A Georgia prosecutor is expected to begin Monday the formal process of presenting charges in the case against ex-President Donald Trump for seeking to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election in that state. This could lead to a grand jury indictment as early as Tuesday, not only of Trump but of as many as 20 co-conspirators, including both close Trump aides and leading figures in the Georgia Republican Party.
It would be the fourth criminal indictment against Trump this year and the second on charges relating to his illegal efforts to overturn the election, which culminated in the violent January 6, 2021 attack on Congress by a mob of his supporters. Like the federal case filed against Trump last month, the main focus of the Georgia case is the effort by Trump to present fake “electors” to Congress, supposedly chosen by the voters of the state, who had actually voted by a narrow margin for Democrat Joe Biden.
Amid widespread media reports that Fulton County (Atlanta) prosecutor Fani Willis was prepared to bring charges this week—she had earlier said that her 2½-year investigation would lead to the filing of charges in the first half of August—there was a report on CNN that top Trump aides had been directly connected to the illegal breach of a voting system in Coffee County in the far southeast of the state.
Unnamed prosecutors told the cable network that they were in possession of text messages and emails connecting these aides to an effort in the small rural county to prove that voting machines and software provided by Dominion Voting Systems had been used to “flip” votes from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden.
Several of Trump’s lawyers in 2020 promoted the attack on Dominion Voting Systems, which was taken up as well by Fox News. The company, which supplies a sizable proportion of state and local election authorities in the United States, later sued Fox and won a $770 million libel judgement against the network for promoting baseless claims against it.
A local election official, identified by CNN as Misty Hampton, sent a “written invitation” to Trump’s attorneys to come and inspect the voting system, without legal authorization. They did so on January 7, 2021, one day after the mob attack on Congress.
Hampton had already delayed certification of Biden’s victory in Georgia by refusing to validate recount results. Hers was the only one of Georgia’s 159 counties to do so. She also posted a video criticizing the Dominion voting system, which was then used by Trump lawyers and cited at a December 18, 2020 White House meeting where several Trump supporters, including Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, urged that Trump send in the military to seize voting machines and rerun the election in key states, at gunpoint.
The actual results in Coffee County belied such suspicions, as Trump saw his margin of victory there increase, from 5,485 votes more than Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 to 6,067 votes more than Biden in 2020. Trump won Georgia in 2016 by 231,323 votes, or 4.7 percent, but lost in 2020 by 11,779 votes, largely because of a shift towards the Democratic candidate in the suburbs of Atlanta.
The team of prosecutors led by Willis notified 18 people last year that they were targets of her investigation, including Trump, his top election lawyer and spokesman Rudy Giuliani, and many of the 16 Georgia Republicans who served as fake electors for Trump, claiming falsely to have been elected by the voters of Georgia in papers filed with Congress.
Eight of the 16 electors have since been immunized by Willis in return for their testimony about how the fake elector scheme was organized, including the role of top Trump aides and possibly Trump himself.
Unlike several other “battleground” states, Trump was personally involved in efforts to overturn the Biden victory in Georgia, notoriously telephoning Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and urging him to “find” 11,780 votes, enough to overcome Biden’s lead in the state.
In the course of the conversation, which Raffensperger recorded and later released publicly, Trump threatened to prosecute him if he failed to comply with the demand that he steal the election and hand over Georgia’s 16 electoral votes to Trump. The campaign to pressure Raffensperger is believed to be one of the charges incorporated into the Fulton County indictment.
Press reports also suggest that Willis will invoke Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization) statute, similar to the federal statute that was originally directed against the Mafia but has been far more widely used against other criminal conspiracies.
The similarity to the Mafia is not accidental. The Georgia investigation includes harassment of two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, whom Giuliani in particular singled out for allegations of ballot stuffing, claiming that a surveillance video showed them “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine.” The two were then targeted by Trump supporters with death threats that compelled them to move out of their home for a period.
Willis has herself been the target of death threats and allowed most of her staff to work remotely rather than risk coming to the office, which is under the protection of armed guards and barricades.
The state election board has found no evidence of fraud and cleared Freeman and Moss of any wrongdoing. The two have sued Giuliani for defamation, and last month he admitted that he had lied and did not contest that his “factual statements were false.” Nonetheless, he claimed that these lies were constitutionally protected free speech—a preview of the defense now being offered for Trump’s statements promoting the “stolen election” lie that was the precursor to the violence of January 6.
It is significant that none of the prosecutors—all Democrats or appointed by Democrats—has charged Trump with any crime directly related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Willis is bringing charges limited to Georgia, while the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith focuses on the fake elector scheme and does not charge Trump with seeking to overthrow the government on January 6 or install himself as president-dictator.
In the case of the Georgia prosecution, the Department of Justice has actually blocked efforts to obtain the testimony of Jeffrey Clark, the former assistant attorney general who was an open supporter of the Trump coup plan, at one point considered by Trump as a possible selection for acting attorney general. It was Clark who, according to the federal indictment of Trump, raised the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act if there were public protests against Trump remaining in office in defiance of the 2020 election results.
This is in keeping with the general policy of Biden and the Democratic Party leadership, who have sought to minimize the significance of the events of January 6 and, in particular, to avoid examining the broader effort to support a Trump coup on the part of sections of the military-intelligence apparatus and virtually the entire House Republican caucus.
These efforts are a desperate effort to conceal the mounting crisis of the entire US political system, in which the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is a political criminal who has consistently declared in two previous elections that he will not accept the result of the vote if he loses and who in 2020 mobilized fascist gangs to attack the Capitol.
At the same time, Trump’s supporters in Congress and the media are making use of the evident corruption of Biden’s son Hunter—which may well extend to the president himself—to claim that the “Biden crime family” has sold out America to its enemies, particularly China.
An atmosphere of violence overshadows the election campaign, more than a year before the votes will be counted, if indeed they are to be counted. There are constant, escalating threats from the Republican side. Michigan state Representative Matt Maddock, a Republican whose wife claimed to be an elector for Trump in that state, told supporters that “civil war” would break out if the Democratic state attorney general went ahead with the prosecution of the 16 fake electors.
“Someone’s going to get so pissed off, they’re going to shoot someone,” Maddock continued, according to a recording. “Or we’re going have a civil war or some sort of revolution. That’s where this is going.” He went on to compare the treatment of Republicans to the Nazi gas chambers.