Key Takeaways from the Trump Indictment in Georgia


Former President Donald J. Trump was indicted for a fourth time on Monday, this time over what prosecutors in Atlanta described as his and his allies’ efforts to unlawfully undo his election loss in Georgia in 2020.

The indictment follows a lengthy investigation by Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and includes 13 charges against Mr. Trump, as well as charges against 18 other Trump allies who Ms. Willis said were part of a “criminal enterprise” seeking to overturn the Georgia election results.

Here’s what to know.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Trump and his allies under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, which allows them to tie together various crimes committed by different people by arguing that they were acting together for a common criminal goal.

Georgia’s RICO Act is patterned after a federal law that was passed to combat organized crime groups but in recent years has been used effectively in white-collar crime and political corruption cases.

At its heart, the statute requires prosecutors to prove the existence of an “enterprise” and a “pattern of racketeering activity.” Ms. Willis said 19 defendants were part of a criminal enterprise that tried to “accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the president’s office.”

The charges outlined in the indictment reach far beyond Mr. Trump to some of his closest allies. They include Mark Meadows, who was Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and lawyer for Mr. Trump.

Also charged are several more lawyers who are accused of working to try to overturn the election: Sidney Powell, who once promised to “release the Kraken” in exposing purported election fraud; John C. Eastman, who helped promote the idea of using bogus Trump electors in states where Mr. Trump lost; and Kenneth Chesebro, who also played a central role in that effort.

The sprawling nature of the racketeering case is noted in the indictment, with prosecutors citing conduct in Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania that they say furthered the defendants’ efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power.

Ms. Willis said late on Monday that she plans to try all 19 defendants together.

The indictment bundles together several efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse the election results in Georgia. None of the 19 defendants is accused of taking part in all of those different schemes, but under the RICO law, prosecutors have to prove only that each one broke state laws as part of a continuing criminal enterprise with the same overarching goal.

Several of the individual counts stem from false claims of election fraud that Mr. Giuliani and two other Trump lawyers, Robert Cheeley and Ray Smith III, made at legislative hearings in December 2020.

Another batch of charges concerns a plan Mr. Trump’s supporters carried out to vote for a false slate of pro-Trump electors and send a forged document to Congress claiming those electors were legitimate.

A third raft of charges accuses several Trump allies of conspiring to steal voter data and tamper with voting equipment at the elections office in Coffee County, Ga.

Ms. Willis said on Monday that she was giving Mr. Trump until noon on Aug. 25 to surrender in Fulton County, where he would be arraigned on the charges and enter a plea.

When Mr. Trump was indicted in New York, he was able to surrender and avoid some of the standard procedures for most people who are arrested, such as having his mug shot taken and being handcuffed.

Patrick Labat, the Fulton County sheriff, said this month that unless he was told otherwise, Mr. Trump would be booked in the same way as any other defendant.

Still, the Secret Service could try to change the sheriff’s plans.

Mr. Trump lashed out at Ms. Willis after the indictment, suggesting that she had charged him to further her own political standing and seizing on the fact that an improper copy of the indictment had reportedly been uploaded to a court website even before the grand jurors voted.

Earlier in the day, Reuters reported that a document that appeared to be a docket entry for an indictment against Mr. Trump had been posted, and then removed, from the Fulton County court’s website. A spokesman for the court called the document “fictitious,” and the court clerk, Ché Alexander, declined to discuss what had happened in detail.

Mr. Trump and his allies said it was a sign that the prosecution saw the grand jury’s vote, which took place later in the day, as a foregone conclusion.

Richard Fausset, Danny Hakim and Anna Betts contributed reporting from Atlanta.

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