Fulton grand jury indicts Trump, members of his inner circle

Former President Donald Trump and several members of his inner circle were indicted Monday in Fulton County’s sweeping investigation into 2020 election interference.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis held a press conference late Monday night to briefly discuss the grand jury’s felony conspiracy and racketeering charges being levied against the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner and other allies that include his former chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and ex-Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.

In all, 19 people were indicted on 41 charges after the grand jury’s vote to hand up indictments and Fulton Judge Robert McBurney’s unsealing of the charges Monday evening.

“All elections in our nation are administered by the states, which are given the responsibility of ensuring a fair process and an accurate counting of the votes,” Willis said late Monday evening. “That includes elections for presidential electors, Congress state officials and local offices. The state’s role in this process is essential to the functioning of our democracy.”

“The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Willis said.

The defendants will have until noon on Friday, Aug. 25 to turn themselves in, Willis said.

“I remind everyone here that an indictment is only a series of allegations based on a grand jury determination of probable cause to support the charges. It is now the duty of my office to prove these charges in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Willis said.

Willis said she plans to push for a trial to be held within the next six months, but acknowledged that will be up to the judge.

Felony charges of false statements, forgery, racketeering and election fraud, solicitation of a government employee have also been filed against in the case that’s been more than a year in the making.

The sweeping probe centers on Trump and a number of his supporters who lodged unfounded claims that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 election in Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes. In early 2022, Willis launched the investigation after a recording of a phone call where Trump asked Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes was released to the public.

McBurney is expected to hear Trump’s plea on the six criminal charges in the coming days. Willis, an Atlanta Democrat, has been accused of political bias by Trump and his attorneys who argue she has held fundraisers for candidates of her party in the past.

Reuters reported that a document outlining charges against Trump appeared briefly on the Fulton County court’s website. A Fulton County courts spokesperson issued a statement Monday in response to a “fictitious document that has been circulated online and reported by various media outlets.”

Trump’s Georgia-based attorneys blasted the brief appearance of the document in a statement, calling it part of a pattern that has “plagued this case from its very inception.”

“This was not a simple administrative mistake,” Drew Findling and Jennifer Little said in a joint statement. “A proposed indictment should only be in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office, yet it somehow made its way to the clerk’s office and was assigned a case number and a judge before the grand jury even deliberated.”

The group of 16 fake electors who met at the Georgia Capitol in December 2020 includes current and former state and local GOP officials, ex-Coffee County GOP Chairwoman Cathy Lathum, Atlanta business attorney Brad Carver and newly elected state Sen. Shawn Still.

Giuliani pressed Georgia Republicans to set themselves up as alternate electors to counter state Democrat electors casting votes for Joe Biden after GOP election officials confirmed the current president as the winner of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. The plan at first was for the “fake electors” to serve as a placeholder should the former president prevail in court challenges to Georgia’s results. But when Trump’s court challenges were all either dismissed or withdrawn, the alternate electors still signed paperwork swearing they were legitimate delegates.

This story was originally published by the Georgia Recorder, a sister publication of the Arizona Mirror and a member of the States Newsroom network of local news organizations.

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