One Big Wrinkle in Georgia Case: It Might Be Televised

This case against Trump is also far broader in scope than his previous indictments
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2023 8:20 AM CDT
4 Ways the Georgia Indictment Is Different
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks in the Fulton County Government Center during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Monday night's Georgia indictment may be the fourth of former President Trump, but it is different from the others in key ways. For starters, Trump would not be able to attempt to pardon himself should he be re-elected because it's a state case. Also:

  • Televised: Unlike a federal case, this trial might be televised, notes the Hill. "It would really afford the public to see and to evaluate evidence for themselves, and to also understand, or at least appreciate, the process involved," says Georgia State University prof Michael Kreis, who adds that Georgia has a reputation for court transparency. It could also have a pronounced effect on the 2024 election if prosecutors get their wish for a trial in six months. Given the complexity of the case, however, it's possible the trial could be delayed until after the election, notes Aaron Blake in the Washington Post.

  • Broader scope: Axios contrasts this one to the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. That one was narrow, with Trump as the only defendant and six unidentified co-conspirators. This one? Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis "ties together 161 acts, with 19 defendants and 30 unindicted co-conspirators, across 7 states + D.C."
  • RICO: As expected, Willis invoked the state's RICO Act, which covers racketeering charges. The 19 people indicted may be accused of different actions, but all are accused of participating in what Willis labeled a criminal "enterprise" that operated in Georgia and elsewhere. Willis' "challenge will be to convince jurors that the disparate group of 19 conspirators charged in the indictment ... were all working together in a sprawling but organized criminal effort to keep Mr. Trump in power," per the New York Times.
  • False statements: Blake of the Post also notes that Georgia has a specific law against making "a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation … in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of state government," which could complicate a Trump "free speech" defense. The phrase "false statement" appears more than 100 times in the indictment, he points out. Axios notes that Trump's tweets come into play here: "12 of the 161 acts were simply citing Trump statements made on Twitter."
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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