Aug 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

The indictment Trump feared most


Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney receives indictment paper from County Court Clerk Ché Alexander in Atlanta on Monday night. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

"Most indicted president." That was our Axios AM headline on Aug. 2 — 13 days ago.

Driving the news: After Monday night's indictment in Fulton County, Ga., it's even more true — now 91 felonies instead of 78.

  • Any one of them could send former President Trump to prison for years.

Details: In charges announced at 10:54pm ET, a grand jury in Atlanta indicted Trump and 18 allies after a two-year probe of efforts to flip Georgia's 2020 election results.

Why it matters: It's RICO. It's unpardonable by any president, since it's a state charge. The specifics are damning and hard to spin. The timing is tough to move.

  • Many close to Trump have long thought that if one case could bring him down, it's this.

The big picture: We're living history, as former President Trump becomes the only sitting or former president to face criminal charges ... to face criminal charges twice ... and three times ... and four.

"A criminal enterprise": The indictment says the defendants, including Donald John Trump, "conspired and endeavored to conduct and participate in a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere."

  • The next paragraph calls it a "criminal organization."
  • The allies include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows ... former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark ... and lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro.

Willis said at a late-night news conference that she plans to try Trump and the 18 other defendants together.

  • Those charged have until noon Friday, Aug. 25, to surrender.

Zoom in: The gist of the four criminal cases against Trump, via CNN:

  1. Manhattan prosecutors' hush-money case: 34 counts against Trump.
  2. DOJ special counsel's classified documents case: 40 counts against Trump.
  3. DOJ special counsel's election subversion case: 4 counts against Trump.
  4. Atlanta prosecutors' Georgia election meddling case: 13 counts against Trump.

Between the lines: Courts now will lead a fact-finding and reckoning for what's happened in the 2 years and 9 months — 1,015 days — since Election Day 2020.

  • We'll be living in complexity: All this legal action — and perhaps even trials (civil and criminal, state and federal) — will be the essential, deafening context to what's looking like a 2024 rematch of that election.

Trump has five trials scheduled between now and May.

  • As you can see in this clever Axios timeline, Trump's scheduled court dates (including civil fraud and defamation suits) are interspersed with the Iowa caucuses ... and Super Tuesday ... and, if Trump lasts as a candidate, the Republican National Convention.

What's next: Now "the country must brace itself for what will surely be described as the Trial of the Century," the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker writes.

  • "Which will be followed by the next Trial of the Century. And then the next. And then the next."
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