More serious allegations against Donald Trump: In the US state of Georgia, the former president is facing a new extensive charge in connection with attempted voter fraud. A jury in Atlanta ruled that Trump should stand trial over his attempts to influence the outcome of Georgia's 2020 presidential election.
This emerges from the almost 100-page indictment that was published during the night (local time). In addition to Trump, 18 other people have been charged - including his former attorney Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows, his former White House chief of staff.
Trump had previously been indicted at the federal level for his campaign against his own defeat in the 2020 election. For him it is now the fourth charge. Never before in the history of the United States before Trump has an ex-president come to court for a crime. The Republican, who wants to run again in the 2024 presidential election, rejects all allegations and sees any criminal prosecution against him as an attempt by his opponents to prevent him from re-entering the White House. Trump's campaign team spoke of a purely political maneuver shortly before the indictment was published in Georgia.
The new indictment
Trump is now charged with eight counts in 13 counts. Among them is an offense that is usually used in cases of organized crime or mafia trials. According to the US media, the so-called Rico law also makes it possible to prosecute those responsible for the crimes of their co-conspirators. There are long prison sentences.
Specifically, Trump and accomplices are accused of urging public officials to violate their oath of office. The Republican is also accused of making false statements and submitting false documents. Overall, the indictment lists 19 counts in 41 cases against the 19 accused. Other people who are said to have participated in the plot are also mentioned. Prosecutor Fanni Willis said all of her efforts had the "illegal aim" of helping Trump win another term as president.
The indictment states that the former president and the other defendants "knowingly and intentionally engaged in a conspiracy to unlawfully alter the outcome of the election in Trump's favour." This works out in detail how the accused were connected to each other. This is important in view of the criminal offense that is usually used in cases of mafia-type machinations and organized crime.
The campaign against the outcome of the election
Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. To this day, however, he refuses to admit defeat. Instead, the 77-year-old claims undeterred that he was deprived of a victory through massive election fraud. Neither Trump nor his lawyers have presented any evidence to support these claims. Dozens of lawsuits brought by the Trump camp were dismissed by courts after the election, including the US Supreme Court. Trump's anti-election campaign culminated on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington. With the outbreak of violence, the mob tried to prevent the formal confirmation of Biden's election victory in parliament. Several people died at that time.
Georgia was one of the states that played a key role in the 2020 election outcome. At the time, Biden won in the state by a narrow margin of around 12,000 votes. Trump tried to have his election defeat there - as in other states - subsequently changed. Among other things, Trump bluntly called Georgia's chief election supervisor, his Republican party colleague Brad Raffensperger, in an hour-long phone call to "find" enough votes for him to "recalculate" and rotate the result. "I only want to find 11,780 votes (...) because we won the state," Trump said in the notorious phone call, a recording of which later became public.
Lawyers: Indictment is 'flawed and unconstitutional'
Trump's lawyers have dismissed charges against the ex-US President in connection with Georgia election interference as "flawed and unconstitutional". The events surrounding the indictment were "shocking and absurd," the lawyers said in a statement. For example, the jury relied on testimony from witnesses "who represented their own personal and political interests." A "detailed examination of this charge" is therefore expected.
The series of trials for Trump
In 2021, prosecutor Willis in Fulton County, Georgia, opened an investigation into these and other attempts to influence him that became public. Willis said Tuesday night all the defendants had until August 25 to appear in court to face the allegations. She aims to start the process within the next six months. However, the timing is at the discretion of the judge. According to observers, it is considered unlikely that the court proceedings could begin so quickly.
But Trump will have to fight four processes in the coming months - in the middle of the election campaign. In the past few months, charges have been brought against the Republican in three other cases in New York, Miami and Washington. The New York case is related to hush money payments to a porn star. The Miami case revolves around the safekeeping of top secret government documents in Trump's private home. In Washington, on the other hand, it is also about the 2020 election - about attempted election fraud and the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. In the case in Washington, Trump is accused of conspiracy against the United States, among other things.
None of these cases, and no possible conviction, preclude Trump from running for president or becoming president in 2024. The case in Georgia is not being heard at the federal level, but at the state level, so he could not pardon himself if he were convicted even if he won the election. In the cases under federal law, this might be possible.
Even with a victory in Georgia, Trump would not have won the 2020 election. However, at the same time he tried to overturn the results in several states at the same time - and thus collect enough votes to move into the White House.