The latest news in the Fulton County probe of the 2020 election:
- A Georgia grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump late Monday, charging him with felony racketeering and numerous conspiracy counts as part of a sweeping investigation into the effort by him and his allies to overturn the 2020 election.
- The 41-count indictment also names lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith and several other people.
- Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis enlisted a special grand jury last year that heard testimony from 75 witnesses.
- Among the best-known moments in the pressure campaign against Georgia officials was a call in which Trump asked Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" the votes he needed to beat Joe Biden.
Meadows seeks to move Fulton County case to federal court
Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows filed court documents today seeking to move the Fulton County case to federal court.
Meadows filed a notice of removal in U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia, arguing for immunity under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which Meadows and lawyers said should prohibit “state interference in a federal official’s duties.”
"Here, it is unmistakably clear that the indictment charges Mr. Meadows with alleged state crimes based on acts he took as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States and in the course of his duties in the position," the 14-page filing said.
ABC News first reported the court filing.
DeSantis calls Fulton County charges an example of 'criminalization of politics'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's running for the GOP presidential nomination, said today that the latest charges against Trump are an example of the "criminalization of politics."
In a virtual news conference with New England media outlets, DeSantis said the RICO statute used in the new indictment “was really designed to be able to go after organized crime, not necessarily to go after political activity. And so I think it’s an example of this criminalization of politics.”
DeSantis, who said he hadn't had a chance to read the entire 98-page filing, added that if he is elected president he would “lean in against some of these local prosecutors if they are not following the law or if they are abandoning their duty to enforce the law evenly.”
Last week, DeSantis suspended Orlando-area State Attorney Monique Worrell, a Democrat and the only Black woman serving as a local prosecutor in Florida. Last August, he suspended Tampa-area prosecutor Andrew Warren.
Trump co-defendant Mike Roman involved in 2008 New Black Panther polling place video
Trump co-defendant Mike Roman, a former White House official who worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020, played a major role in propagating a video that became a cause célèbre after the 2008 election of Barack Obama.
Two members of the extremist New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling place in north Philadelphia in 2008, one of them holding a baton. They were responding to the presence of white Republican poll watchers, and there were no voters in the majority Black neighborhood who claimed they were intimidated. The incident was over within a few minutes.
Roman, a native of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, played a key role in promoting the video on his website.
The minuteslong incident nevertheless became a yearslong controversy for the Justice Department after its Civil Rights Division pushed forward a case under a rarely used federal statute. The conservative-controlled U.S. Commission on Civil Rights even launched an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of the case. After Obama, the country’s first Black president, took office, far-right lawmakers repeatedly argued he and the first Black attorney general were covering up for the extremist organization.
Trump property manager pleads not guilty in separate case involving classified documents
Carlos De Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago property manager charged in another case against Trump, involving the alleged mishandling of classified documents, pleaded not guilty today in federal court in Florida.
De Oliveira and his attorney, Donnie Murrell, entered the plea around 10 a.m. in the Fort Pierce courthouse. Murrell waived a formal reading of the federal indictment, which charged his client along with Trump and Trump aide Walt Nauta.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Shaniek Maynard wished De Oliveira “good luck.”
Eastman's lawyer calls indictment 'a legal cluster-bomb'
Harvey Silverglate, the lawyer for Fulton County defendant John Eastman, called yesterday's indictment "political" and said his client would challenge the charges "in any and all forums."
"Lawyers everywhere should be sleepless over this latest stunt to criminalize their advocacy," Silverglate said in a statement. "This is a legal cluster-bomb that leaves unexploded ordinances for lawyers to navigate in perpetuity."
Trump says Fulton County trial should be delayed until after the 2024 election
In a Truth Social post today, Trump said none of the four indictments against him should go to trial until after the next presidential election, arguing that anything short of that would amount to election interference.
"All of these Biden Administration bogus trials and cases, including the locals, should be brought after the 2024 Presidential Election," Trump, the GOP front-runner, said on his social media platform.
The timing proposed by Trump would clash with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' desire to go to trial within the next six months.
Two of Trump's three other cases are already scheduled to start before the election. State Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the New York case involving hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, has set a trial date for March 25. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the classified documents case, set a trial start date of May 20. She rejected Trump's request to delay the trial until after the election.
The judge presiding over Trump's 2020 election case in Washington, D.C., is expected to set a trial date on Aug. 28. Special counsel Jack Smith is pushing for a Jan. 2, start date.
The presidential election is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2024.
Fulton County clerk offers new explanation for Trump doc posted before indictment
The clerk's office at the Fulton County Courthouse today provided new details about a document posted to the court's website yesterday that indicated Trump had been indicted before the grand jury voted on the charges.
In a statement, the Office of the Fulton County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Courts said a media outlet obtained a docket sheet through the "Fulton County Press" queue and then shared the "sample working document" with other news organizations.
"Upon learning of the mishap, Fulton County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Courts, Che Alexander, immediately removed the document and issued correspondence notifying the media that a fictitious document was in circulation and that no indictment had been returned by the Grand Jury," the clerk's office said in today's statement.
Reuters reported yesterday that a docket indicating Trump had been charged appeared on the court website shortly after noon. The document was quickly removed, Reuters reported, and the news agency changed its reporting to say Georgia was “set to charge” Trump. The county clerk’s office said in a statement yesterday that a “fictitious document that has been circulated online.”
The charges in the "fictitious document" were the same as the ones listed in official indictment later in the day.
When he was working as a federal prosecutor in New York in the 1980s, Rudy Giuliani was hailed for his innovative use of racketeering laws against the mob.
Now he faces a similar charge — a violation of Georgia’s RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act — for allegedly taking part in a conspiracy with Trump and others in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
The law is a favorite tool of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the case against Trump and Giuliani.
Asa Hutchinson says Trump is 'morally responsible' for what took place in 2020 and should be disqualified from being president
GOP presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that Trump faces serious charges and that his actions in the 2020 election should disqualify him from being president again.
"Those charges are serious," Hutchinson, Arkansas’ former governor, told reporters after his “Fair-Side Chat” with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. "As a former federal prosecutor, it looks like they could have deferred that to the federal prosecution because it overlaps, and so I’m not sure that it’s needed, but it’s serious."
Asked whether the indictment is disqualifying for Trump, Hutchinson said: "All of these, I said a year ago that Donald Trump is disqualified from being president of the United States as a result of his actions. He’s morally responsible. Now we’ll see if he’s criminally responsible. That’s a question for the law and for the jury."
Three fake electors charged with multiple counts including forgery, impersonation
The indictment charges three participants in the so-called fake electors scheme in Georgia with impersonating a public officer, first-degree forgery, false statements and writings, criminal attempt to commit filing false documents and other offenses.
David Shafer, Shawn Micah Tresher Still and Cathleen Alston Latham, along with multiple unnamed unindicted co-conspirators, "unlawfully falsely held themselves out as the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from the State of Georgia," according to the indictment. The three named defendants are among the 16 Georgians who were false electors for Trump in Georgia in 2020.
At least eight of Georgia's fake electors were granted immunity earlier in the probe and agreed to interviews with prosecutors, according to a May court filing.
Trump, Giuliani, Eastman and others were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy in relation to the Georgia scheme, as well. Those counts include first-degree conspiracy to commit forgery, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer and conspiracy to commit false statements and writings.
Trump lawyer hints at 'inside information' to help his defense
In an interview this morning on Fox News, Trump lawyer Alina Habba was asked whether she agreed with a New York Post op-ed that called the Georgia indictment a "perilous threat to former President Trump." She replied that the team's members disagreed with the assessment because they "have inside information."
Pressed by the Fox News interviewer, Steve Doocy, about what that information was, Habba refused to provide specifics, saying, "This is something I'm not going to breach."
Lawyer for accused fake elector David Shafer says client is 'totally innocent'
The lawyer for David Shafer, one of the so-called fake electors and a former Georgia GOP chair, said Shafer is “totally innocent of the charges filed against him” yesterday in Fulton County Superior Court.
“His conduct regarding the 2020 Presidential election was lawful, appropriate and specifically authorized by the U.S. Constitution, federal and state law and long standing legal precedent,” Craig A. Gillan, Shafer’s lawyer, said in a statement.
“The law firms of Gillen & Lake LLC and Pierson Law LLC will vigorously defend Mr. Shafer against these unfounded allegations,” he added.
A focus of Trump’s fourth indictment includes the so-called fake electors — people who signed a certificate falsely declaring that Trump won Georgia in the 2020 election and that they were the state’s official electors. Some of them struck immunity deals with Willis’ office in recent months, court filings show.
GOP Rep. Ken Buck says 'this charge is a nuclear bomb where a bullet would have been appropriate'
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., suggested todaythat the charges in Fulton County are more consequential than they needed to be for the alleged crimes committed in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
In an interview on MSNBC, Buck said the federal indictments against Trump from the special counsel's office could have been a RICO indictment, but, he said, "they didn’t choose to go the RICO route. And I think properly so."
"RICO was meant to cover Mafia cases. It was meant to cover international drug organizations," Buck continued. "This charge is really a nuclear bomb where a bullet would have been appropriate, and I think the scope of this charge is really something that should have been done at the federal level if it was going to be done at all."
Gov. Brian Kemp holds the line: 'The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen'
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is standing by his refusal to go along with Trump’s false claims of election fraud in the battleground state.
In a tweet including a screenshot of Trump’s announcement of a coming report that he said will prove election fraud in the state, Kemp wrote: “The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”
Kemp, a Republican, testified last year before the special grand jury in Willis’ investigation into whether Trump and his allies engaged in election interference in Georgia.
Kemp’s office also confirmed last month that special counsel Jack Smith’s office contacted him as it investigates efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results.
Kenneth Chesebro's attorney says the charges against him are 'unfounded'
The attorney for Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney indicted in Fulton County who was accused of pushing the "fake electors" scheme, said the charges against Chesebro are "unfounded."
"Mr. Chesebro, an appellate and constitutional lawyer with experience in election law disputes, was asked by the Trump Campaign to provide advice on issues related to constitutional and election law," said Scott Grubman, Chesebro's lawyer.
"Each of the alleged 'overt acts' that are attributed to Mr. Chesebro relate to his work as an attorney," Grubman said. "Mr. Chesebro did not once step foot in the State of Georgia on behalf of the campaign, and was not privy to the private communications of other individuals that are cited in the indictment. Mr. Chesebro stands ready to defend himself against these unfounded charges."
GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie says he was 'uncomfortable' upon reading Trump's fourth indictment
Asked in in a Fox News appearance this morning about Trump’s fourth indictment, Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said, “I'm uncomfortable with what I read last night.”
“I think that this conflict is essentially covered by the federal indictment, not with the level of detail that they covered in this, but that’s just a stylistic thing,” said Christie, a former prosecutor and governor of New Jersey.
“Election interference is election interference. It’s been charged by Jack Smith, and most of the time what you’d see here would be a state court deferring to a federal prosecution, especially if that federal indictment had already been issued,” he said. “So I think this was unnecessary.”
Christie, a former Trump ally, has emerged as a vocal critic after he broke with Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud and refusal to concede the 2020 election.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: 'Don't go to the Fulton county courthouse'
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., one of Trump’s top defenders on Capitol Hill, urged the public to not show up to the Fulton County Courthouse in a tweet.
Greene, a far-right lawmaker, has boosted Trump's baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election. She became the first lawmaker to be ousted from the House Freedom Caucus last month over a dust-up with a GOP colleague and her alignment with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on his leadership bid and his debt ceiling deal with President Joe Biden.
Previous RICO cases in Georgia's Fulton County have taken a while to go to trial
Fani Willis said she wants to take the Trump case to trial within the next six months, but other cases in the same jurisdiction that involved violations of the state's racketeering law have taken much longer to go to trial.
A test cheating scandal prosecuted under the law resulted in an indictment charging 35 educators in March 2013. Most took plea deals, but a dozen of them didn't go to trial until more than a year later, in September 2014. The trial lasted seven months, until April 2015, and 11 of the educators were convicted.
In May of last year, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office brought an indictment against two rappers — Young Thug and Gunna — and 26 other people and charged them with racketeering in connection with alleged gang activity. While Gunna negotiated a deal, called an "Alford plea," which allowed him to assert his innocence while pleading guilty because it was in his best interests because of the evidence against him, Young Thug pleaded not guilty. Jury selection began months ago — and it's still going. A jury hasn't been seated, and opening statements haven't been delivered.
Georgia secretary of state touts 'respect for the Constitution' but doesn't name Trump
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is out with a brief statement this morning, presumably in reaction to last night’s indictment.
“The most basic principles of a strong democracy are accountability and respect for the Constitution and rule of law,” he said. “You either have it, or you don’t.”
Trump’s phone call to Raffensperger, a Republican, on Jan. 2, 2021, to “find” the votes needed to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state is among the incidents cited in the new indictment.
Trump has said the phone call was “perfect.”
Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis swipes at Democrats and Willis
Jenna Ellis, who is among a group of Trump lawyers charged with violating Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act, accused Democrats and Willis of “criminalizing the practice of law” this morning after Trump’s fourth indictment.
“The Democrats and the Fulton County DA are criminalizing the practice of law,” she tweeted. “I am resolved to trust the Lord and I will simply continue to honor, praise, and serve Him. I deeply appreciate all of my friends who have reached out offering encouragement and support.”
Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson: 'Turn the page and move on'
Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson said in a statement that the fourth indictment against Trump “gives us ten new reasons to turn the page and move on.”
“The former President will have to deal with his troubles, but the country should not be further weighed down by them,” Williamson said. “He may or may not be found guilty of his crimes but his damage to our body politic is indisputable. It is time to disconnect from events of the past and create a future untainted by his political scandals.”
Trump says he's releasing a 'report' on election fraud next week
In a post to his Truth Social platform this morning, Trump said he will present a “report” on Georgia election fraud at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, next week.
“A Large, Complex, Detailed but Irrefutable REPORT on the Presidential Election Fraud which took place in Georgia is almost complete & will be presented by me at a major News Conference at 11:00 A.M. on Monday of next week in Bedminster, New Jersey,” he wrote.
He then insisted, without citing evidence, that all charges will be dropped against him and his allies.
“Based on the results of this CONCLUSIVE Report, all charges should be dropped against me & others — There will be a complete EXONERATION! They never went after those that Rigged the Election. They only went after those that fought to find the RIGGERS!” he added.
GOP lawmaker pushes back against White House press secretary's saying DOJ is 'independent'
In an appearance on Fox Business this morning, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., was asked to respond to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre's response yesterday when she was asked about the probe into Biden’s son Hunter and the independence of the Justice Department — a main focus of the GOP as Trump faces mounting legal woes.
At a news briefing, Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich asked Jean-Pierre: “How can the White House assure people that the case involving the president’s son is being handled fairly?”
Jean-Pierre replied: “The Department of Justice is independent. That is what the President believes. He believes that this White House will not politicize the Department of Justice. This was done under the leadership of a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, as you all know. And so I’m just I’m not going to add anything else to that."
Asked to respond to Jean-Pierre’s remarks, Van Drew, a member of the Judiciary Committee who was a Democrat until 2020, said Jean-Pierre’s comments are “absurd” and claimed that the Justice Department has “protected” Biden’s family.
“I mean, the Department of Justice has been showing and protecting the Biden family on the Bidens for years. ... I mean, literally every level of government, whether it’s the leadership in the IRS, whether it’s the Department of Justice, the FBI, all of them have been working in tandem to protect this president and to hide the truth,” he said.
2024 GOP candidate Will Hurd says Trump’s 'baggage will hand Biden reelection'
GOP presidential candidate Will Hurd took aim at Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 election in response to Trump’s fourth indictment.
“Another day, another indictment, and another example of how the former president’s baggage will hand Joe Biden reelection if Trump is the nominee,” he said in a statement. "This is further evidence that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election and was ready to do anything it took to cling to power. He will use the latest indictment as another opportunity to manipulate Americans into paying his legal bills.”
Hurd, a former representative from Texas, then called on the Republican Party to “move beyond dealing with the former president’s baggage.”
“The Republican Party needs a leader who isn’t afraid of bullies like Trump and who understands the complex issues facing our country — from complicated technologies that will affect our economy and global power structures that will determine our position in the world.”
Trump and 18 co-defendants charged with racketeering in Georgia 2020 election probe
Trump and top allies, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and a top former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, were indicted yesterday on felony charges in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
The sweeping 41-count indictment also names lawyers John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith and several others. All were charged with violating Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) law.
In an indictment handed up to the judge around 9 p.m. ET and made public just before 11 p.m., Trump was charged with felony racketeering and numerous conspiracy charges, court filings show.
The racketeering charge carries a sentence of five to 20 years, while a conspiracy conviction can result in a minimum sentence of one year in prison with a variable maximum sentence.
Can tweeting be a crime? Willis explains what an 'overt act' means
Charging someone under a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization or RICO law, requires a prosecutor to show a group, or enterprise, committed a pattern of crimes.
Georgia's RICO law, like the federal law, lists specific crimes that can qualify under the law, known as "predicate" acts.
In the indictment, prosecutors listed 161 acts that they argue prove that a violation of the RICO Act occurred. Among the acts include things like allegedly accessing Dominion Voting machines and influencing witnesses.
But some of the acts listed are simply posts Trump made on Twitter, like a Jan. 6, 2021, tweet pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to not certify the electoral count in Congress.
Can a tweet be a crime?
Willis answered the question during her remarks — talking about how the indictment included "overt acts," or actions that wouldn't be a crime on their own but might prove a larger pattern.
"Many occurred in Georgia and some occurred in other jurisdictions and are included because the grand jury believes they were part of the illegal effort to overturn the result of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election," Willis said.
Trump fundraises off fourth indictment
In an email to supporters late Monday night, Trump encouraged his supporters to donate and show that they will "NEVER SURRENDER."
Trump's fundraising appeal claimed that "Deep State thugs" were attempting to "JAIL me for life."
Previous Trump indictments have led to similar fundraising emails for the Trump campaign. In the first week after Trump's initial indictment, in Manhattan, his campaign brought in $13.5 million in donations. The first seven days after the second indictment, in Florida, brought in $5.8 million.
However, the donations have been somewhat offset by the Trump's increasing legal bills.
'The Witch Hunt continues,' Trump says
Former President Donald Trump expressed outrage early Tuesday morning following his indictment in Georgia.
“So, the Witch Hunt continues!" Trump posted on his Truth Social account just before 1:30 a.m. ET.
"19 people Indicated tonight, including the former President of the United States, me, by an out of control and very corrupt District Attorney who campaigned and raised money on, 'I will get Trump'," Trump said, misspelling the word "indicted."
"Why didn’t they Indict 2.5 years ago? Because they wanted to do it right in the middle of my political campaign. Witch Hunt!" he said in the post.
Trump's Georgia attorneys call indictment 'shocking' and 'absurd'
Trump's attorneys in Georgia blasted the indictment and the witnesses who testified before the Fulton County grand jury.
"The events that have unfolded today have been shocking and absurd," attorneys Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg said in a statement where they also argued that the witnesses who testified before the grand jury were biased.
"This one-sided grand jury presentation relied on witnesses who harbor their own personal and political interests — some of whom ran campaigns touting their efforts against the accused and/or profited from book deals and employment opportunities as a result," the attorneys said.
"We look forward to a detailed review of this indictment which is undoubtedly just as flawed and unconstitutional as this entire process has been.”
Hutchinson and Ramaswamy respond to new Trump indictment
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy were the only GOP presidential candidates besides Trump to weigh in on the former president's latest indictment.
"Regardless of the specifics of the Georgia indictment, I expect voters will make the ultimate decision on the future of our democracy," Hutchinson said in a statement, adding that Trump’s actions had “disqualified him from ever serving as President again.”
Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor, said he would make additional remarks once he has reviewed the indictment in full.
Meanwhile, Ramaswamy reacted to the indictment on News Nation just moments after the news broke.
"The reality is these are politicized persecutions through prosecution," he said.
Ramaswamy noted he had not yet read the document, but added that people should consider this indictment in the context of the preceding three and see that America is becoming a "banana republic."
Giuliani: 'Real criminals' are people who brought this indictment
Giuliani responded to his indictment in a statement shared by an adviser, calling it "an affront to American Democracy" that "does permanent, irrevocable harm to our justice system."
The former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer called it "just the next chapter in a book of lies with the purpose of framing President Donald Trump and anyone willing to take on the ruling regime."
"The real criminals here are the people who have brought this case forward both directly and indirectly," he said.
Trump and Meadows charged in relation to 'find 11,780 votes' phone call
Count 28 of the 41-count indictment charges Trump and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows in relation to the former president's infamous phone call imploring GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have" in Georgia.
The indictment charges both Trump and Meadows with solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer for the Jan. 2, 2021, call. The indictment alleges both men "unlawfully solicited, requested, and importuned" Raffensperger "to engage in conduct constituting the felony offense of Violation of Oath by Public Officer ... by unlawfully altering, unlawfully adjusting, and otherwise unlawfully influencing the certified returns for presidential electors for the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia."
In addition, Trump is charged with Count 29, "false statements and writings for several falsehoods about voter fraud in Georgia in his communications with Raffensperger, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs and Georgia Secretary of State General Counsel Ryan Germany on Jan. 2, 2021."
Kenneth Chesebro's lawyer says he has not been contacted by Willis
Scott Grubman, an attorney for defendant Kenneth Chesebro, told NBC News tonight that he had not been contacted by Willis' office.
Grubman said his team was reviewing the indictment and was likely to issue a statement tomorrow morning.
Chesebro, who was named in today's indictment, is believed to be one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the case against Trump in Washington, D.C., brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
Dems see an even justice system; McCarthy calls it 'weaponized'
Shortly after Trump was indicted for a fourth time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., wrote in a joint statement that the latest indictment "portrays a repeated pattern of criminal activity" for Trump.
"The actions taken by the Fulton County District Attorney, along with other state and federal prosecutors, reaffirms the shared belief that in America no one, not even the president, is above the law," they wrote.
They urged Trump's supporters and critics not to interfere in the legal process set to unfold in the coming months.
That was in stark contrast to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who posted a statement on Elon Musk's X, formerly known as Twitter.
"Justice should be blind, but Biden has weaponized government against his leading political opponent to interfere in the 2024 election," McCarthy wrote.
He also criticized Willis for merely "following Biden's lead" in attacking Trump, which is consistent with his statements in response to the previous indictments.
Willis says defendants 'engaged in criminal racketeering enterprise' to overturn state's election results
Willis read the names of each of the 19 defendants in the sprawling 98-page filing in remarks less than an hour after the indictment became public tonight.
During a news conference, Willis noted that each of the defendants was charged under the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act through participation in a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere "to accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office" that began in January 2021.
"The indictment alleges that rather than by abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results," she said.
Willis plans to try all 19 defendants together
Willis said at tonight's news conference that she plans to try all 19 defendants together — a process that could present logistical challenges to juggle that many defendants and lawyers.
Defendants will have a chance to petition the court, if they choose, to ask that their cases be separated from some or all of those of the other defendants. Courts tend to frown on that, because it requires more resources to hold separate trials. But defendants could make the case that they would not get fair trials facing a jury at the same time as the others accused.
Defendants have until noon Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender
Willis announced at a news conference tonight that defendants named in the indictment have until noon Aug. 25 to turn themselves in.
The trial date will be within the next six months, she said.
30 other unnamed co-conspirators are mentioned
The indictment refers to more than two dozen unindicted, unnamed co-conspirators, referring to the group as "Individual l through Individual 30."
Special counsel Jack Smith's indictment against Trump this month in the 2020 election case mentioned six unindicted, unnamed co-conspirators, including enough breadcrumbs to identify most of them. At an initial glance, there appear to be fewer clues in this indictment to who the alleged co-conspirators are.
What is the 'enterprise' referred to in the RICO charge?
The indictment lists people who the prosecutor alleges "constituted a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities."
Here's the list: "Donald John Trump, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, John Charles Eastman, Mark Randall Meadows, Kenneth John Chesebro, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Jenna Lynn Ellis, Ray Stallings Smith III, Robert David Cheeley, Michael A. Roman, David James Shafer, Shawn Micah Tresher Still, Stephen Cliffgard Lee, Harrison William Prescott Floyd, Trevian C. Kutti, Sidney Katherine Powell, Cathleen Alston Latham, Scott Graham Hall, Misty Hampton, unindicted co-conspirators Individual 1 through Individual 30, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury."
The indictment alleges that the enterprise operated in Fulton County, Georgia, as well as other parts of the country.
RICO — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act — was passed in 1970 to fight organized crime.
One defendant charged with perjury
Robert Cheeley is the only defendant in the indictment charged with perjury.
The final count in the indictment stems from Cheeley's grand jury testimony on Sept. 15 about the so-called fake electors.
Some charges center on alleged harassment of election worker Ruby Freeman
Several of the charges in the indictment relate to Ruby Freeman, the Fulton County elections worker who became the subject of pro-Trump conspiracy theories after the 2020 election.
Freeman testified before the House Jan. 6 committee last year along with her daughter Shaye Moss that they lost all sense of safety after Trump, Giuliani and others publicly accused them of messing with votes in Georgia. In fact, they said, they were passing a ginger mint in video. Both women were officially cleared of wrongdoing this summer.
Tonight's indictment accuses some in Trump's orbit of criminal attempts to influence a witness and conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements and writings in repeatedly calling and texting and visiting her home after the election.
"In furtherance of this scheme" — that is, trying to overturn the election in Georgia — "members of the enterprise traveled from out of state to harass Freeman, intimidate her, and solicit her to falsely confess to election crimes that she did not commit," the indictment says.
Here are the new charges facing Trump
Trump was charged with 13 counts in the 41-count indictment leveled against 19 defendants.
Here's a list of the charges against Trump:
Count 1: Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act
Count 5: Solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer
Count 9: Conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer
Count 11: Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
Count 13: Conspiracy to commit false statements and writings
Count 15: Conspiracy to commit filing false documents
Count 17: Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
Count 19: Conspiracy to commit false statements and writings
Count 27: Filing false documents
Count 28: Solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer
Count 29: False statements and writings
Count 38: Solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer
Count 39: False statements and writings
Trump-aligned super PAC slams latest indictment
Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for the Trump-aligned super PAC MAGA Inc., called the Georgia indictment "election interference" and an "unprecedented abuse of power" in a statement.
“Today, Fani Willis joins Merrick Garland, Jack Smith, and Alvin Bragg in the Deranged Democrat Prosecutor Club — their only goal being to arrest Donald Trump and prevent him from being on the ballot against Joe Biden," Leavitt said, adding that "the American public continues to rally around" Trump "harder, stronger, and more enthusiastically than ever before."
Here are the 19 people charged in the indictment
Former President Donald Trump
Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani
Lawyer John Eastman
Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows
Former Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro
Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark
Former member of Trump legal team Jenna Ellis
Ray Smith III, the lawyer who represented Trump in 2020 election challenges in Georgia
Atlanta lawyer Robert Cheeley
Former Trump staffer Michael Roman
David Shafer, a fraudulent 2020 Republican elector and former chairman of the Georgia GOP
Shawn Still, one of the fraudulent 2020 electors and a current member of the Georgia Senate
Stephen Lee, an Illinois police chaplain
Harrison Floyd, executive director of Black Voices for Trump
Trevian Kutti, a Chicago-based publicist who represented Kanye West
Former Trump legal team member Sidney Powell
Cathy Latham, one of the fraudulent 2020 electors and former chairwoman of the Coffee County Republican Party in Georgia
Scott Hall, a 2020 Fulton County Republican poll watcher
Former Coffee County Elections Director Misty Hampton
Read the indictment
There are 19 defendants, including Trump
The document charges 19 defendants — including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.
Georgia grand jury indicts Trump in connection with efforts to overturn 2020 election
The grand jury indicted Trump this evening, charging him as part of a sweeping investigation into the effort by him and his allies to overturn the 2020 election.
Newt Gingrich: House Republicans should 'cut off' funding to special counsel Jack Smith
In an appearance on Fox News tonight, Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called on GOP lawmakers to "cut off" funding for special counsel Jack Smith's office.
“I think Republicans are going to have to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘No, this is over.’ And the first place to do that is the budget ... just cut off the money on Sept. 30,” he said, referring to the last day of the fiscal year, when government funding is set to run out unless new funding legislation is signed into law.
“They should do whatever it takes to close down this entire anti-constitutional, ruthless breaking of the law,” Gingrich said.
He went further to decry the grand juries involved in each of the indictments, calling them unfair and not accurate juries of Trump’s peers. The solution, he said, was to go after Smith’s funding.
With Trump already facing three indictments, Gingrich also argued that notching a fourth in Georgia would only embolden voters to be Trump campaign surrogates.
John Eastman lawyer sent a memo to Willis today arguing against charges
A lawyer for John Eastman, an attorney at the center of the "fake electors" strategy to overturn the 2020 election for Trump, said he and his client have received no information today about the grand jury action in Georgia.
Eastman attorney Harvey Silverglate said they sent a legal memo to the district attorney this morning explaining why, in their view, no charges should be filed against Eastman — and they asked for a meeting to further try to make that case.
Silverglate said they sent a similar memo and request to the special counsel Friday.
Silverglate previously confirmed that Eastman appears to be "Co-Conspirator 2," an unindicted and unnamed operative mentioned in special counsel Jack Smith's indictment against Trump in Washington, D.C., this month.
Eastman faces disbarment proceedings in California, which he has asked to be put on hold because of the potential for criminal charges in Smith's probe.
Trump campaign slams indictment ahead of its release
The Trump campaign argued that the yet-to-be released indictment amounted to "election interference or election manipulation."
In a statement, the campaign reiterated Trump's personal attacks on the prosecutors involved in his indictments. It also argued that the indictment in Georgia was an attempt to suppress the former president's First Amendment rights, the same argument Trump has used in other his other indictments.
Hillary Clinton expresses 'profound sadness' over indictments
In an interview on MSNBC, Hillary Clinton said she feels "profound sadness" that the U.S. has a former president who has faced indictments "that went right to the heart of whether or not our democracy would survive."
In response to Rachel Maddow's question about whether she feels any satisfaction, she said the only satisfaction could be that "the system is working" and "justice is being pursued." Clinton referred to Trump's actions on Jan. 6, 2021, as having the hallmarks of "authoritarian dictatorial kinds of leaders."
Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee, also took aim at the GOP.
"I hope that we won't have accountability just for Donald Trump and if there are others named in these indictments along with him for their behavior, but we'll also have accountability for a political party that has just thrown in with all of the lies and the divisiveness and the lack of any conscience about what was being done to the country," she said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham criticizes role of county prosecutors like Willis
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared to cast doubt over Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' investigation of Trump in a Fox News interview tonight.
"Are we going to let county prosecutors start prosecuting the president of the United States -- the former president of the United States?" Graham asked in an interview with host Pete Hegseth.
Graham also took aim at Democratic prosecutors more broadly.
"The American people can decide whether they want him to be president or not. This should be decided at the ballot box, not a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail," Graham said. "They’re weaponizing the law in this country. They’re trying to take Donald Trump down, and this is setting a bad precedent."
Rudy Giuliani is live right now as indictment is unsealed
Giuliani, who helped lead the former president's legal campaign to overturn the 2020 election, is live on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Giuliani is arguing that Trump's legal team could contest the indictment, which he called "unjust," even though it has not yet been made public, because it is "a political indictment.”
If others are implicated as well as Trump, Giuliani said, the indictment "ain't going to leave me out."
Giuliani lamented the potential prosecution “of lawyers for attempting to do their job aggressively as we’re supposed to,” adding that he’s nonetheless “proud.”
What unfolded in Judge McBurney's courtroom
Representatives from the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk's office, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office entered Judge Robert McBurney's courtroom at 8:58 p.m.
The representative of the district attorney's office held a stack of papers.
McBurney went through the indictment, making sure the papers were signed and the forms were properly filled out. He asked the district attorney's representative whether “everything went as it should have in front of the grand jury." The representative confirmed it had.
The judge did not read anything from the indictment out loud.
McBurney then handed the indictments to the clerk’s office representative and instructed her to maintain custody of the indictments.
She left the courtroom en route to the clerk’s office to file the indictment.
Judge: 'That's it'
Judge Robert McBurney joked with the media after having signed off on indictments from the jury — without reading names of defendants.
Unclear at the moment who was charged
A grand jury investigating whether Trump and his allies tried to interfere with Georgia’s 2020 presidential election has delivered 10 indictments, but it is not yet clear who was charged.
Grand jury delivers 10 indictments
The court clerk wrote on a certificate that the grand jury has returned 10 indictments.
Indictment unsealing process begins; judge returns to bench
The indictment unsealing process is underway.
The judge is back on the bench in his courtroom after the grand jury began voting more than 45 minutes ago.
Listen to the full 2021 call between Trump and Raffensperger
Grand jury is voting now
A source familiar with the proceedings said the Fulton County grand jury is voting now.
Duncan calls out 'misinformation' surrounding 2020 election: It was 'fair and legal'
Geoff Duncan, who was Georgia's lieutenant governor during the 2020 election, called out “misinformation” and “lies” surrounding the previous presidential election in brief comments with reporters today after his appearance before the grand jury.
Duncan declined to provide details about his testimony and didn’t name Trump directly, but he condemned falsehoods about the election.
"As a Republican, this is a pivot point for us. This is a pivot point that we're either going to wake up to or we're not," Duncan said outside the Fulton County Courthouse.
"There's been a lot of misinformation for a number of years, and this is our opportunity to get the real story out. But my hope is that Americans believe us. My hope is that Republicans believe us: that this election was fair and legal."
Duncan said Republicans have the opportunity to "hit the reset button, to launch into a GOP 2.0 that focuses on policies that matter — not lies, not tweets — but policies that matter."
Grand jury takes break after hearing from seventh witness
The grand jury finished hearing from the seventh witness shortly before 7:30 p.m. ET, a source with direct knowledge of the proceedings told NBC News.
Members of the grand jury are taking a brief break, the source said.
Judge: 'Another hour'
Judge Robert McBurney, the Fulton County Superior Court judge who has presided over parts of the election probe, continues to offer tidbits of information to the press camped out in his courtroom.
“I’ve been told I need to be here for another hour," McBurney said.
He brought a box of potato chips in for the media — Lay's.
Grand jury hears from seventh witness out of 10
Shortly after 6:30 p.m., the grand jury began hearing from witness No. 7, out of 10, a source familiar with the proceedings said.
The source cautioned that the district attorney might not hear from all 10 witnesses before the grand jury votes on potential indictments.
The DA’s office is trying to wrap up everything tonight, but the process remains fluid, the source added.
Judge to reporters waiting in courthouse: 'Hang in there'
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who has presided over parts of the election probe, has a crowd of journalists waiting in his courtroom and hasn't shied from coming out to chat.
“Y’all doing alright?" McBurney said to the assembled media shortly before 7 p.m. "Well, hang in there. I’m doing the same."
In Georgia, cameras could sharpen the focus on Trump in the courtroom
If Trump is indicted in Fulton County, it will not be the first time the former president will answer to criminal charges in a courtroom. But this time, the entire process is likely to play out on live television.
Unlike in federal or Manhattan courts, where Trump appeared for his three previous arraignments, Georgia law requires that cameras be allowed into judicial proceedings with a judge’s approval.
In 2018, the Georgia Supreme Court, in an order amending the law to include smartphones, underscored the importance of transparency: “Open courtrooms are an indispensable element of an effective and respected judicial system.
“It is the policy of Georgia’s courts to promote access to and understanding of court proceedings not only by the participants in them but also by the general public and by news media who will report on the proceedings to the public.”
Giuliani on possible Fulton County indictment: 'I didn’t do anything wrong'
Former Trump attorney Giuliani was approached outside his Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan today about a potential indictment stemming from the Fulton County district attorney's probe.
When asked whether he’s worried about a possible indictment, Giuliani told NBC News: “I shouldn’t be. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
"But I mean that doesn’t stop some of these people from — I mean it’s ridiculous, this’ll be the fourth indictment of Donald Trump in an election year," he continued. "I guess we can figure out that these really aren’t indictments. These are attempts to prevent him from running for president of the United States. They stopped being indictments probably two indictments ago."
He added that he believed the legal challenges would "result in a massive victory for Donald Trump."