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- A Georgia grand jury indicted Donald Trump on charges related to his effort to overturn the 2020 election.
- The indictment also names Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, and other allies as defendants.
- Trump asked Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him votes even though he lost the state to Joe Biden.
A Georgia grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump and a group of top allies over their efforts to overturn the state’s results in the 2020 election.
The grand jury was convened by Fulton County’s district attorney, Fani Willis, in July to investigate whether Trump broke criminal laws, including solicitation to commit election fraud, making false statements, conspiracy, racketeering, and violations of his oath of office.
The sprawling 98-page indictment, unsealed Monday night, brings 13 criminal charges against the former president, as well as other charges against Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell, and others who plotted with Trump to overturn the election results. Willis brought a top charge of racketeering — or RICO — alleging the group formed an enterprise to illegally subvert the 2020 election. The indictment names 19 defendants overall and brings 41 different charges.
One of the events that sparked Willis’ investigation was a phone call Trump made on January 2 of 2021 with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top election official. At about the same time, Republican officials in the state plotted to act as fake electors to falsely tell Congress that Trump won Georgia’s electoral college votes. Those fake electors are among the defendants in the indictment.
Trump narrowly lost the 2020 presidential election in Georgia to now-President Joe Biden, a loss that was confirmed by a statewide risk-limiting audit that included a hand recount of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the presidential race and a subsequent machine recount requested by the Trump campaign. In a statement Monday night, Trump denied the allegations and baselessly claimed the indictment was a political hit job.
Even after Biden’s win in the state was certified and recertified, Trump and his allies continued to falsely insist the election was fundamentally fraudulent and Trump was the rightful winner.
After reportedly making 18 attempts to contact Raffensperger, Trump and his team finally got through to him. In an extraordinary hourlong call, Trump continued to push election conspiracy theories and asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to win him the election.
“So look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state, and flipping the state is a great testament to our country,” Trump said on the call, which was recorded by Raffensperger’s office.
A criminal enterprise
According to the indictment, Trump, lawyers he worked with in the White House, and fake electors in Georgia all composed “a criminal organization,” which allows Willis to bring criminal charges under Georgia’s RICO statute.
The organization’s members, according to prosecutors, worked in concert and “engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating public officer, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury.”
Members of the group broke the law by falsely telling legislators, courts, and other government officials that there was widespread election fraud in the 2020 election and stealing and disseminating voter data “to unlawfully change the outcome of the November 3, 2020, presidential election in favor of Donald Trump,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment. The group’s members also broke the law by lying to government officials and filing false documents to cover it up, prosecutors allege.
Willis sought high-profile subpoenas as part of her investigation
The criminal investigation into Trump’s call was launched in early February of 2021, when Willis sent letters to top Georgia officials, including Raffensperger, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and Attorney General Chris Carr, who weren’t targets of any investigation, alerting them of the inquiry and asking them to preserve all relevant official records.
In early March of that year, Willis’ office also brought on a top racketeering lawyer as an advisor on the case, indicating that she was pursuing more complex lines of investigation that could’ve involved multiple actors. Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and two lawyers, Cleta Mitchell and Kurt Hilbert, were also on the call with Raffensperger.
On a separate call with Frances Watson, the Georgia secretary of state’s chief investigator, Trump claimed he “won Georgia” and said he hoped she was reviewing signatures from elections from two years ago to uncover nonexistent fraud, telling her “she had the most important job in the country.”
Rudy Giuliani arriving at a courthouse in Atlanta to face questions from the special grand jury.
REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Over the course of the investigation, Willis has obtained testimony from Georgia officials, including Raffensperger and Kemp. She also waged court battles to force people close to Trump to testify, including Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and the lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and John Eastman.
Those witnesses testified earlier in front of a special grand jury, which had the power to issue subpoenas but not to bring criminal charges. That special grand jury completed a report earlier this year summarizing their findings and making charging recommendations to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
The entire report remains under seal, though court filings and media interviews with a grand juror indicated the special grand jury recommended multiple indictments, including for witnesses who may have lied under oath.
In addition to Trump’s personal conduct, Willis’s investigation spanned a plot among Georgia Republican party officials to send fake electors to Congress on January 6, 2021, and falsely declare Trump the winner of the presidential election. Some of those fake electors have reportedly accepted immunity deals with prosecutors in the months since the completion of the special grand jury report.
Trump’s docket is growing
The grand jury indictment is the fourth pending criminal case against Trump, who is the first former president in US history to be criminally charged.
Earlier this month, Trump pleaded not guilty to a set of federal charges in Washington, DC, brought by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, alleging he broke criminal laws while trying to overturn the election results. Part of that case involves Trump’s efforts to cancel votes in Georgia by pressuring Raffensperger and using fake electors, overlapping with Willis’s case.
In June, Smith brought a separate criminal case against Trump in Florida over his hoarding of classified documents following his presidency.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office was the first law enforcement agency to bring charges against Trump, in April, over allegations that he falsified business records with hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. That case is scheduled to go to trial in March.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis talking with a member of her staff during a court hearing.
AP Photo/Ben Gray
In addition to those criminal cases, Trump has numerous civil lawsuits moving ahead as he runs for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election. In October, he’s scheduled to face trial for a massive civil lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General’s office over his company’s accounting practices. In January, he has another trial scheduled for yet another defamation suit from E. Jean Carroll, as well as one for allegations that he pushed a scam multi-level marketing scheme while hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice.” There are also civil lawsuits trying to hold him responsible for the violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, among other cases.
Willis, who was elected as district attorney in 2020, is a seasoned prosecutor. She first joined the Fulton County district attorney’s office in 2001 and worked with the major crimes and cold case divisions for eight years before being promoted to deputy district attorney for the complex trial division. She worked on prominent cases there before leaving the office for private practice in 2018 and briefly serving as a judge.
This story is breaking and will be updated.