Aug 25, 2023 - News

Fulton County Jail takes Trump's mug shot

Photo: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

The most famous photograph in the world is a mug shot from Atlanta.

  • The image of Donald Trump snapped in the Fulton County Jail after his historic surrender Thursday night on RICO charges is the leading image of arguably the toughest legal battle facing the 45th president yet.

Why it matters: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling case against Trump and 18 co-defendants promises months of political intrigue, headline-making court appearances and the occasional traffic headache in Atlanta.

Catch up quick: TV trucks, Trump die-hards and a small army of sheriff's deputies converged on Rice Street outside the controversial lock-up and braved Georgia heat and humidity from the morning hours to await the former president's arrival.

  • His plane landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport shortly after 7pm. He gave a thumbs up as he walked down the stairs, then joined an expansive motorcade that sped north to the notorious jail.
  • He went in through the Jefferson Street entrance just after 7:30pm, and was back on the road by 8, winding through neighborhoods where residents took cell phone videos from their front yards.
  • He gave a few brief remarks to reporters at the airport, saying, "This is a very sad day for America," before he was back in the air at 8:40pm, according to the AJC.

Flashback: The scenes were a twist of irony in the tangled story of Trump and Georgia, a state that has consumed him.

  • In 2017, he said Georgia's fifth congressional district was "falling apart" and that the district's congressman, the late civil rights legend John Lewis, was "All talk, talk, talk – no action or results."
  • Then came the 2020 election, the 11,780 votes and the phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" them.
  • Then the 2022 gubernatorial primary, when he hand-picked David Perdue to run against Gov. Brian Kemp because of Kemp's refusal to falsely claim that the election was stolen.

But the more Trump obsessed over Georgia, the more it rejected him.

Flash forward: Now at 7:30pm Thursday, here Trump was, three years after he declined to pay respects to Lewis upon his death, riding in a caravan to get booked on charges in a jail situated in that so-called "crime infested" district.

State of play: Except for a few local races, it's an election off-year in Georgia. Trump's indictments make the state — particularly Atlanta — a hotbed of media, activist and legal activity.

The big picture: The largest news media hubs are in New York and D.C. (CNN has largely scaled back its Atlanta presence), but the stories are here.

  • Georgia's diversity, politics, and economic strength have firmly established the state as one of the country's busiest flashpoints.

What's next: Willis has scheduled arraignment proceedings for Trump and other defendants on Sept. 5. After initially proposing a trial start date of March 4 — the day before Super Tuesday — she's requesting an October trial.

Intrigue: It's unclear whether Willis will try the defendants concurrently or break up the cases. At the same time, Willis' office is prosecuting a racketeering case against rapper Young Thug and other members of the Young Slime Life crew.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Atlanta.

More Atlanta stories