Donald Trump’s defiant march deeper into infamy barely broke stride Tuesday after a grand jury in Georgia finally handed up another long-awaited indictment of the former president — his fourth in five months.
“Communism has finally reached America’s shores,” Trump’s campaign, seemingly buoyed by his mounting legal woes, declared in a fundraising missive that accused “rogue prosecutors” of “criminalizing dissent.”
Monday’s 98-page, 41-count indictment includes 13 charges against Trump himself while also indicting 18 co-conspirators, all of whom are accused of violating the state’s RICO law: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Unlike in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C., where Trump is also facing charges, televised court proceedings are more the norm than the exception in Georgia, which means interested Canadians will be able to follow along.
“There’s going to be a forest full of attorneys with so many defendants,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.
“Many of them will want to have their own counsel. So it’s going be a courtroom full of lawyers on the defence side of the courtroom, and some of them probably will be playing to the cameras.”
Now that all four indictments are unsealed, here’s a look at some of the details of each one.
Charges: 41 in total, spread out among 19 co-defendants, including violation of the RICO Act, making false statements, forgery, perjury, impersonating a public officer, infuencing witnesses and conspiracy to commit election fraud.
Allegation: “Trump and the other defendants charged in this indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and wilfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” the indictment reads. “That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Ga., elsewhere in the State of Georgia and in other states.”
RICO: The Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act was first enacted in 1970 as part of a federal crackdown on organized crime. Numerous states have since enacted similar statutes. Broadly speaking, prosecutors must show an accused took part in two or more specific, related criminal acts — the “racketeering” component — as part of an ongoing “enterprise,” in this case the bid to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.
Indicted co-conspirators: The list includes some of the most prominent members of Trump’s post-election entourage, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who targeted New York City crime bosses under RICO in the 1980s while serving as Manhattan district attorney. Also indicted are constitutional lawyer John Eastman, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sidney Powell, who famously vowed to “release the Kraken” with her doomed legal effort to uncover non-existent voter fraud.
Televised? Likely, since Georgia is a jurisdiction that’s long been receptive to allowing cameras in the courtroom. That’s going to make it difficult to escape, said Bullock: “It’s going to get tremendous viewership, and then bring in people who aren’t viewing it themselves. They’re gonna hear about it.”
Charges: Four felony counts, including obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy against rights.
Allegation: The indictment accuses Trump of perpetrating three separate criminal conspiracies: to “impair, obstruct or defeat” the government’s efforts to determine and certify the election results; to “obstruct and impede” the congressional effort to certify the outcome; and “a conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.”
Indicted co-conspirators: None. The indictment mentions but does not name multiple unindicted co-conspirators, part of what experts say is a strategy by special counsel Jack Smith to ensure a speedy trial. Prosecutors have asked for that trial to begin as early as Jan. 2 of next year. Powell, Eastman and Giuliani are all widely believed to be among those unnamed Trump allies.
Televised? Possibly. Broadcasters are mounting an effort to convince U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to entertain a petition to allow cameras, a rarity in federal criminal proceedings in the U.S. The likelihood of a televised trial in Georgia “has no impact at all on what we’re seeking in the Trump D.C. criminal case,” said Dan Shelley, president of the U.S. Radio Television Digital News Association.
Charges: 40 felony charges against Trump, including 31 counts of wilful retention of national defence information, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice, concealing documents and making false statements. Longtime aide Walt Nauta faces nine charges. A superceding indictment handed up late last month added multiple charges, including four against Carlos De Oliveira, an employee at the former president’s country-club compound in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
Allegations: The original indictment accused Trump and Nauta of conspiring to retain numerous classified documents after leaving the White House and of trying to thwart Justice Department efforts to get them back. The updated indictment added claims that Trump asked De Oliveira to delete security camera footage, and accused the former president of sharing classified information with people lacking clearance.
Indicted co-conspirators: Nauta and De Oliveira.
Televised? Unlikely. Federal trials are rarely televised in the U.S. The RTDNA’s efforts will seek to convince the Judicial Conference, the policy-making arm of the U.S. court system chaired by Roberts, to allow cameras at all of Trump’s trials, but their main goal is getting the D.C. trial televised.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump, first unsealed in early April, is by now best known as the historic first time a former U.S. president has been indicted on criminal charges. But on its legal merits, experts say it packs the weakest punch.
Charges: 34 counts of falsifying business records “with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof” — a wrinkle that elevates what would typically be misdemeanor charges to the level of a felony.
Allegations: Trump is accused of trying to conceal a series of so-called “hush-money” payments his campaign made to various individuals during his 2016 presidential campaign, including adult film star Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors are expected to argue that some or all of those payments comprised illegal campaign contributions.
Indicted co-conspirators: None, although evidence given by Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who was convicted in 2018 on tax evasion and campaign law violations for his role in the schemes, is central to the case.
Televised? Doubtful — New York has long been reticent about cameras in the courtroom, although state legislators are trying to advance measures that would ease some of those restrictions in an effort to reduce opacity in New York’s legal system.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 15, 2023.