Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday on charges of racketeering and a string of election crimes after a sprawling, two-year probe into his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden in the US state of Georgia.
The case — relying on laws typically used to bring down mobsters — is the fourth targeting the 77-year-old Republican this year and could lead to a watershed moment, the first televised trial of a former president in US history.
Prosecutors in Atlanta charged Trump with 13 felony counts — compounding the legal threats he is facing in multiple jurisdictions as a firestorm of investigations imperils his bid for a second White House term.
Eighteen co-defendants were indicted in the probe, including Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who pressured local legislators over the result after the election, and Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
With Trump already due to go on trial in New York, south Florida and Washington, the latest charges herald the unprecedented scenario of the 2024 presidential election being litigated as much from the courtroom as the ballot box.
“Rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis told reporters.
Willis said Trump and his co-defendants had until noon on August 25 to “voluntarily surrender” to authorities, adding that she would like to go to trial within six months.
“So, the Witch Hunt continues!” Trump posted on his Truth Social platform.
“Sounds Rigged to me! Why didn’t they Indict 2.5 years ago? Because they wanted to do it right in the middle of my political campaign. Witch Hunt!”
His lawyers’ statement took issue with the “leak of a presumed and premature indictment before the witnesses had testified or the grand jurors had deliberated”, in what they say has been a “flawed and unconstitutional” process.
In response to similar allegations by the Trump campaign, Willis said: “I make decisions in this office based on the facts and the law. The law is completely nonpartisan.”
The twice-impeached Trump was charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as six conspiracy counts over alleged efforts to commit forgery, impersonate a public official and submit false statements and documents.
He is also accused of lying in statements and filing fake documents, as well as soliciting public officials to break their oaths.