Former US President Donald Trump has been accused of trying to rig the Georgia election in order to reverse his loss there in 2020.
This is his fourth criminal prosecution in as many months.
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 emphasised unsubstantiated claims of widespread 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 favour 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 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 organisation,” and they are charged with witness tampering, computer trespass, theft, and perjury, among other offences.
Violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO Act), the most serious charge, carries a possible 20-year jail sentence.
The statute, which was created to aid in the dismantling of organised criminal syndicates like the mafia, aids prosecutors in establishing a causal link between subordinates who breached the law and those who gave them commands.
The Trump campaign said in a statement that the district attorney was a “rabid partisan” who had brought “these bogus indictments” in an effort to sway the 2024 presidential election and “damage the dominant Trump campaign”.
The statement read, “This latest coordinated attack by a biassed prosecutor in a predominately Democratic jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes the true motivation driving their manufactured accusations.”
He is the only former US president ever to be charged with a crime.
In February 2021, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began an inquiry.
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 biassed.
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.
The operations of the Trump campaign in Georgia received a good deal of attention in that charge sheet. In that instance, Mr. Trump entered a not guilty plea.
Georgia is the centre of Ms. Willis’ inquiry, a crucial state in the race for the US presidency that Mr. Trump just missed winning.
On a discussion with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021, Mr. Trump was overheard pleading with him to “find” the 11,780 votes he would have needed to defeat Mr. Biden in that state.
An alleged plan to tamper with voting equipment in one Georgia county and steal data is described in the indictment.
It also refers to an alleged plan to submit erroneous lists of electors, the people who decide who becomes president and vice president through the Electoral College.
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.