“Georgia unquestionably is at the heart of the alleged criminality,” said Atlanta attorney Buddy Parker, a former federal prosecutor. “Here’s yet another example of Georgia being a focus of criminality at the highest levels.”
Broadly speaking, the indictment, which accuses the former president of three federal crimes, says Trump and six unnamed co-conspirators sought to subvert Democrat Joe Biden’s legitimate victory. In Georgia and six other states, they used slates of phony presidential electors who falsely claimed to be legitimate and who would vote for Trump.
The indictment says the conspirators pursued unlawful means to subvert election results, sought to use the power of the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations” and tried to enlist Vice President Mike Pence to reject the legitimate electors.
Pence refused, and as the violence of Jan. 6 unfolded, the indictment says the conspirators redoubled their efforts to convince members of Congress to delay certification of Biden’s victory.
In a four-count indictment handed up on Tuesday, Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering and conspiracy against the rights of citizens and obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
In a statement, a Trump spokeswoman accused Democratic President Joe Biden of weaponizing the Justice Department.
“The good news is — President Trump is undeterred and his unprecedented America First movement will carry him back to the White House,” the statement said.
Among the Georgia events that are detailed in the indictment are phone calls Trump placed to several Georgia officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr; the visit former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made to a Cobb County absentee ballot audit; Rudy Giuliani’s falsehood-filled testimony regarding vote counting at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena before a pair of statehouse committees; and bogus claims of election fraud that Trump cited about Georgia’s vote.
The indictment alleges that Trump “lied” to Raffensperger “to induce him to alter Georgia’s popular vote count and call into question the validity of the Biden electors’ votes” during his infamous leaked phone conversation on Jan. 2, 2021. Prosecutors say Giuliani, who is not directly named but referred to as Co-Conspirator 1, had the “intention of misleading state senators into blocking the ascertainment of legitimate electors.”
Several of the named incidents overlap with areas that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating in her separate election interference probe. Willis is expected to pursue state charges of her own against Trump and many of the same alleged co-conspirators in the weeks ahead, likely using Georgia’s racketeering law.
At least three people have been subpoenaed in recent days who can speak to the fake electors meeting in Georgia and Giuliani’s testimony about State Farm in front of a Fulton grand jury. Other witnesses have also been told to keep their schedules open in August.
A spokesman for Willis declined to comment on the federal indictment. As recently as last weekend, Willis insisted that what Smith was doing in the federal case had no impact on her probe in Fulton.
”I don’t know what Jack Smith is doing and Jack Smith doesn’t know what I’m doing,” Willis told WABE. “In all honesty, if Jack Smith was standing next to me, I’m not sure I would know who he was. My guess is he probably can’t pronounce my name correctly.”
Even though there are significant areas of overlap between the federal and Fulton probes, there are some Georgia incidents in which Willis appears to be focused in greater detail. They include the harassment of Fulton County poll worker Ruby Freeman, which Smith mentions in passing, and the accessing of sensitive election information in Coffee County, Ga.
Former Gwinnett County DA Danny Porter said Smith’s indictment of Trump will not affect what Willis plans to do in Fulton County.
”It’s a fully independent sovereign, so the state can proceed and the feds can proceed, even though the charges are related,” he said. “I guess it certainly gives you some hint of what Fani may be looking at in terms of her charges.”
Porter said that, from the outset, he has believed Willis will pursue a racketeering indictment against Trump and his allies.
”That’s the one Trump should be most scared of,” Porter said of the upcoming Fulton indictment. “Because he can’t pardon his way out of it or get somebody to pardon his way out of it.”
Under Georgia law, someone convicted of a felony must wait five years after the completion of his or her sentence to apply for a pardon.
The four-count indictment handed up on Tuesday, charges Trump with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering and conspiracy against the rights of citizens and obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
It marks the third time Trump has been charged with a crime. He has also been indicted in Manhattan on charges he bought the silence of a porn star by paying her hush money and in Miami in another federal case, this one involving the mishandling of classified documents. He has pleaded not guilty int both those cases.