“Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment 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”
Around midnight on August 14, 2023, after hearing evidence presented by first person fact witnesses who were in the room where it happened, a grand jury composed of ordinary American citizens living in Fulton County, Georgia, charged Donald Trump and 18 Republican allies with a sweeping criminal racketeering scheme to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. The indictment alleges that Donald Trump lied to the American people over and over again. The indictment also asserts that Trump falsely claimed election fraud occurred but what HE tried to do WAS in fact election fraud. The indictment references the threat of violence including mob violence used by Trump and his co-conspirators to intimidate and pressure people to comply.
This indictment lays out a RICO case, which is a conspiracy case “on steroids” with at least four interrelated criminal pressure campaigns to keep Trump in power.
1) pressuring governmental officials to overturn the election results,
2) using a false elector scheme,
3) breaching the voting machines in Coffee County, and
4) obstruction and cover up.
This was a multipronged coup plot. It failed in its goal of keeping Trump in the presidency. But it could have succeeded.
- The indictment… spells out 161 separate acts that prosecutors say were taken to further the alleged criminal conspiracy, including events like Mr. Giuliani’s false testimony about election fraud to Georgia lawmakers in early December and Mr. Trump’s telephone call to the Georgia secretary of state in early January urging him to “find” 12,000 votes.
The indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of his most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.
Mr. Trump, running again for president and the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.
And the new indictment presents the most extensive set of accusations yet against the former president, alleging a vast conspiracy reaching from the Oval Office to the Georgia Republican Party to an election official in a rural county. (NYT)
The state racketeering law, originally designed to dismantle organized crime groups, allows prosecutors to bundle together crimes committed by different people if they are perceived to be in support of a common objective. The indictment cited acts taken in several other states, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia. Read more about the racketeering law here.
WHY THE GEORGIA CASE IS SO CONSEQUENTIAL
This case in Georgia has the potential to break through the partisan alternate fact-free alternate universe where millions of Republicans are stuck because they only consume conservative media. If the trial is televised as it is happening– the truth will come out without the Fox filter at long last.
This case also has the potential to reset the American political landscape by imposing real consequences on a group of Republicans who thought they were the cool guys hanging out with the gangster boss they thought would be unbeatable. This RICO case has the potential to flip the script on Trump.
The 18 charged co-defendants will likely be eager to turn state’s evidence because there is a mountain of compelling evidence here (read the article in Vanity Fair -see the link at the end of this post) and the sentences will be very harsh.
These defendants are going to change their minds about Donald Trump being such a cool dude. In other RICO cases, indicting this many co-conspirators encourages many of them to work out plea deals to get lenient sentences. Typically, they also turn against each other- blaming other co-conspirators for what went down. That is already happening with Jenna Ellis, for example, and it will predictably happen with other co-defendants pointing fingers at each other.
If convicted, each defendant could face a minimum of 5 years in prison without a hope for a pardon until 5 years after release from prison. State prisons are not nice places and Georgia prisons are notoriously bad. These 18 co-defendants won’t want to go to a Georgia state prison. Many of them should want to get on the right side of history as fast as possible because now is the time to do that and the clock is running.
Unlike the documents case in Florida, where Trump is paying the legal bills for his co-defendants to maintain control over them, I doubt Trump has the money left to pay for all these Georgia co-defendants.
Here are more reasons why the Georgia case could be hugely consequential:
- The case uses the Georgia RICO statute which allows prosecutors to tell the entire sprawling story of a criminal enterprise from beginning to end. Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump and only Trump in the federal case in DC is built for speed and is likely to be the first trial Americans will be exposed to, but it does not yet pull in the entire gang that worked with Trump to overturn the election not only in Georgia but elsewhere. The Georgia indictment also powerfully reports the stories and consequences of this scheme on average Americans, election workers and others who were just doing their jobs as required by the laws of our country in the administration of elections.
- If Trump is convicted under Georgia state law, he cannot be pardoned by the president or the Georgia governor. If Trump regains the presidency or if another complicit Republican wins the presidential election, any federal conviction can be pardoned but state convictions cannot. Even the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, a Republican, would not be able to pardon Trump or others who are convicted. Only a parole board has that power in Georgia. Of course, the parole board is appointed by the governor. As a result, there will be a lot of pressure on Governor Kemp to remove certain members of that parole board who might not play along and appoint other members to that parole board who will agree to grant a pardon to Trump and the other Republicans who were indicted and get convicted. However, Brian Kemp has been on the right side of history. He has defended the election in Georgia saying that it was conducted fairly, and Georgians should trust the result. He has stood strong against Trump’s lies. He could be a model for Republicans who are ready to break from Trump. Stay tuned.
- The RICO statute requires a period of time in prison (at least 5 years for each count and up to 20 years as a maximum) if someone is convicted. Once convicted, a sentence of probation is not an option. A portion of the conviction could be served on probation, but, if convicted, the person has to at least serve some time in prison.
Perhaps the most important question is whether this case will be tried in time for the American people to understand who they are voting for in November 2024. It is such a huge case with so many defendants who will be raising objections and motions it might not be ready to try before the election in 2024. However, if many of the co-conspirators agree to plea deals in exchange for providing honest testimony at time of trial, that would cut down on the number of defendants and defense attorneys raising arguments and objections. If enough co-conspirators flip, the trial might take place before the election.
Jack Smith’s indictment naming Trump as the only defendant before a federal judge, Tanya Chutkan, who is committed to having a speedy trial to thwart Trump’s attempts to taint the jury pool and intimidate witnesses, is the trial most likely to take place before the 2024 election. But it might not be televised and therefore subject to the conservative media filter that will not honestly report the evidence to its viewers and listeners.
This indictment further exposes the Republican Party as an antidemocratic party– one that is ready, willing, and able to dismantle democracy if it means it could stay in power. Republican leaders have a choice at this juncture. They could use this moment to reset and retool their party, or they could continue down the path of literally no return: the end of our democracy. We have seen that many Republicans want to keep the truth from Americans long enough for Trump to possibly win re-election. They don’t want a speedy trial. But the best hope for our country is to have a trial that exposes what happened with unvarnished facts and evidence that is accessible to everyone without a filter from talking heads (especially conservative rightwing talking heads) before November 2024.
Some Republicans are rising to the occasion by standing up for a speedy trial. One of them is Judge Luttig, a highly respected conservative judge who testified at the January 6th hearing and pleaded with Republicans to stop lying about the election for the sake of our country.
Nearly a dozen Republican-appointed former judges and high-ranking federal senior legal officials on Monday endorsed the January 2, 2024, trial date proposed by special counsel Jack Smith in his 2020 election interference criminal case against Donald Trump.
The amicus brief was submitted to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as a project of the Democracy 21 Education Fund in the January 6, 2021, case against Trump. It comes as the former president and his team look to push the case until after the election, though the final decision on a trial date will come down to presiding Judge Tanya Chutkan. Her decision is likely to come by the end of this month.
The brief, which stresses a speedy trial is in the American public’s interest, amounts to a considerable rebuke of Trump’s legal team’s calls for the proceedings to be drawn out. The Republican credentials of its authors fly in the face of the former president’s repeated argument that his trial’s timeline is a partisan exercise against him. (CNN)
This is hopeful.
But, so far, most GOP leaders are failing to push the reset button. Newt Gingrich is calling for the Republican led House of Representatives in DC to stop funding for the DOJ to try to force Jack Smith to drop his indictments of Trump. Republicans in Georgia are trying to remove Fani Willis as the prosecutor in Fulton County and replace her with a submissive DA who will dismiss this case.
If either of these things come to pass, a majority Americans will be outraged. They will understand that the Republican Party is trying to obstruct justice. Just like the reversal of Roe v Wade, Republicans will likely rue the day they try to cover up and whitewash what we now know was an extensive, if thwarted, coup plot. It was a bold, brash, desperate and arrogant attempt to overturn a free and fair election to keep Trump in power. The evidence will show the coup, driven by Trump’s insatiable need to win, began long before the election happened and continued after the attack on the capitol.
A majority of Americans including the all-important independent voters who decide presidential elections, aren’t stupid or brainwashed enough to believe there is nothing to see here. They will understand if the GOP engages in a cover up. It would be a continuation of the coup plot itself. Complicit Republicans would be accessories after the fact.
ON THE PRECIPICE OF LOSING OUR DEMOCRACY
We could still lose our democracy. The coming election in 2024 could be the last democratic election we have in our country if Trump wins re-election or another strongman like De Santis wins the GOP nomination and gains the presidency. On the other hand, 2024 could be the start of renewed energy in our country in support of our shared democracy. In short, the 2024 election will make or break our democracy.