Updated Aug 15, 2023, 6:23am EDT
politicsNorth America

Trump’s Georgia indictment may be the one that sticks

The first page of a 98-page grand jury indictment listing 19 defendants and 41 criminal counts, including felony charges of racketeering against former U.S. President Donald Trump, is seen after being released by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 14, 2023. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

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The News

A 98-page indictment handed down against former U.S. President Donald Trump late on Monday may present his biggest threat yet. The charges alleges that Trump worked with 18 co-conspirators to overturn the 2020 election results in the crucial battleground of Georgia.

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  • Trump faces racketeering charges, which are most commonly used to prosecute organized crime. District Attorney Fani Willis didn’t just focus on the former president’s alleged activities in Georgia, instead fusing together Trump’s actions in other states. The result is a spanning case that “makes her probe more consistent with the federal case. It may also strengthen it,” The Economist notes. “If Mr Trump is indeed convicted of crimes in the state, no president or governor will have the power to pardon him.”
  • That this case against Trump is transpiring on a state level is significant. It means there is no federal oversight of the case, so it cannot be shut down if Trump or another Republican wins the 2024 presidential election. But that same protection has a possible dark side, too: “A nation in which local district attorneys feel empowered to charge presidents, current or former, is a potentially chaotic one,” David A. Graham writes for The Atlantic.
  • Willis’s indictment is able to point to a specific part of the penal code to show that Trump’s “conduct was not only egregious but illegal,” the National Review’s Andrew McCarthy writes. That might make it more poignant than the recent indictment brought forward by federal Special Counsel Jack Smith: While Smith was able to outline Trump’s alleged conduct, there aren’t federal statues that directly apply to it. That means “Smith’s application of the federal legal concepts of fraud, obstruction, and civil rights is highly debatable,” McCarthy writes.