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Donald Trump surrenders in Georgia on 2020 election probe charges

Trump's latest criminal booking is another milestone for the former president as he seeks to return to the White House in the 2024 elections

Donald Trump

Donald Trump (Photo: Bloomberg)

Bloomberg New Delhi
By Erik Larson

Donald Trump turned himself in at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta to be booked on state charges that he conspired to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, the fourth time he’s been processed as a criminal defendant this year.
His surrender Thursday became inevitable after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis ordered the former president and 18 alleged co-conspirators to turn themselves in by Friday or face arrest. Trump previously agreed to a $200,000 bond. His arraignment is expected early next month.

Trump was in the jail for roughly 20 minutes. Shortly after he entered the facility, his name appeared in the jail’s database, recording his height as 6’ 3”, his weight as 215 pounds and his hair color as blond or strawberry. He was assigned inmate number P01135809. CNN reported that Trump had his mug shot taken at the jail, a first for the former president. 

In his other criminal cases, authorities said that such a photograph — taken in case law enforcement agencies need to track down a fleeing defendant — wasn’t necessary since Trump is widely recognizable. Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat had said earlier that Trump wouldn’t get special treatment, particularly in regards to a mug shot. Trump’s co-defendants who have already surrendered also had mug shots taken.

After his booking, Trump’s motorcade returned him to the airport.

“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice,” Trump, 77, said after just before getting back on his private airplane. “We did noting wrong. I did nothing wrong. And everybody knows it.”

Earlier in the day, before Trump departed New Jersey, he took to social media to disparage Willis and the city of Atlanta. He also falsely claimed there is “IRREFUTABLE” evidence that the election was rigged. Neither Trump nor his allies have ever produced such evidence. Republican officials in Georgia and in Trump’s own administration all concluded the vote was fair.

Willis indicted the group on Aug. 14, alleging they violated Georgia’s racketeering law by participating in a “criminal enterprise” to keep Trump in office after he lost the election. The district attorney has said that all the defendants will be arraigned starting as soon as Sept. 5 in Atlanta, setting the stage for a series of remarkable court appearances.

Trump’s latest criminal booking is another milestone for the former president as he seeks to return to the White House in the 2024 election, and comes less than 24 hours after the first Republican primary debate, which he didn’t attend. He is already facing a similar election-fraud case in Washington federal court and unrelated criminal charges in New York and Florida. But he wasn’t required to report to a detention facility for booking until now.

Most other defendants in the case have already surrendered, including his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, longtime Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell, an architect of the conspiracy theory claiming the 2020 election was rigged.

Read More: Trump Georgia Trial Should Be Expedited to Oct. 23, DA Says (1)

Trump, who has been selling “not guilty” mugs with a fake mug shot on his campaign website, denies wrongdoing and claims all the criminal cases are part of a Democratic “witch hunt” to destroy his political future. 

The former president didn’t resist surrendering, unlike Meadows, who asked a judge for an emergency order blocking his arrest while he fights to move the case to federal court. A judge denied that request on Wednesday night, prompting Meadows to turn himself in.

As part of Trump’s bond agreement, he agreed not to make any “direct or indirect threat of any nature” against any co-defendants, witnesses or unindicted co-conspirators, including in social media posts or reposts. He also agreed not to communicate with any potential witnesses about the case except through a lawyer.

After the first three indictments, Trump’s legal team had arranged for the former president to be processed at a courthouse immediately before he was arraigned. 

Trump already has two trial dates in criminal cases early next year. In March, he faces New York state charges that he falsified business records in connection with hush money payments to an adult film star before the 2016 election. In May, he is set to face federal charges in Florida that he mishandled classified documents after he left the White House and tried to obstruct government efforts to retrieve the records.

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First Published: Aug 25 2023 | 6:39 AM IST

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