Former President Trump was charged alongside 18 co-defendants in a sweeping indictment touching on nearly every aspect of his effort to reverse his 2020 election loss in Georgia.
The 98-page indictment outlines Trump’s pressure campaign against numerous Georgia officials, a plot to submit false slates of electors and a lawsuit with faulty claims affirmed by Trump that sought to overturn the results in the state.
And it devotes substantial time to lies about the election from Trump and his allies, whether about voter fraud in the state or those that unleashed a wave of threats against a Georgia election worker they accused of mishandling ballots.
The indictment caps a more than two-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) who gave the defendants until noon on Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender in Georgia.
“I make decisions in this office based on the facts in the law,” Willis said after the late Monday charges were filed. “The law is completely nonpartisan.”
Willis pulls no punches on co-defendants
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks in the Fulton County Government Center during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. Donald Trump and several allies have been indicted in Georgia over efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The substantial charges for Trump are matched by a lengthy list of those indicted alongside him.
Nearly every member of Trump’s legal team is listed in the indictment, with Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell all facing charges as a result of the probe. Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ lawyer Trump mulled installing as attorney general, is also listed in the indictment.
Chesebro, who drafted the memo hatching the fake elector plot, was charged alongside just three of those who served as “alternate” electors: Shawn Still, David Shafer, and Cathy Latham. While 16 Georgians participated in the scheme, many have since received immunity deals in the investigation.
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And in a departure from the federal election interference case, Willis also brings charges against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who, alongside Trump, is charged with soliciting Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reverse the election results by suggesting he “find” enough votes for Trump to carry a state Joe Biden won.
Charges were also filed against Trump campaign staffers and those who sought to pressure election worker Ruby Freeman after Giuliani claimed she had improperly handled ballots.
The indictment also targets those involved in the breach of an elections office in Coffee County, including Misty Hampton, Coffee County’s election supervisor who sent a written invitation to Trump’s legal team after posting a viral video claiming Dominion Voting System machines could be manipulated.
Georgia case is more sweeping than the federal one
Former President Donald Trump speaks during the 56th annual Silver Elephant Gala in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)
The heart of the indictment is labeling Trump’s efforts in the state as a criminal enterprise — a designation that allows for the use of the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.
The indictment lists 161 acts that form the basis for the RICO charges, a point-by-point recounting of nearly every act and lie Trump or his associates made in the course of trying to overturn the election.
Use of the law also allows Willis to sweep in crimes that occurred outside her jurisdiction, like the effort to breach Coffee County elections systems and the charges for Clark, who advocated for the Justice Department to send a letter to the state asking that it hold off on certifying President Biden’s victory in Georgia while DOJ investigated Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Like the federal indictment brought earlier this month, Willis focuses on the fraudulent claims made by Trump and his team. But where special counsel Jack Smith condenses the behavior into one fraud charge, Willis’s indictment brings charges under crimes that bar forgery, making false statements, and filing false documents.
The Fulton County indictment also alleges specific violations of Georgia election law.
An emphasis on a single poll worker
Rudy Giuliani departs the federal courthouse, Friday, May 19, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The indictment spends considerable energy on lies spread by Guiliani that turned the life of Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman upside down.
Guiliani shared a video of Freeman working alongside her daughter, Shaye Moss, during ballot counting at the State Farm Arena, later saying the two were “passing around USB ports as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.”
Freeman was actually handing her daughter a mint.
Trump would go on to call Freeman a “professional vote scammer.”
Those lies fueled the total disruption of the lives of both women and are also the basis of a civil defamation suit brought by the women.
Moss would go on to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, tearfully recounting how she feared for her life and she and her mother were advised by law enforcement not to return to their homes out of fear for their safety.
The two Black women also faced a series of racist threats after being thrown into the spotlight.
“A lot of threats wishing death upon me, telling me I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920,’” Moss said during the hearing.
Other Trump campaign allies like Harrison Floyd and Trevian Kutti were charged, accused of pressuring others to make false statements about election operations on Election Day 2020.
Trump’s efforts to overturn the election continued for months
Former President Donald Trump and President Biden
It was clear Trump had lost the 2020 election by mid-November, and by January 2021, Biden had assumed office.
But Willis’s indictment alleges a conspiracy spanning from Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after Election Day — to September 2022, nearly two years down the line.
The last charges against Trump point to a Sept. 17, 2021, letter to Raffensperger asking that he begin “decertifying” the state’s election results well after the inauguration. The move nods to the length of Trump’s effort in the state and an argument he has made in other cases — that he should be immune for actions taken during his presidency.
Lawyer Robert Cheeley and Cathy Latham, a retired teacher who served as the chairwoman of the Coffee County Republican Party, were each charged with perjury for “knowingly, willfully and unlawfully” making at least one false statement about their involvement in the alleged plot.
Prosecutors say Latham lied under oath during a deposition for a different legal matter involving Raffensperger about her role in a breach of election equipment at the Coffee County Board of Elections & Registration Office. Cheeley allegedly perjured himself before the Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury.
Includes conduct that features little in the federal indictment
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the Des Moines International Airport after a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
It’s long been suspected that details like Trump’s call to Raffensperger and his lawyers’ fake electors scheme would play a central role in a Georgia indictment — details that have played a key role in Smith’s federal investigation of the 2020 election aftermath, as well.
However, Willis’s indictment ultimately weaved in lesser-known local efforts that allegedly advanced the broader conspiracy.
The indictment details Trump lawyers’ efforts to persuade state lawmakers of the former president’s false election fraud claims, plus his allies’ alleged efforts to pressure Freeman, the election worker. Prosecutors also tie an election equipment breach in Coffee County to Powell, one of the former president’s most front-facing surrogates for his election fraud claims.
The result of Willis’s wide-reaching narrative is the most comprehensive indictment to date, detailing Trump and his allies’ efforts to stop the 2020 election results from going into effect.