Trump and 18 associates were charged with meddling in the Georgia election

ATLANTA (AP) — Donald Trump And 18 associates were indicted Monday in Georgia in connection with efforts to thwart his 2020 election loss, a law prosecutors routinely use. Associated with gangs Alleging a “criminal enterprise” to keep the former president, lawyers and other aides in power.

The nearly 100-page indictment details dozens of actions by Trump or his associates Cancel his defeat, including pleading with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State to get enough votes for him to win the battleground state; Harassing an election worker who faces false allegations of fraud; And trying to persuade Georgia lawmakers to ignore the will of the electorate and appoint a new list of Electoral College electors favorable to Trump.

In one particularly brazen episode, it also outlines a plot involving one of his lawyers to access voting machines in a rural Georgia county and steal data from a voting machine company.

“Instead of complying with Georgia’s statutory procedure for election challenges, the indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in a criminal fraudulent enterprise to defeat the outcome of Georgia’s presidential election,” Fulton County District Attorney said. Fanny Williswhose office brought the case, told a nightly news conference.

Other defendants include a former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Trump is a lawyer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; And the Trump administration’s Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clarke, spearheaded the then-president’s efforts to reverse his election loss in Georgia. Other attorneys who espoused legally dubious views were also charged, including John Eastman, Sidney Powell, and Kenneth Chesbro.

The defendants will be allowed to voluntarily surrender until the afternoon of August 25, Willis said. He also said that he plans to request a trial date within six months and wants to try the defendants jointly.

The criminal cases — four in five months, each in a different city — constitute a significant criminal caseload — a threat to anyone, never mind someone like Trump, who juggles the roles of criminal defendant and presidential candidate.

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It comes two weeks after the Justice Department special counsel indicted him Conspiracy to overturn the electionJan. 6, 2021, underscoring how prosecutors have moved to hold Trump accountable for an attack on the foundations of American democracy, two and a half years after the lengthy hearings that followed the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

The Georgia case, similar to Trump’s latest indictment in Washington, involves efforts by him and his allies to disrupt the election count in the Capitol. But the broad net of defendants — 19 in all — the indictment differs from the more tightly targeted case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, which so far only names Trump as a defendant.

In accusing close Trump aides identified by Smith as unindicted co-conspirators, the Georgia indictment alleges a level of criminal conduct beyond the former president.

The criminal document accuses the former president, his former chief of staff, Trump’s lawyers and the former New York mayor of being “members of a criminal organization” and “organization” in language that conjures up a sinister underworld of mob bosses and mob leaders. ” It worked in Georgia and other states.

The indictment brought to court a chaotic day caused by a brief but mysterious posting of a list on a district website. Criminal charges was to be brought against the former President. Reuters, which published a copy of the document, said the filing was quickly removed.

A Willis spokeswoman said later in the afternoon that it was “incorrect” to say an indictment had already been returned, but declined to comment further on a kerfuffle that the Trump legal team was quick to attack the integrity of the investigation.

Trump and his allies immediately seized on the apparent error of framing the investigation as politically motivated and claiming the process was rigged. Trump’s campaign aimed to raise funds for it, then sent an email with the deleted document embedded.

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After the indictment was released, Trump’s legal team said in a statement, “The events that unfolded today are shocking and absurd, that a presumptive and premeditated indictment was leaked before witnesses had testified or before grand juries had concluded deliberations. The district collector could not provide any explanation.

Prosecutors presenting their case “rely on witnesses with personal and political interests — some of whom have run campaigns against the accused for their efforts.”

Many of the 161 acts by Trump and his associates outlined in the Georgia indictment have already received widespread attention. In which A Jan. 2, 2021, Trump urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to overturn his election loss. Prosecutors said the call violated a Georgia law requiring a public official to violate their oath.

It also accuses Trump of making false statements and writings for a series of claims he made to Raffensberger and other state election officials, including that 4,500 people mysteriously cast 300,000 votes in the 2020 election. who is not on the register and is a Fulton County election worker; Ruby FreemanA “professional vote rigger.”

Giuliani, meanwhile, has been accused of making false statements to lawmakers, claiming that more than 96,000 mail-in ballots in Georgia were counted and 6,000 ballots for Biden in Michigan that were actually cast for Trump.

In a statement, Giuliani did not directly respond to any of the allegations, but called the allegations “an affront to American democracy” and “the next chapter in a book of lies.”

Prosecutors say the individuals helped Trump and his allies under Georgia influence and intimidated election workers.

A man named Stephen Clifford Lee was accused by prosecutors of traveling to Freeman’s home “with the intent to influence his testimony.” Freeman and her daughter, Shay Moss, testified to Congress last year about how Trump and his associates combined surveillance footage from November 2020 to accuse the two women of voter fraud — allegations that were quickly dismissed but circulated widely in conservative media.

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Both women, who are black, faced death threats for months after the election.

The indictment accuses Powell and several co-defendants of tampering with voting machines in Coffey County, Georgia, and stealing data from Dominion Voting Systems, which makes and supplies the tabulation machines that have long been the focus of conspiracy theories.

According to evidence made public by a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots, Trump allies targeted Coffey County in search of evidence for their theories of widespread voter fraud that allegedly involved copying data and software.

In addition to the two election-related cases, Trump faces a separate federal indictment Illegal storage of confidential documents Also A New York State Case Charged him with false business records.

As the allegations mounted, Trump — the leading Republican candidate for president in 2024 — often emphasizes his distinction He is the only former president to face criminal charges. He is one Campaigning and fundraising Around these themes, he portrayed himself as a victim of Democratic suitors out to get him.

Republican allies quickly rallied to Trump’s defense again. “Americans see through this desperate hypocrisy,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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Associated Press writers Jeffrey Martin, Brian Anderson, Bill Barrow, Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Jill Colvin and Michael R. in New York. Sisak; Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Alana Durkin Richer in Boston; Farnoosh Amiri in Washington; Christine Fernando in Chicago; Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; and Leah Schein in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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