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Trumps Georgia Indictment

Trump’s Georgia Indictment Explained [2023]

Former President Donald J. Trump and 18 others were indicted in Georgia on Monday on accusations that they tried to overturn the state’s 2020 election returns.

The Georgia indictment marks the fourth time in as many months that a grand jury has handed up an indictment against Trump – all in different jurisdictions and stemming from different accusations.

In this article, Board Certified Criminal Attorney Benson Varghese explains Trump’s Georgia indictment and recaps his pending cases.

Trumps Georgia Indictment Explained

Trump’s Georgia Indictment: What You Need to Know

Trump’s Georiga indictment, returned on August 14, 2023, by a grand jury in Fulton County, includes 13 charges against Trump, as well as charges against 18 other Trump allies. They are alleged to be part of a “criminal enterprise” seeking to overturn the Georgia election results.

All face charges under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a charge usually reserved for organized crime. Trump and his co-defendants have until August 25 to turn themselves in.

What is Racketeering?

Racketeering refers to the act of operating an illegal business or scheme in order to make a profit, perpetrated by a structured group. It is most commonly associated with organized crime. The term “racket” originally referred to a scam or deception, and over time, it came to encompass a broader range of illegal activities.

The Allegation in Georgia Against Trump

The 98-page indictment details an alleged plan that commenced after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential race. It alleges that those charged “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 alleges that Trump and his co-defendants used several schemes to try and reverse the electoral loss, including:

  • Making false statements to state legislators and other top state officials;
  • Generating fake Electoral College documents and recruiting supporters to cast false votes at the Georgia Capitol;
  • Harassing Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman;
  • Corruptly soliciting senior Justice Department officials and then-Vice President Mike Pence;
  • Tampering with voting machines in Coffee County and stealing data.

Read the full 92-page indictment against Trump and his co-defendants here.

The Charges Against Trump

In total, Trump’s Georgia indictment accuses him of a total of 13 felony counts, including violating Georgia’s racketeering act, three counts of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit filing false documents; filing false documents; and two counts of making false statements and writings.

Will the Indictment Stand?

Georgia’s RICO Act, GA Code § 16-14-4, makes it a crime through racketeering activity to acquire or maintain any interest or control of any enterprise. Prosecutors allege the actions of President Trump and others were to maintain interest in the enterprise of the Republican party. Beyond being an unprecedented use of the statute, the indictment reaches far to qualify the activity in question as racketeering.

Under Georgia law, racketeering includes false statements and writings or false lien statements against public officers or public employees in violation of Code Section 16-10-20 or 16-10-20.1. This in turn is the knowing and willful falsification of a material fact …in any matter…within any jurisdiction of any department or agency of state government or any other subdivision of the state. Another allegation of racketeering is the filing of the Certificate of Votes by Electors from Georgia was a forgery.

Expect numerous attacks on the indictment.

The 18 Co-Defendants Named in the Indictment

Trump and 18 others were accused of engaging in a “criminal enterprise” to keep Trump in power after his loss in the 2020 election. Here are the 18-co-defendants charged in the Trump Georgia Indictment:

  1. Rudy Giuliani, Lawyer
    Giuliana is accused of 13 counts including racketeering; solicitation of violation of oath by public officer; false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
  2. John Eastman, Lawyer
    Eastman is accused of nine counts including racketeering; solicitation of violation of oath by public officer; conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit filing false documents; and filing false documents.
  3. Mark Meadows, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff
    Meadows is accused of racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.
  4. Kenneth Chesebro, Lawyer
    Chesebro is accused of seven counts, including racketeering; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
  5. Jeffrey Clark, Trump’s Justice Department lawyer
    Clark is accused of racketeering and criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings.
  6. Jenna Ellis: Lawyer
    Ellis is accused of racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.
  7. Ray Stallings Smith III, Lawyer
    Smith is accused of 12 counts, including racketeering; solicitation of violation of oath by public officer; false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
  8. Robert David Cheeley, Lawyer
    Cheeley is accused of 10 counts, including racketeering; 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; solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer; false statements and writings and perjury.
  9. Michael Roman, a Trump 2020 Campaign Official
    Roman is accused of seven counts, including racketeering; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; conspiracy to commit filing false documents; and conspiracy to commit false statements and writings.
  10. David James Shafer, a Pro-Trump “Elector”
    Sharer is accused of eight counts, including racketeering; impersonating a public officer; forgery in the first degree; false statements and writings; and criminal attempt to commit filing false documents.
  11. Shawn Still, a Pro-Trump “Elector”
    Still is accused of seven counts including racketeering; impersonating a public officer; false statements and writings; forgery in the first degree; and criminal attempt to commit filing false documents.
  12. Stephen Lee, a Police Chaplain
    Lee is accused of five counts including racketeering; criminal attempt to commit influencing witnesses; influencing witnesses; and conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements and writings.
  13. Harrison Floyd, a Trump 2020 Campaign Worker
    Floyd is accused of three counts, including racketeering; conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements and writings; and influencing witnesses.
  14. Trevian Kutti, Former Publicist for Kanye “Ye” West
    Kutti is accused of three counts, including racketeering; conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements and writings; and influencing witnesses.
  15. Sidney Powell, Lawyer
    Powell is accused of seven counts, including racketeering; conspiracy to commit election fraud; conspiracy to commit computer theft; conspiracy to commit computer trespass; conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy; and conspiracy to defraud the state.
  16. Cathleen Latham: A Pro-Trump “Elector”
    Latham is accused of 11 counts including racketeering; impersonating a public officer; forgery in the first degree; false statements and writings; criminal attempt to commit filing false documents; conspiracy to commit election fraud; conspiracy to commit computer theft; conspiracy to commit computer trespass; conspiracy
  17. Scott Hall: Bail Bondsman
    Hall is accused of seven counts including racketeering; conspiracy to commit election fraud; conspiracy to commit computer theft; conspiracy to commit computer trespass; conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy; and conspiracy to defraud the state.
  18. Misty Hampton: Coffee County Elections Supervisor Hampton is accused of seven counts including racketeering; conspiracy to commit election fraud; conspiracy to commit computer theft; conspiracy to commit computer trespass; conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy; and conspiracy to defraud the state.

Trump's Georgia Indictment Explained [2023]

Racketeering – Georgia’s RICO ACT

A total of 41 charges have been brought against Trump and 18 co-defendants. While not everyone faces the same counts, all have been charged with the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. There’s a similar federal law on the books, which was originally designed to prosecute mob bosses who were leading complex criminal enterprises. RICO allows the government to go after all individuals of a corrupt organization.

Georgia’s version, which is one of the more expansive state versions, makes it a crime to participate in, acquire or maintain control of an “enterprise” through a “pattern racketeering activity” or to conspire to do so. Racketeering activity means to commit, attempt to commit – or to solicit, coerce or intimidate someone else to commit – one of more than three dozen underlying state crimes in Georgia law.

In this case, it basically allows prosecutors to weave together several alleged crimes — including conspiracy to defraud the state, false statements and writings, impersonating a public officer, forgery, computer theft, and others — into one charge that carries a punishment of 5 to 20 years in state prison. Georgia prosecutors will need to prove that Trump and his co-defendants were part of a criminal enterprise working together towards a command criminal purpose.

Overview of Trump’s Criminal Cases

Trump has the distinction of being the first sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal accusations. Currently, he is facing four indictments on both state and federal levels. This is a brief breakdown of the four criminal cases against him. In every jurisdiction, Trump has entered a plea of not guilty.

1. Hush Money Payments (State Charges – New York)

On March 30, 2023, Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records. These charges stemmed from allegations that covert payments were made to a former adult film star in 2016. It’s alleged that these transactions were part of an effort to keep Stormy Daniels quiet about her claimed romantic involvement with Trump. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. If found guilty of the felony charge of falsifying business records, Trump could face up to four years in a New York state penitentiary. Learn more.

2. Classified Documents (Federal Charges – Florida)

On June 8, 2023, Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida, accusing him of mishandling classified materials after he left the White House. Spearheaded by Special Counsel Jack Smith, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, which includes 37 federal felony violations. Of the charges against him, the most severe could result in a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Learn more.

3. Election Interference (Federal Charges – Washington D.C.)

On August 1, 2023, Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington D.C. on allegations he attempted to subvert the 2020 presidential election and hinder the smooth succession of power. Between Election Day 2020 and January 6, 2021, it’s alleged that Trump led a widespread effort to challenge the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidential win. With his associates, Trump is believed to have spread misinformation about voter fraud, urged Republican officials in states taken by Biden to dismiss the outcomes, crafted fake elector lists, and leaned on Vice President Mike Pence to single-handedly overturn the genuine results. This series of events culminated on January 6, as a faction of Trump’s followers stormed the Capitol, disrupting the orderly handover of power. Special Counsel Jack Smith is at the helm of this case. Learn more.

4. Racketeering – RICO  (State-Charges – Georgia)

On August 12, 2024, Donald Trump and 18 associates were indicted by an Atlanta-area grand jury on accusations of attempting to reverse Trump’s 2020 election defeat in the state. While not everyone faces the same counts, all were charged with violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO – a charge usually reserved for organized crime. The indictment alleges Trump and his allies worked as a criminal enterprise and conspired to derail the Electoral College process and pressured Georgia officials to undo the election results. The case is spearheaded by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. If convicted of a RICO violation in Georiga, the defendant faces between five to 20 years in prison.

can trump still be president after the indictment

Can Trump Still Run for President?

Absolutely! The prerequisites for pursuing the U.S. Presidency are outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The criteria require that a candidate:

  • Is a natural-born U.S. citizen
  • Is at least 35 years old
  • Has resided in the U.S. for a minimum of 14 years

There aren’t any specific conditions that prevent Trump, or anyone else, from vying for the presidency even while under state or federal indictment. Interestingly, Trump has used these legal actions to bolster his presidential campaign.

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