Trump live updates: Former president indicted on RICO charges in Georgia election probe

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis presented a Georgia grand jury Monday with the election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala.
Butch Dill | AP

Former President Donald Trump was indicted Monday night by a grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia, on charges he and his supporters attempted to interfere with the state’s 2020 presidential election.

Trump allies charged in the Georgia indictment include:

  • Rudy Giuliani
  • John Eastman
  • Mark Meadows
  • Jeffrey Clark
  • Sidney Powell
  • Jenna Ellis

The charges stem from a long-running criminal investigation into the efforts made by Trump and his allies to overturn President Joe Biden‘s victory in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the probe in February 2021, just weeks after it was revealed that Trump had urged Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss in the Peach State.

Willis noted from the outset that she was investigating potential violations of state laws barring election fraud and lying to government entities, as well as conspiracy, racketeering and “any involvement in violence or threats” related to the administration of the 2020 election.

Key posts:

McCarthy slams Biden and ‘radical’ DA Willis following indictment

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, speaks to the press, as he meets with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2023. listens to
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote in a social media post that the Biden administration “has weaponized government” against Trump ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

“Justice should be blind, but Biden has weaponized government against his leading political opponent to interfere in the 2024 election,” McCarthy wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Now a radical DA in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham,” he said, referencing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

— Amanda Macias

Top Democrats in Congress: Trump pushed ‘Big Lie to steal an election’

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference after the senate luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The two top Democrats in Congress blasted Trump after the new indictment, which they said underscores the fact that no American, not even a president, “is above the law.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in a statement, said, The fourth indictment of Donald Trump, just like the three which came before it, portrays a repeated pattern of criminal activity by the former president.”

“This latest indictment details how Mr. Trump led a months-long plot pushing the Big Lie to steal an election, undermine our democracy, and overturn the will of the people of Georgia,” the statement said.

 “The actions taken by the Fulton County District Attorney, along with other state and federal prosecutors, reaffirms the shared belief that in America no one, not even the president, is above the law,” the Democrats said.

 “As a nation built on the rule of law, we urge Mr. Trump, his supporters, and his critics to allow the legal process to proceed without outside interference.” 

Dan Mangan 

Warrants issued for Trump and his co-conspirators, who have until Friday to surrender

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis gave former President Donald Trump and his co-conspirators until noon Friday to surrender to Georgia authorities.

Warrants have been issued for their arrest, Willis added.

“I want to try him and be respectful for our sovereign states,” Willis continued, “with a trial date within six months.”

Rohan Goswami

Conspirators ‘refused to accept that Trump lost’

US President Donald Trump looks on after speaking during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The indictment against Trump and his co-defendants opens by noting that the conspiracy outlined in the document was set in motion after the alleged conspirators “refused to accept that Trump lost” to President Joe Biden in Georgia in 2020.

“Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia,” the indictment says.

“Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” the indictment said.

“That conspiracy contained common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states.”

Dan Mangan

Who is Mark Meadows?

Former Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., speaks during a forum on House and GOP Conference rules for the 118th Congress, at the FreedomWorks office in Washington, D.C., on Monday, November 14, 2022. 
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Meadows is a former U.S. congressman from North Carolina who stepped down from that role to become Trump’s White House chief of staff for his final year in office.

Meadows participated in the now-infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the state.

He was also involved in other efforts to try to keep Trump in office after his defeat. His actions on the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — as Trump’s allies flooded him with frantic texts — played a large role in a House select committee’s investigation about the disruption of the transfer of presidential power.

Kevin Breuninger

30 unindicted co-conspirators in the Georgia case, including 13 apparent false electors

The 90-page indictment details over 160 acts in aid of the alleged conspiracy, and identifies 30 unindicted co-conspirators who worked with the defendants to perpetrate the alleged crimes.

Among the unindicted co-conspirators are 13 apparent false electors, who allegedly conspired on Dec. 14, 2020, to submit a false and fraudulent voter certification to a federal judge, the indictment said.

“On or about the 14th day of December 2020, DAVID JAMES SHAFER, SHAWN MICAH TRESHER STILL, CATHLEEN ALSTON LATHAM, and unindicted coconspirators Individual 2, Individual 8, Individual 9, Individual 10, Individual 11, Individual 12, Individual 13, Individual 14, Individual 15, Individual 16, Individual 17, Individual 18, and Individual 19, whose identities are known to the Grand Jury, attempted to commit the felony offense of FILING FALSE DOCUMENTS, in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20.1(b)(1), in Fulton County, Georgia, by placing in the United States mail a document titled ‘CERTIFICATE OF THE VOTES OF THE 2020 ELECTORS FROM GEORGIA,'” the indictment said.

Rohan Goswami

Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump is spending a ton of campaign cash on legal fees

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gestures, while standing next to former U.S. President Donald Trump, during Donald Trump’s campaign stop to unveil his leadership team, at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., January 28, 2023.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C., said in an interview on Fox News on Monday that former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign for the White House is spending more money on legal fees than actual campaign-related items.

Graham’s comments came ahead of the indictment of Trump in Georgia.

“He’s spending more money on lawyer fees than he is running for office. January the sixth, I was there, I saw it, he was impeached over it,” Graham said. “The American people can decide whether they want him to be president or not. This should be decided at the ballot box, not a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail.”

Trump’s political action committee, Save America, has spent over $20 million on legal fees since the start of the year. That committee has over $3 million on hand going into the second half of the year.

Brian Schwartz

Journalist George Chidi, who walked in on secret Trump operatives meeting, did not testify before grand jury

Independent journalist George Chidi arrives at the Lewis R. Slaton Courthouse after being subpoenaed ahead of an expected indictment of former US President Donald Trump on August 14, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Christian Monterrosa | AFP | Getty Images

Independent journalist George Chidi said on social media that his testimony was not needed ahead of a grand jury vote empaneled in Fulton County in Georgia.

Chidi said last month that he met with a representative from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office and was handed two subpoenas to testify before a grand jury considering charges in the 2020 election interference case.

His testimony was slated to detail how he accidentally stumbled into a secret meeting of Republican “alternate” electors inside the Georgia Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020. At the time he was told that it was an education meeting and was asked to leave.

Chidi wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, around 2 p.m. ET that he was notified that the grand jury may hear his testimony a day early.

He arrived at the courthouse at 4 p.m. ET and gave sporadic updates of who he saw and what he ate while he waited.

— Amanda Macias

18 co-defendants indicted with Trump

The indictment names 18 other people besides Trump as co-defendants.

They are Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, Jenna Ellis, Ray Smith III, Robert Cheeley, Michael Roman, David Shafer, Shawn Still, Stephen Lee, Harrison Floyd, Trevian Kutti, Sidney Powell, Cathleen Latham, Scott Hall, and Misty Hampton, who also is known as Emily Misty Hayes.

Dan Mangan

Rudy Giuliani says he ‘didn’t do anything wrong’ ahead of indictment

Former New York City Mayor and former personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump Rudy Giuliani talks to members of the press before he leaves the U.S. District Court on May 19, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

“I assure you if it covers more defendants… ain’t gonna leave me out,” Rudy Giuliani, the former Trump lawyer and mayor of New York, said ahead of the unsealing of the indictment.

Earlier, he insisted in an NBC News interview that he “didn’t do anything wrong.”

“It’s really a desecration of calling it a racketeering case,” Giuliani added.

NBC News asked him earlier if he was concerned about a possible indictment. “I shouldn’t be. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Giuliani said.

— Rohan Goswami

Read the Trump indictment from Georgia grand jury

Read the entire 92-page indictment against Trump and his co-defendants here.

Dan Mangan

Trump could not pardon himself if he wins presidency and is convicted in Georgia

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on as he attends the ALGOP Summer Meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. August 4, 2023.
Cheney Orr | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump would have to wait at least five years after being released from court-ordered supervision before applying for a pardon, according to state law.

Following a possible conviction in Georgia, Trump could be issued a pardon from the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles but only after fulfilling the sentence, any probation or parole time and five years have elapsed.

The Constitution does not grant the president the ability to exonerate themselves from offenses against individual states.

— Amanda Macias

Clinton says judicial system is working as grand jury returns indictments in election probe

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against former President Donald Trump in 2016, said she felt “profound sadness” as the grand jury in Georgia returned 10 indictments related to the 2020 election interference.

“This is a terrible moment for our country,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview.

Clinton, who at the time did not know Trump was named in the latest round of indictments, said that what is known is that the former president “set out to defraud the United States of America.”

“I feel great profound sadness that we have a former president who has been indicted for so many charges that went right to the heart of whether or not our democracy would survive,” Clinton said, referencing Trump’s three previous indictments.

Clinton said that her only satisfaction in the wake of Trump’s indictments is that the judicial system is working.

— Amanda Macias

Trump hit with 13 criminal counts in indictment

Trump was hit with 13 separate criminal counts in the new indictment.

The top count was a violation of Georgia’s RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, Act.

Trump also was charged with solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

Other charges he faces are conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, filing false documents, and false statements and writings.

Dan Mangan

Trump campaign rails against DA Willis before indictments made public

Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump leaves after speaking at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 12, 2023.
Stefani Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Ahead of the public disclosure of the Georgia indictments, the Trump campaign released a statement assailing Fani Willis, the Atlanta prosecutor who brought the case, as a “rabid partisan.”

The statement, which also attacked the other prosecutors who have filed cases against Trump, accused Willis of “campaigning and fundraising on a platform of prosecuting President Trump through these bogus indictments.”

The campaign also added Willis to Trump’s frequent claim that the criminal charges against him are part of a conspiracy to derail his 2024 presidential campaign. “Call it election interference or election manipulation — it is a dangerous effort by the ruling class to suppress the choice of the people,” the statement read.

Trump himself has already been accused in a separate federal criminal case of attempting to interfere in the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.

Willis has been tight-lipped about her probe of Trump, but in recent interviews she has defended the work of her office.

“I refuse to fail,” she told The Wall Street Journal last month.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump’s court proceedings in Georgia could be televised

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits next to his attorney Todd Blanche as he faces charges before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya that he orchestrated a plot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss, at federal court in Washington, U.S. August 3, 2023 in a courtroom sketch. At far left is U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith. 
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

While Federal courts largely prohibit the photographing and broadcasting of judicial proceedings, the court in Fulton County regularly broadcasts judicial proceedings, which could mean that former President Donald Trump’s case may be televised.

The broadcasting of Trump’s proceedings would give the public unprecedented access to what will be one of the most high-profile trials in American history.

Earlier this month, congressional Democrats, led by California Rep. Adam Schiff called for Trump’s federal criminal trials to be televised.

“If the public is to fully accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for it to witness, as directly as possible, how the trials are conducted, the strength of the evidence adduced and the credibility of witnesses,” wrote Schiff and 37 lawmakers in a letter to Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, who leads the administrative office of U.S. Courts.

— Amanda Macias

Trump, other defendants ‘constituted a criminal organization’

The indictment says that Trump and other defendants “constituted a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities.”

Those activities included “false statements and writings, impersonating public officer, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury.”

Dan Mangan

Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Trump ally lawyers indicted

Trump’s 2020 campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were indicted with the former president.

So was former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, and the Trump-allied lawyers John Eastman and Sidney Powell, and other Trump campaign officials. Jenna Ellis, an attorney who worked with Giuliani, also was charged.

Dan Mangan

Trump fundraises for 2024 campaign ahead of indictment

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he campaigns at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. August 12, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump continued fundraising in the leadup to the Georgia indictment.

Trump’s 2024 campaign sent out a fundraising email as the Georgia grand jury was weighing charges.

“But make no mistake, as long as we keep our foot on the gas, we will only continue to SURGE in every critical battleground state across the country.  With your support, we will not only maintain our massive leads in the most important battleground states, we will surge even higher,” Trump’s team said in a fundraising email earlier on Monday.

This is the latest effort by the Trump campaign to fundraise off of the former president’s legal challenges.

Brian Schwartz

Trump now faces criminal charges in 4 separate cases

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Steer N’ Stein bar at the Iowa State Fair on August 12, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

With charges returned in Georgia, Trump is now grappling with a staggering — and completely unprecedented — four simultaneous criminal cases.

Two federal cases against Trump stem from investigations led by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to oversee ongoing Trump-related investigations.

The first of Smith’s cases to yield criminal charges centers on Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House in 2021. The other federal case is related to Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in both of those cases, claiming he is the victim of a conspiracy by the Biden administration.

Trump has also previously pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Manhattan, where he is accused of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to women who say they had extramarital affairs with him.

While the charges pertain to separate investigations that have been conducted over the course of many years, all of the cases were filed in the months since Trump launched his 2024 presidential campaign.

No other U.S. president, current or former, has ever been criminally charged.

Kevin Breuninger

What is RICO, the felony Trump is charged with?

A document briefly posted on and then taken down from the official Fulton County, Georgia court website shows a list of potential felony charges against former President Donald Trump, after being downloaded by Reuters shortly before the court took the document back down without explanation, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 14, 2023. 
Julio Cesar Chavez | Reuters

RICO is short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, which stems from an act of the same name that dates back to the 1970s, when gang and organized crime violence was at the forefront of the public eye.

Today, at both the federal and state level, prosecutors use RICO acts to enhance the severity of charges against defendants. It allows prosecutors to charge individuals for crimes committed by or on behalf of a criminal organization.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that a formal criminal organization has to exist, however. Federal law merely requires that a crime be committed within an “enterprise,” or a group of individuals working towards a common goal.

In Georgia, where Trump was indicted, lawmakers passed a statewide RICO Act in 1980 that classifies those enhancements, or predicates, as a serious felony. Fani Willis has deployed RICO Act enhancements in a prosecution against affiliates of the rap group and label known as Young Stoner Life, or YSL, which was founded by Young Thug.

Under Georgia law, unlawful conduct can include any behavior “through a pattern of racketeering activity” that an accused uses to acquire or maintain “interest in or control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property of any nature, including money.”

— Rohan Goswami

Georgia grand jury indicts Trump

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump is directed to his vehicle after speaking at the Steer N’ Stein bar at the Iowa State Fair on August 12, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

A grand jury in Atlanta indicted Trump on charges related to his bid to overturn the result of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

The Fulton County Superior Court grand jury heard testimony all day from witnesses in the case.

The indictment is the fourth time since March that Trump has been indicted on criminal charges.

— Dan Mangan

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