Donald Trump and 18 of his associates have been indicted in Georgia over their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state to Joe Biden.
Prosecutors are using a statute normally associated with mobsters to accuse the former president, lawyers and other aides of a “criminal enterprise” to keep him in power.
The inquiry by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began shortly after the release of a recording of a January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
In the call, the then-president suggested that Raffensperger could “find 11,780 votes” – just enough to overtake Biden.
The criminal case comes as Trump leads the field of Republicans seeking their party’s 2024 presidential nomination. It is his fourth indictment this year, following charges in two federal cases, as well as a hush money case in New York.
Here is what you need to know:
What are the charges?
In total, Trump faces a total of 13 felony charges in the Georgia case, according to filings made available late on Monday on the Fulton County Clerk’s Office website.
The first among them is a violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) law, which is used to charge Trump and his associates for allegedly participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to overturn the state’s 2020 election result.
RICO is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Willis had been widely expected to use the law to charge Trump.
Here are some of the other charges:
- Trying to get a public official to violate an oath.
- Filing false documents
- Impersonating a public officer
- Theft and perjury
- Influencing witnesses
- False statements and writings.
What is Trump’s reaction?
The former president and his allies were quick to blast the case against him.
In an email soliciting fundraising for his campaign, sent out shortly after the indictment was made public on Monday night, Trump called the Georgia case “the FOURTH ACT of Election Interference on behalf of the Democrats in an attempt to keep the White House under Crooked Joe’s control and JAIL his single greatest opponent of the 2024 election”.
Karoline Leavitt, a spokesperson for a Trump-aligned super Political Action Committee (PAC), said Willis was joining other prosecutors pursuing cases against Trump with “their only goal being to arrest Donald Trump and prevent him from being on the ballot against Joe Biden”. PAC is an organisation to raise funds for political candidates in the US.
The super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc, also sent out an email blasting Willis – who is seeking re-election to her post next year and recently launched a new website – for “using the Trump indictment to fundraise and campaign”.
Those statements mirrored comments issued before the indictment by Trump’s campaign, which also argued Willis “strategically stalled her investigation to try and maximally interfere with the 2024 presidential race and damage the dominant Trump campaign”.
Officials with Trump’s campaign also called 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 true motivation driving their fabricated accusations”.
Who else was indicted?
Eighteen others were indicted, including some of his closest advisers and lawyers, as well as Georgia-based lawyers and political operatives.
They include lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro and Jeffrey Clark, as well as Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Ray Smith and Robert Cheeley, lawyers working for Trump in Georgia, were also indicted for allegedly lying – Smith to a Georgia Senate committee, and Cheeley to the Georgia Grand Jury.
Three of the 16 people who falsely claimed to be Georgia’s electoral college voters were indicted: David Shafer, then the state GOP chairman; Shawn Still, who was GOP finance chairman; and Cathleen Alston Latham.
Trump campaign official Michael Roman, who was allegedly involved in the fake electors scheme, was also indicted. Others who were charged include Stephen Lee, William Floyd, Trevian Kutti, Scott Hall and Misty Hampton.