Previously: Donald Trump has been indicted three times since March of this year. Who's up for a fourth?
, Monday, August 28, 2023
On August 14, late into the evening, former president Donald Trump was indicted for the fourth time this year. While we've already seen charges in New York state and two Federal cases, this time it was Georgia's turn, charging Trump, along with 18 other defendants, with "knowingly and willfully" joining a "conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome" of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The 98-page indictment listed 41 counts in all. Trump and his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani caught the most charges with 13 apiece, but there were plenty to go around. Every one of the 19 defendants were charged with violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO, a law that targets "criminal enterprises" and is most well known for being used at both state and federal levels for prosecuting organized crime. Because history has a funny way of doing business, prosecuting mobsters in RICO cases is how Rudy Giuliani made his name before becoming mayor of New York. Whoops. (Source: Reuters)
After the indictment was handed down, the Fulton County Jail saw a steady stream of defendants arriving to be processed and booked before the deadline of August 25th. You know full well by now that there were mugshots. Everyone has seen the mugshots, they do not need to be shared here. Joining Trump and Rudy in getting booked were attorneys John Eastman, Sydney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro (more on him in a second), and Jenna Ellis, as well as former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (more on him in a sec too), former acting assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, some lesser-known campaign folk like Ray Smith and Michael Roman, some good ol' Georgia folk like Misty Hampton, Robert Cheeley, and Scott Hall (not the dead wrestler), some bona-fide weirdos like traveling pastor Stephen Lee, former Kanye West publicist Trevian Kutti, the former leader of Black Voters for Trump Harrison Floyd (who's still in jail because he was denied bond), and finally folks who signed up to be false electors like David Shafer, Shawn Still, and Cathy Latham. Good lord that's a lot of people. Vox offers a good who's who. (Source: Vox)
This enormous cast of characters will all be arraigned next week, on September 6th, kicking off with Donald Trump's arraignment at 9:30 and Rudy's at 9:45. Then everyone else in 15-minute intervals until 3pm. At an arraignment the defendant hears the charges against them and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty (stares). This will be Trump's fourth arraignment since April, however it will be his first with TV cameras in the courtroom. Cue the Law and Order dun dun. (Source: NBC News)
With so many defendants—many of whom fall into the broad category of "sketchy lawyers"—you'd expect there to be a lot of sketchy legal maneuvering already underway and you would be right. Last week, Kenneth Chesebro (I will not accept that his name is not pronounced "Cheese Bro") requested his trial be held under Georgia's "speedy trial" law and that request was granted. Chesebro's trial has already been scheduled for October 23rd. While many defendants' attorneys pretty much immediately signaled that they would asked to be separated from a court date in checks notes less than two months, sketchy lawyer Sidney Powell thought, for some reason, "hey now" and also requested a speedy trial. She is now awaiting word on her date. (Source: HuffPost)
Getting it over with via a speedy trial isn't the only questionable legal maneuvering underway. Today former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified for over three hours in a bid to have his case moved from state to federal court. Why? Well, according to Meadows attorneys, Meadows was acting as a federal official in the actions he took to overturn the Georgia election results and, as a result, should be tried in federal court (or have the case thrown out in a federal court, which is what Meadows would really like to do but needs to move the case first). Prosecutors argued that clearly Meadows actions weren't part of the job of a presidential chief of staff and were "explicitly political" in nature. US District Judge Steve Jones (not the Sex Pistols guitarist) did not immediately rule on the case, but promised a decision "as soon as possible." At least four other defendants have filed to get their cases moved to federal court as well, and Trump and Rudy have both said they want to as well, so a decision here will have big consequences. (Source: Washington Post)
Speaking of trials, let's not forget that there are three other indictments already moving their way around courthouses and today marked a big moment in the Federal election interference case that Trump was indicted on earlier this month when Judge Tanya Chutkan announced that the trial would begin on March 4th. Yes, March 4th, one day before the Super Tuesday primary election in 15 states and just three weeks before Trump is scheduled to stand trial in New York's case against him on March 25th. Federal prosecutors had originally wanted a date in January, while Trump's lawyers were hoping to push all the way to checks notes 2026. Trump also stands trial for the Mar-a-Lago documents case in late May, so things are getting very crowded and now there's a sprawling case in Georgia with 19 defendants to schedule. What could go wrong? (Source: New York Times)
What's coming next: Trump and his 18 co-defendants get arraigned in Georgia next week, and one would expect that a trial date announcement will follow shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, every single one of these cases will hit the "legal maneuvering" high gear soon. And, you know, it's Donald Trump, so he'll probably fire some lawyers shortly too. Anyway, it's going to be a busy fall. Cries.