Former US President Donald Trump has been accused of trying to rig the Georgia election in order to reverse his loss there in 2020.
In the last five months, he has been the target of four criminal prosecutions.
Along with 18 other allies, Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, was charged.
All 13 of the allegations against him, which include interfering in elections and racketeering, are denied. They are politically motivated, according to him.
In February 2021, Georgia’s Fani Willis initially opened an inquiry into claims that Mr. Trump and his allies had interfered with elections.
Prosecutors filed a 98-page indictment against the 19 defendants, which was made public late on Monday.
Defendants had until Friday, August 25, noon to voluntarily surrender, according to Ms. Willis’ announcement. She stated that all 19 defendants would be tried concurrently.
Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, former White House top of staff Mark Meadows, and former White House attorney John Eastman are on the list of alleged co-conspirators.
Others include Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, two Trump attorneys who emphasized unsubstantiated accusations of massive election fraud, as well as Jeffrey Clark, a former justice department employee.
The defendants “knowingly and willfully participated in a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” according to the indictment.
The former president is charged with several felonies, including:
- Violating Georgia’s racketeering act
- Solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer
- Conspiracy to impersonate a public officer
- Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
- False statements and writings and filing false documents
The defendants are referred to in the indictment as a “criminal organization,” and they are charged with witness tampering, computer trespass, theft, and lying, among other offenses.
Violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act), the most serious accusation, carries a potential 20-year jail sentence.
The statute, which was created to aid in the dismantling of organized criminal syndicates like the mafia, aids prosecutors in establishing a causal link between subordinates who broke the law and those who gave them commands.
The district attorney was labeled by the Trump campaign as a “rabid partisan” who filed “these bogus indictments” in an effort to influence the 2024 presidential election and “damage the dominant Trump campaign.”
“This latest co-ordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes the true motivation driving their fabricated accusations,” said the statement.
He is the only former US president ever to be charged with a crime.
Before the grand jury voted to return an indictment, a list of criminal charges against Mr. Trump posted on a Fulton County website earlier on Monday, causing uncertainty.
According to the document, Donald Trump was accused of racketeering, conspiring to commit fraud, and making false statements.
The document was described as “fictitious” by a Ms. Willis representative, who did not, however, explain how it wound up on the court’s website.
The apparent clerical error was used by Mr. Trump and his friends as evidence that the system was biased.
Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, charged Mr. Trump earlier this month with plotting to rig the 2020 election, which he lost to Democrat President Joe Biden.
That charge sheet devoted significant time to the Trump team’s activities in Georgia. Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty in that case.
Ms Willis’ investigation focuses specifically on Georgia, a key battleground state for the US presidency that Mr Trump narrowly lost.
In January 2021, Mr Trump was recorded on a phone call asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes – the number he would have required to beat Mr Biden in that state.
The indictment outlines an alleged scheme to tamper with voting machines in one Georgia county and steal data.
It also mentions an alleged scheme to submit false lists of electors, officials who make up the Electoral College that elects the president and vice-president.
Following the indictment, Mr. Raffensperger issued a statement in which he stated: “The most fundamental values of a strong democracy are accountability and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. It is something you either have or don’t.
State charges, like those in Georgia, have important distinctions from federal ones. Notably, Mr. Trump would not be able to exonerate himself of state accusations if he were to win the presidency again in 2024.
On March 25 of the next year, Trump will also go on trial in New York State for paying a porn star hush money. Additionally, he is scheduled to stand trial in Florida on May 20 for alleged crimes involving the handling of secret documents discovered at his Mar-a-Lago home following his election.
Mr. Trump again pleaded not guilty in both cases.