Donald Trump continues to face legal hurdles with the Republican Party primaries looming. The former president and 18 others were indicted for allegedly "attempting to overturn" the 2020 election in Georgia, where then-candidate Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump to secure one of the most important swing states.
The indictment, handed down by a Fulton County grand jury charges 19 people, including Trump, with racketeering. It is the fourth criminal indictment the former president has faced so far this year. The Republican has denied all charges and accused the Justice Department of conducting a "witch hunt" against him.
"[The co-conspirators] knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump," the indictment reads.
Fani Willis, Fulton County district attorney, is the key woman in the case: in February 2021, she initiated an investigation into allegations of election meddling against Trump and his associates and is now leading the case in Georgia against the former president.
Prominent among the defendants are Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani; former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; former White House counsel John Eastman; and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.
Willis explained that the grand jury issued arrest warrants for the 19 defendants and, before the media, said that she was giving all of them the opportunity to voluntarily turn themselves in by noon on Friday, Aug. 25.
Willis: The grand jury issued arrest warrants for those who are charged. I am giving the defendants the opportunity to voluntarily surrender no later than noon on Friday the 25th day of August, 2023. pic.twitter.com/4F3JZMLs8y
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 15, 2023
Some of the alleged crimes facing Trump and the 18 others include: impersonation of a public official, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer violations, conspiracy to defraud the state, theft and perjury.
According to a BBC report, the most serious charge would be violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico) which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Trump responds to allegations: prosecutor is a "rabid partisan"
The Trump campaign, which currently has the lead in the polls for the upcoming Republican primaries, released a statement following the indictment questioning the integrity of prosecutor Willis, whom they discredited as politically motivated.
"The timing of this latest coordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes true motivation driving their fabricated accusations," said the Trump campaign statement, which further accused Willis of being a "rabid partisan" who brought "bogus indictments" to damage the former president's image heading into the upcoming election.
On Monday, prior to the indictment, the president's supporters charged that the indictment against Trump was politically motivated and rigged after a list of criminal charges against Trump appeared on a Fulton County website hours before the grand jury had voted to bring charges.
In her defense, a spokesman for Willis said the document was "fictitious." However, there was no explanation of how it ended up on the court's website.