completing their duties.

Trump was charged in Georgia on Monday with 13 criminal counts, including violations of the Georgia state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, and conspiracy to commit false statements, among other crimes.

The RICO Act and state versions of the law were originally crafted to crack down on organized crime but have since been broadened to encompass other criminal enterprises involving multiple individuals.

The sprawling 98-page indictment says Trump and his co-defendants, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former senior Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, attorneys Sidney Powell and John Eastman and others, "constituted a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities."

That included many of the charges brought against Trump as well as other crimes, including making false statements, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury, according to the indictment.

"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," the indictment says.

There are an additional 30 unindicted co-conspirators.

The case against Trump and his allies came after a two-year investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who told reporters shortly after the indictment was publicly released that she will seek a trial date within six months.

"The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia's legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia's presidential election result," she said.

Willis sought to fend off criticism from Trump and his partisans, saying the decisions her office made were "based on the facts and the law. The law is completely nonpartisan. That's how decisions are made in every case."

Arrest warrants have been issued for the defendants, who are being given until noon on Aug. 25 to surrender to law enforcement. Willis said her office will file paperwork this week in county court asking a judge to approve a trial date within six months and said she will seek to try all 19 individuals together.

Her probe was sparked by a Jan. 2, 2021 call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged the senior state official to "find 11,780 votes,” the number he would have needed to win the battleground state. A recording of the call was later leaked to the press.

Willis' investigation went on to include a probe of fake local electors who attempted to certify fraudulent election results in Trump's favor.

President Joe Biden's win in the southern state was confirmed after two recounts that were followed by the state's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, ultimately signing off on the results despite Trump's fiery public protests.

Even before the indictments were officially rolled out, Trump's campaign raged against Willis as the ex-president has repeatedly done in the past, calling her "a rabid partisan who is campaigning and fundraising on a platform of prosecuting President Trump through these bogus indictments."

"The timing of this latest coordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes the true motivation driving their fabricated accusations," the campaign said in a statement.

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