A Georgia Worry for Trump: Pardon-Proof Charges

Former president is expected to be indicted on state charges soon
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 10:25 AM CDT
For Trump, the Georgia Case Holds a Big Threat
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

It looks like the fourth indictment of Donald Trump could come as soon as Tuesday, this time out of Georgia. There, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating the former president's efforts to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss in the state. A grand jury is on the brink of deciding whether Trump and a team of lawyers and aides should be indicted, and coverage is extensive in advance. Some highlights:

  • Pardon: Unlike two of the previous three indictments, which were federal, this is a state case like New York's, and thus Trump wouldn't be able to attempt to pardon himself, or be pardoned by a sympathetic GOP president, if convicted, notes Axios.
  • RICO: Willis is expected to invoke the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, modeled after the federal RICO Act, notes the Wall Street Journal. It's a "powerful tool," the story explains, one originally conceived to go after mob bosses who generally kept their hands out of their underlings' crimes. Under RICO, "if prosecutors show that there is an organization of people who commit crimes together on a recurring basis, then members can be prosecuted for crimes the group committed." What's more, penalties are stiff, making witnesses more likely to cooperate.

  • The phone call: Much focus has been on a call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021: "So look," Trump said. "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." At the Messenger, Jonathan Turley writes that if the call is central to Willis' case, it doesn't bode well for the prosecution. Some see Trump's language as damning. Not Turley, who writes that "the call was similar to a settlement discussion, as state officials and the Trump team hashed out their differences and a Trump demand for a statewide recount."
  • Beyond the call: The allegations go beyond the call, however, and both the New York Times and the Washington Post are out with in-depth looks at the monthslong effort by team Trump in Georgia. "Trump and his allies harassed and defamed rank-and-file election workers with false accusations of ballot stuffing, leading to so many vicious threats against one of them that she was forced into hiding," per the Times. The stories also detail the pressure put on state and local officials, and the plan to supplant the state's official electors with a slate of pro-Trump electors. "All of their strategies came together in a complex and multilayered effort" in Georgia, per the Post.
  • Software breach: CNN reports that Willis has obtained emails and texts that link members of Trump's legal team to a breach of voting software in the state's Coffee County.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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