Former U.S. president Donald Trump has been indicted in Georgia, after an investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.
Eighteen others were also indicted, including Trump’s personal lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
Willis launched the probe in February 2021 after news broke that the former president was recorded during a Jan. 2, 2021.
He said that there was a phone call pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes, enough to win in Georgia.
Trump had insisted that making the call was appropriate.
The investigation also focused on a plan to assemble a slate of fake electors to meet in secret at the state Capitol.
The planned meeting would be to cast votes for Trump in spite of Joe Biden having won a majority of votes in the state.
And to use the competing slates to throw Georgia’s result into turmoil when Congress met to certify the election results on Jan. 6, 2021.
A special grand jury that heard evidence in the case for roughly seven months recommended more than a dozen people for indictment.
Its forewoman hinted in an interview with The New York Times in February that Trump was among them.
Willis needed approval from a regular grand jury, which voted Monday to bring charges.
Willis, a Democrat, was reportedly focused on charging Trump and his associates under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act.
This will allow her to prosecute numerous people allegedly involved in a potentially wide-ranging criminal scheme.
The Act is broader than the federal RICO law.
Nearly 20 people were informed that they could face charges in the investigation.
In a statement released by his campaign, Trump accused Willis of waiting to seek charges until it would influence the 2024 presidential campaign.
Former Georgia lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan, one of the witnesses who testified before the grand jury Monday, called the investigation a pivot point in American politics.
“As Republicans, we either are going to have to take our medicine and realise the election wasn’t rigged, Donald Trump was the worst candidate ever in the history of the party.
“Now we are going to have to pivot from there,’’ Duncan told reporters as he left the courthouse.
Earlier in the day Trump posted on Truth Social that Duncan shouldn’t testify.
On July 31, a Fulton County judge rejected an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to gut the district attorney’s investigation before criminal charges were announced.
Security around the courthouse in Atlanta has increased over the last few weeks.
On Tuesday, law enforcement will close security gates around the state Capitol for an undetermined period of time in anticipation of potential protests.
Protesters gathered outside the statehouse after Trump lost in 2020.
Trump’s indictment by a Georgia grand jury adds to a growing list of legal troubles amid his presidential campaign.
Trump was indicted Aug. 1, in Washington, DC, following an investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into actions that Trump and his allies allegedly took to keep him in office despite losing the 2020 election.
He was arraigned in that case on Aug. 3, pleading not guilty to all four felony charges.
Trump is also scheduled to go to trial in New York in March for state charges related to payments allegedly made during the 2016 presidential campaign to cover up an affair with porn actor Stormy Daniels.
He has another trial scheduled for May on 39 federal charges brought by Smith related to his retention of classified documents after he left office.
He has pleaded not guilty in both cases. (dpa/NAN)