Aug 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Troubled Georgia jail set to make history as first to take Trump's mug shot

Donald Trump standing at a lectern wearing a blue suit and red tie. His arms are outstretched.

Former President Trump speaking at the Georgia GOP convention on June 10 in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Fulton County jail in Georgia could make history in the weeks ahead as the first institution to ever take a U.S. president's mug shot.

Driving the news: The local sheriff's office says it expects to book all 19 of those indicted this week on election-related charges — including former President Trump — at the notorious detention center, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The big picture: Trump has thus far avoided having his mug shot taken in his three other cases.

  • He now faces a historic four indictments and 91 criminal charges — while also running for the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential election.
  • The newest indictment, which relies on state-level racketeering charges, said Trump and 18 other defendants "knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump."

Why it matters: Trump and other powerful figures included in the indictment now face the prospect of being processed at a rough and overcrowded jail in Atlanta.

  • Those figures include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani — who as a federal prosecutor went after mobsters under the same type of racketeering law.

Context: The Fulton County jail, known among locals as "Rice Street," has been plagued with reports of dangerous conditions and detainee deaths.

  • In July, the U.S. Justice Department announced an investigation into conditions at the jail following the death of Lashawn Thompson, who was found covered in bugs and filth.
  • "It's miserable. It's cold. It smells. It's just generally unpleasant," longtime defense attorney Robert G. Rubin said of the jail, per the New York Times.
  • Officers are being prosecuted for using excessive force at the jail as well, the DOJ said.

Between the lines: Trump's Georgia trial is also the first one that could be televised, as Georgia law requires cameras be allowed during judicial proceedings with a judge's approval.

  • A judge would have to be presented with a compelling reason to bar cameras.

Reality check: An official mug shot could also be a boon to Trump's reelection campaign.

What's next: District Attorney Fani Willis proposed a Mar. 4 start date for the Georgia trial, meaning it would start one day before Super Tuesday, when many U.S. states hold primary elections.

  • The arraignment should take place the week of Sept. 5, Willis said in the court filing.
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