A Look at the Racketeering Case Against Trump in Georgia
Elections & Politics Policy Brief #106 | By: Abigail Hunt | November 6, 2023
Photo taken from: newsweek.com
In the state of Georgia, Trump is currently out on a $200,000 bond for 13 felony indictments. The individuals charged alongside Trump are a familiar roster of faces from his presidency and campaign. Trump & Co. face charges related to their orchestrated attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Each faces criminal racketeering charges under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Pending charges in Georgia against Trump and his 18 co-defendants include:
- falsifying votes
- persuasion, intimidation, harassment, and threats of state officials, including election workers and electors.
- employing people to cast fake electoral college votes in favor of Trump.
- tampering with voting machines
In addition to those listed above, Trump faces 12 additional counts, including solicitation of a public official to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery with false electors, conspiring to commit false statements, making false statements, conspiring to file false documents, perjury, and filing false writings.
Trump’s co-defendants are a laundry list of former political appointees and legal associates:
- Mark Meadows, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff
- Jeffrey Clark, former assistant U.S. attorney general
- Michael Roman, Trump campaign worker and White House aide
- Sidney Powell, attorney for 2020 Trump election campaign
- Jenna Ellis, attorney
- Kenneth Chesebro, attorney for 2020 Trump election campaign
- Ray Smith III, attorney
- Rudolph Giuliani, attorney
- Robert Cheeley, attorney
- John Eastman, attorney
- Stephen Lee, police chaplain
- Misty Hampton, Elections Director, Coffee County, GA (former)
- Harrison Floyd, Director, Black Voices for Trump
- Trevian Kutti, publicist
- Scott Hall, bail bondsman (Atlanta)
- Shawn Still, GOP chair (GA) (former)
- Cathleen Latham, GOP county chair, (Coffee County, GA) (former)
- David Shafer, GOP chair (GA) (former)
As is usually the case with co-defendants, they have started signing plea deals to testify on behalf of the state in exchange for reduced sentencing. First among those to deal was bondsman Scott Hall, who pled guilty in September to five misdemeanors for his role in interfering with the 2020 election process. Hall’s convictions include conspiracy to unlawfully access voter information and ballot-counting machines at the county election office. In October, three more pleas followed, these for Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis. Chesebro pleaded guilty to the felony charge of filing false documents wherein Trump and his cohorts employed “false electors” to file votes for Trump with the National Archives and Congress – false documentation which Chesebro created and distributed – in states where Joe Biden won. Chesebro’s punishment? Five years’ probation and a $5,000 fine. Powell, who spread false rumors of voter fraud, pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors for tampering with election equipment and received probation. The week after pleading out, Powell took to Truth Social and Telegram to de-cry the D.A.’s office for “extortion” in negotiating a plea deal with her and to continue to spread misinformation about the 2020 election. Ellis pleaded guilty to one of the two felony charges she faced, for aiding and abetting false statements and writings. The foursome – depending on their behavior and if their plea deals “stick” – will be state witnesses against their co-defendants in Georgia court. These plea deals lay the groundwork for solidifying both the Georgia and D.C. cases against Trump, both cases stemming from Trump & Co.’s conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Each co-defendant gives their statement as a part of their plea deal. These statements are collected to paint a clear step-by-step picture of the criminal actions. When the federal trial against Trump in D.C. begins in spring 2024, each co-defendant who has made an agreement with the D.A. will likely offer their testimony in both trials. So far, Trump and 14 others have pled not guilty, indicating their desire to go to trial to fight the charges. However, there is “many a slip twixt a cup and a lip,” and the defense attorneys for the other co-defendants are likely already negotiating with Willis’s office to cement the best outcomes for their clients. MSNBC and CNN report six other co-defendants are in discussion with the D.A. for a plea deal, including Misty Hampton and Michael Roman. Reportedly, attorney Robert Cheeley already received an offer.
Trump continues to spout off on social media. Ol’ 45’s tirades are now somewhat limited in their capacity; he is under court order requiring he remain silent on co-defendants and witnesses in his case. Court-ordered silence will hopefully keep co-defendants from conspiring with one another and attempting to influence those who might testify against them. The more important desired outcome of that silence is that the district attorney’s narrative, once presented in court, will shock the jury so that conviction is more likely.