Donald Trump charged in sweeping Georgia indictment alongside Republican allies: recap

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A grand jury in Georgia indicted Donald Trump late Monday night, accusing the former president and a slate of allies of trying to steal President Joe Biden’s win in the state during the 2020 presidential election.

The indictment is made up of 41 charges against 19 defendants, from Trump to his former attorney Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Trump and his presidential campaign criticized the charges, calling them politically motivated as the former president seeks his second term in office.

Here’s a recap of what you need to know about Trump’s indictment in Georgia – his fourth set of criminal charges.

What's the case against Donald Trump and his Republican allies?

The legal case centers on Georgia's RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. That kind of measure typically targets people engaged in organized crime.

Georgia: Trump charged under law designed to nab Mafia bosses. What it means for case.

Takeaways from Trump Georgia indictment: RICO charges, false statements and Kanye’s publicist

Republican candidates take low-key approach to Donald Trump's latest indictment

So far, most of Trump's Republican opponents have had a muted reaction to the Atlanta indictment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has often criticized prosecutors more than Trump, did so again in a conference call with New England reporters: "I think it's an example of this criminalization of politics. I don't think this is something that's good for the country."

Even Chris Christie, normally Trump's fiercest critic on legal issues, said the Georgia indictment is too much like the federal election case filed earlier this month by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

"Most of the time what you’d see here would be a state court deferring to a federal prosecution, especially if that federal indictment had already been issued," Christie told Fox News. "So, I think this was unnecessary, as to Donald Trump."

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has been more congenial to Trump, said "the four prosecutions against Trump are using novel and untested legal theories," including the Georgia case.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair, also defended Trump by saying "we've seen the legal system being weaponized against political opponents."

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has also been critical of Trump, said after the Atlanta indictment: "Over a year ago, I said that Donald Trump's actions disqualified him from ever serving as President again. Those words are more true today than ever before."

− David Jackson

The 2020 election was not stolen: Brian Kemp knocks Donald Trump on false claims

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp again criticized Trump for promoting false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election, saying in a social media post Tuesday that "the 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen."

"For nearly three years now, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward - under oath - and prove anything in a court of law," Kemp shared on X, the social media site previously known as Twitter. "Our elections in Georgia are secure, accessible, and fair and will continue to be as long as I am governor."

With regard to the next election, in which Trump is again a candidate, Kemp said: "The future of our country is at stake in 2024 and that must be our focus."

Trump has frequently attacked Kemp for his many refutations of fraud, and even backed a Republican primary challenger to the governor in 2022. Kemp easily won reelection .

− David Jackson

Brad Raffensperger: The famous election official at the center of the indictment

Remember Brad Raffensperger? The Georgia Secretary of State first made headlines for refusing to "find" enough votes to overturn Biden's victory in 2020.

In a recorded phone call that lasted over an hour, Trump pressured the Peach State's top election official to reverse election results, telling Raffensperger, "there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated."

Raffensperger's job is an elected position voters tend to pay little mind. But secretaries of state rose to prominence in the wake of the 2020 election, Raffensperger among the most famous. He has continued to deny claims of voter fraud, including before the House subcommittee on the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021.

“The most basic principles of a strong democracy are accountability and respect for the Constitution and rule of law. You either have it, or you don’t," he said in a statement following Trump's indictment.

Savannah Kuchar

What does RICO mean? What does racketeering mean?

The most notable charge against Trump is racketeering. Georgia prosecutors alleged Trump orchestrated a series of crimes with a common objective in mind – remaining in power despite his loss in the 2020 election.

The Georgia case is centered on the state’s RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The law was originally intended to combat organized crime, specifically aimed at prosecuting mafia bosses. Though the mafia is largely non-existent today, RICO laws are still used to battle other forms of criminal enterprise.

RICO laws allow prosecutors to connect multiple crimes among multiple defendants for them to tell a clear story. The charges in Georgia detail what prosecutors allege is a clear conspiracy to overturn Trump’s loss in the state, with the former president as the mastermind behind the crime.

− Ken Tran

What's happens after an indictment? Fani Willis and Donald Trump plan next steps

The parties involved in the latest indictment of Donald Trump spent Tuesday plotting their next moves.

For one thing, they have to work out schedules for arraignments of Trump and his 18 co-defendants, who will presumably plead not guilty to the charges.

At her late night news conference, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said the indicted individuals have until Friday, Aug, 25, to surrender or face arrest warrants. Fulton County officials said Trump would be treated like any other defendant, and that includes fingerprints and a mug shot.

There's also the distinct possibility that the arraignment will be televised.

In the meantime, Trump said he will hold a news conference on Monday to discuss the charges against him.

− David Jackson

Can Brian Kemp pardon Donald Trump?

If Trump is convicted and sentenced to prison in Georgia, he won't be able to rely on Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for an automatic pardon.

Instead, under the Georgia state constitution, the pardon power resides with a state board of pardons and paroles, although its members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Even so: The rules call for pardon candidates to have completed their sentences, have no pending charges, and wait five years.

In light of these challenges, some Republican legislators in Georgia have called for changing the law to grant Kemp the authority to pardon Trump.

In a statement, Kemp's office confirmed that "the Georgia Constitution does not give the governor pardon power. It is vested in the board of pardons and paroles."

− David Jackson

Willis wants a Trump trial date 'within six months'

Willis told reporters she would like a trial date for the Trump case "within the next six months," emphasizing RICO defendants get prison – not probation.

"It is not a probated sentence," she said during a brief news conference in which she outlined the charges in the indictment.

The Atlanta DA also said she would like to try all 19 defendants together.

The indictment outlines a "criminal conspiracy" to overturn the results of the 2020 election, she said. But Willis added that the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.


The Georgia indictment list: Donald Trump's 18 co-defendants

Aides, attorneys, and campaign officials: these are the kinds of people who were indicted along with Trump in the Georgia election case.

The list:

  • Rudy Giuliani, a Trump lawyer - and former New York City mayor - who was actively involved in the Georgia election protest;

  • Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff who helped organize many of the protests in Georgia and elsewhere;

  • John Eastman, a lawyer who developed legal theories on how Trump could spike some of Biden's electoral votes;

  • Kenneth Chesebro, an active pro-Trump lawyer;

  • Jeffrey Clark, a top Justice Department official;

  • Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign lawyer;

  • Robert Cheeley, a lawyer who promoted evidence-free claims of fraud;

  • Mike Roman, a Trump campaign official;

  • David Shafer, Georgia Republican Party chairman and one of the so-called "fake electors;"

  • Shawn Still, another fake Trump elector;

  • Stephen Lee, a pastor involved in alleged intimidation of election workers;

  • Harrison Floyd, leader of Black Voices for Trump;

  • Trevian Kutti, a publicist involved in alleged intimidation of election workers;

  • Sidney Powell, a Trump campaign lawyer who pushed conspiracy theories about the balloting;

  • Cathy Latham, a fake Trump elector tied to attempts to breach voting systems in Coffee County;

  • Scott Hall, accused of involvement in Coffee County election system breach;

  • Misty Hampton, Coffee County elections supervisor;

  • Ray Smith, a Trump campaign attorney.

David Jackson

Hillary Clinton: 'I don't feel any satisfaction' after Trump indictment

As the political world waited Monday night for Georgia officials to unseal the Trump indictments, MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" featured a most intriguing guest: Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic presidential nominee who lost the 2016 election to Trump said she took no joy in her rival's legal troubles.

“I don't feel any satisfaction," Clinton said. "I feel great, profound sadness that we have a former president who has been indicted for so many charges that went right to the heart of whether or not our democracy would survive."

She added: "This is a terrible moment for our country to have a former president accused of these terribly important crimes.”

− David Jackson

Rudy Giuliani, who pioneered the use of RICO, indicted on RICO charges

President Richard Nixon signed the federal RICO provisions into law in 1970, part of an effort to give authorities the power to go after the heads of Mafia families who managed to insulate themselves from prosecution.

Before he became a personal attorney to Trump and was caught up in the investigations swirling around the former president, it was Giuliani who put a national spotlight on RICO statutes. The former U.S. attorney wielded that law to prosecute the leaders of several mob families in New York in the late 1980s.

Last year, Giuliani's attorneys acknowledged that he was a target of the Georgia probe. According to the indictment, Giuliani repeatedly made false statements about the outcome of the election as he attempted to convince state lawmakers in several states to appoint electors who would support Trump.

Giuliani condemned the charges this week as “an affront” to democracy that harms the justice system.

A former federal prosecutor as well as mayor New York City, Giuliani said: “it’s just the next chapter in a book of lies with the purpose of framing President Donald Trump and anyone willing to take on the ruling regime.”

− John Fritze and David Jackson

Trump reaction to Georgia indictment

In a statement, Trump's legal team denounced the "shocking and absurd" events, including an accelerated timeline for witness testimony and the accidental release of a "presumed and premature indictment before the witnesses had testified or the grand jurors had deliberated."

The legal team − attorneys Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg − also said the "one-sided grand jury presentation relied on witnesses who harbor their own personal and political interests" against Trump.

− David Jackson

Trump was indicted, not convicted: What's the difference?

The indictment against Trump kicked off another criminal legal process for the former president, where at the end of it, he could be convicted.

An indictment is merely a formal document that alleges a person committed a crime. Trump is granted the presumption of innocence as the legal process moves forward.

A conviction is when a jury finds the defendant guilty. In Trump’s case, if there is a trial in the Georgia case, then a jury would vote at its conclusion on whether Trump is guilty of the crimes the indictment accuses him of.

− Ken Tran

What are Trump's other cases?

Trump faces several civil and criminal cases as he campaigns for president in 2024:

  • Trump was accused of trying to steal the 2020 presidential election by federal officials earlier this month.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James has a $250 million civil trial scheduled to start Oct. 2 against Trump’s namesake company on allegations of fraud for lying for a decade about the value of properties.

  • E. Jean Carroll won a $5 million defamation case against Trump, which he is appealing. She has another trial scheduled to begin in New York on Jan. 15 – the day of Iowa Republican presidential caucuses.

  • New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg has a criminal trial scheduled to start March 25 on 34 charges of falsifying business records to pay hush money before the 2016 election to a woman who claimed to have had sex with him.

  • Special counsel Jack Smith has a federal trial tentatively scheduled to start May 20 in Florida on charges related to classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate a year and a half after leaving the White House. Trump faces 40 charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, retaining national defense records and concealing the records from authorities.

− David Jackson and Bart Jansen

What is an indictment?

An indictment is a formal document that contains allegations that someone committed a crime. It includes the charges laid out against a person and is filed before a case can move forward in court, David Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor, previously told USA TODAY.

Weinstein said that an indictment means a grand jury decided that there’s “more likely than not” enough evidence – based on testimony – to move forward with charging a person. At least twelve jurors must be in agreement that a defendant allegedly committed a crime to issue an indictment.

After a person is indicted, they must go to trial where a jury will reach an unanimous decision on whether to pursue conviction.

Can Trump still run for president if he’s indicted?

Yes, Trump can continue his 2024 presidential campaign, even after being indicted again.

"Legally speaking, there is nothing to bar a former president from being indicted for a state crime, running for office – even convicted," said Jessica Levinson, founding director of Loyola Law School's Public Service Institute, previously told USA TODAY. "It really just becomes an issue of, practically, how could you run the country behind bars, if ever came to something like that?"

The Constitution only lays out three requirements to serve as president. You must be:

  • A natural-born citizen

  • At least 35 years old

  • A resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.

− USA TODAY staff

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump indicted in Georgia case with Republican allies: recap