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What to know about Trump’s criminal indictment in the Georgia election subversion case

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) — State charges unsealed earlier this week against Donald Trump and 18 others in the Georgia election subversion probe opened a new chapter in the former president’s post-White House legal saga and forced the nation to turn its attention to yet another complex criminal case concerning efforts to undermine Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

In a historic 41-count indictment handed up Monday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis accuses Trump, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, ex-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and others of being part of a broad “criminal enterprise” that attempted to overturn the 2020 election result in the Peach State.

The former president and current contender for the GOP presidential nomination is now facing four criminal cases – a legal predicament never-before-seen in the US for a current or former commander in chief.

Willis has given the defendants until noon on August 25 to voluntarily surrender. Trump is expected to surrender next week, a source with knowledge of the negotiations between Trump’s lawyers and Willis’ office tells CNN. Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat has said that all the defendants, including Trump, are expected to surrender at the Fulton County jail, as is common procedure.

Here’s what to know about the Georgia election probe.

A ‘criminal enterprise’ targeting Georgia’s election results

Willis’ yearslong investigation culminated in an Atlanta-area grand jury handing up a 98-page indictment late Monday that charged all 19 defendants of engaging in one way or another in a “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the 2020 election results in Georgia.

Willis, who brought 13 counts against Trump in the case, charged many of the defendants with fewer crimes, but at the heart of her indictment is the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which was brought against all of the defendants.

The state RICO law is similar to the federal version of the statue that targets so-called criminal enterprises. Georgia’s law allows prosecutors to pull an array of conduct – including activities that took place outside of the state of Georgia but may have been part of a broad conspiracy – into their indictments.

“The enterprise constituted an ongoing organization whose members and associates functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise,” the 98-page indictment states.

Prosecutors say the criminal actions the charge is built around include: making false statements, filing false documents and forgeries, impersonating officials, computer breaches and attempts to influence witnesses. And they say it took place not only in Georgia but also in other places, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington, DC.

Those convicted of racketeering charges face steeper penalties, a point of leverage for prosecutors if they are hoping to flip potential co-conspirators or encourage defendants to take plea deals.

Early legal hurdles

Already, Willis’ office is facing some legal hurdles in her case.

On Tuesday, Meadows, who’s facing two state charges, mounted a bid to transfer his case from the Superior Court in Fulton County to the federal court for the US Northern District of Georgia – a process officially referred to as “removal.”

Trump is also expected to try to move the case to federal court, according to multiple sources familiar with his legal team’s thinking.

Successfully transferring their cases to federal court could provide some key advantages, including the possibility that they could end up with a jury pool more sympathetic than the one they might get from around Atlanta, where the state courthouse for this case is based. The district that includes Fulton County also includes the heavily Republican northern part of the state.

The move would also fall in line with Trump’s usual legal strategy of delaying proceedings by mucking up the works. It’s something he tried in the hush money criminal case brought against him in New York, but a federal judge rejected that effort last month. Trump has pleaded not guilty in that case.

Grand juror information circulates online

Names, photographs, social media profiles and even the home addresses purportedly belonging to members of the grand jury that this week voted to indict the 19 defendants are circulating on social media – with experts saying that some anonymous users are calling for violence against them.

CNN cannot independently verify if the photographs, social media accounts and the homes addresses being posted actually belong to the grand jurors.

However, the names being circulated on these sites appear to match the names of at least 13 of the 26 grand jurors that served on the panel in Fulton County. It’s unclear if those names are the actual grand jurors or people with the same name. Some addresses appear to be wrong.

In one instance, one pro-Trump personality shared screenshots with his more than 2 million followers showing what were purportedly the social media profiles of the grand jurors. That post has since been removed.

Giuliani’s money woes

For Giuliani,defending himself could be complicated given his current financial woes.

CNN reported earlier this week that the ex-Trump attorney and former New York mayor is staring down hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills and sanctions amid numerous lawsuits in addition to the new criminal charges – related to his work for Trump after the election.

Not including standard legal fees, Giuliani faces nearly $90,000 in sanctions from a judge in a defamation case, a $20,000 monthly fee to a company to host his electronic records, $15,000 or more for a search of his records, and even a $57,000 judgment against his company for unpaid phone bills.

“These are a lot of bills that he’s not paying,” Giuliani attorney Adam Katz told a New York state court on Wednesday. “I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.”

91 charges

With the charges in Willis’ case, Trump now faces a total of 91 state and federal criminal charges across four different cases.

The case brought against Trump in New York by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg include 34 felony counts related to an alleged hush money scheme.

Trump faces 40 counts in Smith’s case against the former president and two of his employees in which Smith accuses the former president of illegally retaining classified documents from his time in the White House.

And in August, the special counsel brought four charges against Trump for attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed, Alayna Treene, Donie O’Sullivan, Marshall Cohen, Nick Valencia, Katelyn Polantz and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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