Updated Aug 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

The Georgia case against Trump is loaded with breathtaking ambition

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on August 14, 2023, in Atlanta, Ga. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has unveiled the most sprawling and complex criminal case against former President Trump, indicting him and 18 others on criminal racketeering charges.

The big picture: The scope of the case presents a sharp contrast with the indictments rolled out on Aug. 1 by special counsel Jack Smith.

  • Smith's case narrowly charged Trump as a sole defendant, with six unidentified co-conspirators.
  • Willis' case uses Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges that tie together 161 acts, with 19 defendants and 30 un-indicted co-conspirators, across 7 states and D.C.

Zoom in: RICO trials are legendarily long affairs, and in this case, it carries the potential for 19 defendants' lawyers clogging up the process.

  • Willis wants to try the defendants together and to start trial within the next six months, she told reporters late Monday night.
  • Willis' resume includes successfully prosecuting a RICO case in the Atlanta public schools system.

Trump's tweets were the play-by-play to the alleged conspiracy: 12 of the 161 acts were simply citing Trump statements made on Twitter.

  • Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani was charged and repeatedly cited in the indictment. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was also charged, as were members of Trump's legal team at the time.
  • 11 individuals with other ties to the effort were also named, including fake GOP electors.

Between the lines: The indictment alleges that members of the "criminal enterprise" unlawfully accessed voting equipment and voter data in Georgia  – and then distributed that stolen data to members in other states.

  • Act 19 from the indictment cites a meeting where Trump and Meadows requested a strategy for "delaying and disrupting" the Jan. 6 congressional certification of electoral ballots.

What they're saying: Due to the late hour of the indictment, many of the defendants had yet to put out statements.

  • "We look forward to a detailed review of this indictment, which is undoubtedly just as flawed and unconstitutional as this entire process has been," Trump's legal team said in a statement.
  • "It's 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," Giuliani said in a statement.

The bottom line: Trump now faces 91 charges across four criminal cases.

  • He's likely to spend a significant portion of 2024 sitting in courtrooms instead of hitting the campaign trail.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Smith's indictment of Trump on 2020 election charges was on Aug. 1, not in July.

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