Trump indictment: Three things we learned about events in Georgia

This week’s federal indictment included a few new details of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

On Tuesday prosecutors filed a 45-page indictment accusing the former president of conspiring to defraud the United States and other charges as he sought to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. Here’s what we learned about events in Georgia.

Trump role in ‘kraken’ lawsuits

Attorney Sidney Powell made a splash in November 2020 when she filed a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election in Georgia and other states. The complaints included outlandish (and false) tales about manipulation of voting machines that had been designed to be manipulated.

Powell announced she was prepared to “release the kraken” – a mythological monster – on Trump’s vote-stealing opponents. But her lawsuits fizzled.

That much played out in public. But the federal indictment reveals Trump played a behind-the-scenes role in the “kraken” lawsuits.

The indictment says that, on Nov. 16, 2020, Trump’s executive assistant sent “Co-Conspirator 3 and others a document containing bullet points critical of a certain voting machine company. It urged Co-Conspirator 3 — widely identified as Powell — to include the claims in election fraud lawsuits.

According to the indictment, Powell responded: “IT MUST GO IN ALL SUITS IN GA AND PA IMMEDIATELY WITH A FRAUD CLAIM THAT REQUIRES THE ENTIRE ELECTION TO BE SET ASIDE in those states and machines impounded for non-partisan professional inspection.”

On Nov. 25, Powell Powell filed her Georgia lawsuit. Trump promoted it on Twitter before it was even filed, the indictment said.

Though he apparently played a role in shaping Powell’s lawsuit, Trump conceded to advisors the claims “were unsupported and that Co-Conspirator 3 sounded ‘crazy,’” according to the indictment.

Meadows’ report on Cobb signature audit

After two recounts confirmed Biden’s victory, Trump demanded an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Georgia, claiming it would expose massive voting fraud.

He didn’t get the statewide signature audit that some of his supporters wanted. But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordered an audit of signatures in Cobb County in response to a specific complaint there.

Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made a surprise visit to observe the audit. He was not permitted in the room where the audit was done, but he received a briefing.

Meadows must have been pleased with what he heard. According to the indictment, he notified Trump that election officials were “conducting themselves in an exemplary fashion” and would find fraud if it existed.

A day after hearing from Meadows, Trump “tweeted that Georgia officials administering the signature verification process were trying to hide evidence of election fraud and were ‘terrible people,’” according to the indictment.

The audit of more than 15,000 voter signatures in Cobb County found no fraudulent signatures.

Trump campaign skeptical of its own claims

One of the defining moments of Trump’s effort to overturn the election in Georgia was a Dec. 3, 2020, hearing at the Georgia Capitol. That’s where Trump’s attorneys unveiled a video of ballot counting at State Farm Arena that they argued was a “smoking gun” for ballot fraud. It’s also where they claimed tens of thousands of deceased, underage, out-of-state and otherwise ineligible people voted in Georgia.

Those claims quickly fell apart under scrutiny. But the federal indictment shows that even some of Trump’s own campaign officials didn’t believe them.

At the Dec. 3 hearing, one attorney claimed more than 10,000 dead people voted. According to the indictment, an unnamed senior Trump advisor texted Meadows: “Just an FYI. [A campaign lawyer] and his team verified that the 10k+ supposed dead people voting in GA is not accurate.” The advisor “clarified that he believed the actual number was 12,” the indictment said.

Investigators later determined that four dead people voted in Georgia in 2020. All the ballots were cast by relatives of the recently deceased people.

The indictment also says an unnamed senior advisor dismissed the allegations of fraud tied to the State Farm Arena video in an email less than a week after it was shown to Georgia lawmakers.

“When our research and campaign legal team can’t back up any of the claims made by our Elite Strike Force Legal Team, you can see why we’re 0-32 on our [court] cases,” the advisor wrote. “I’ll obviously hustle to help on all fronts, but it’s tough to own any of this when it’s all just conspiracy s--- beamed down from the mothership.”

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