Donald Trump: ex-US President charged with attempting to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia

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Donald Trump has been indicted with scheming to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia

Donald Trump has been charged with illegally attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state of Georgia.

The former US President has been indicted on counts that include forgery, racketeering, and violating an oath of office as prosecutors accused him of a sweeping criminal conspiracy designed to keep himself in power. Eighteen of his allies - including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani - have also been charged.

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It marks the second time Trump has been charged in connection to his alleged scheme to overturn the will of United States voters after losing to Joe Biden in 2020 - and the fourth time he has faced criminal charges this year. He has denied all allegations.

The 97-page indictment details dozens of acts by Trump and his allies to undo his defeat in the battleground state. These include:

  • Impersonating a public officer
  • Forgery
  • Filing false documents
  • Influencing witnesses
  • Computer trespass
  • Conspiracy to defraud the state
  • Theft and perjury

The most serious charge - racketeering - is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. It is most often used against organised crime groups such as the Mafia, and helps prosecutors connect the dots between underlings who broke the law and those who ordered them to do so.

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4, 2023. Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesFormer US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4, 2023. Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Former US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4, 2023. Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images | Getty Images

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis first launched an investigation into allegations of election meddling back in February 2021.

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This followed Trump and an array of his associates making false claims of election fraud relating to the 2020 presidential election - after he narrowly lost to current US President Biden in the state of Georgia - as well as the emergence of a phone call in which Trump asked the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” 11,780 extra votes. This is the number he would have needed to beat Biden, the current US President, in that state.

“Trump and the other defendants charged in this indictment refused to accept that Trump lost and they knowingly and wilfully joined conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favour of Trump,” the indictment said.

The document also describes the former US President, his lawyers, and aides as members of a “criminal organisation” who were part of an “enterprise” that operated in Georgia and other states – language reminiscient of that used to detail the operations of mob bosses and gang leaders.

Speaking in a press conference, District Attorney Fani Willis asked those listening to bear in mind that “everyone charged in this indictment is presumed innocent”.

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images | Getty Images

In a statement responding to the indictment, Trump’s campaign group described District Attorney Fani Willis as a “rabid partisan” who had filed “these bogus indictments” to interfere with the 2024 presidential race. This latest co-ordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people but also exposes the true motivation driving their fabricated accusations.

“They could have brought this two and a half years ago, yet they chose to do this for election interference reasons in the middle of President Trump’s successful campaign. The legal double-standard set against President Trump must end.”

The news comes just two weeks after the Justice Department charged Trump in a vast conspiracy to overturn the election. Led by special counsel Jack Smith, the tightly targeted case only names Trump as a defendant - in stark comparison to the 19 figures named in the case in Georgia.

These figures include Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and a Trump administration Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark - as well as:

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  • John Eastman
  • Kenneth Chesebro
  • Jenna Ellis
  • Ray Stallings Smith III
  • Robert Cheeley
  • Michael Roman
  • David Shafer
  • Stephen Cliffgard Lee
  • Harrison William Prescott Floyd
  • Trevian C. Kutti
  • Sidney Powell
  • Cathleen Alston Latham
  • Shawn Micah Tresher Still
  • Scott Graham Hall
  • Misty Hampton

The Georgia indictment also stands out because, unlike the two federal prosecutions he faces, Trump would not have the opportunity to try to pardon himself if elected US President (which could still happen even if he is charged) - or to control the outcome by appointing an attorney general who could theoretically ‘make it go away’.

One of the key incidents in the case is a phone call Trump was recorded making in January 2021, in which he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes - the number he would have needed to beat Biden in that state. “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state,” Trump said. Raffensperger refused.

This is not the only legal trouble Trump is facing. In June, Trump became the first current or former US President to be charged with a federal crime after a grand jury indicted him on 37 charges related to his handling of classified documents, including national defence information, after leaving the White House.

In April, Trump became the first former or current US President to face criminal charges at all when a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him over hush money payments allegedly paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 presidential election.

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He also faces lawsuits relating to his conduct on 6 January, the day a mob of his supporters attacked the US Capitol following a fiery speech he gave after his presidential defeat. Other cases the former US President has been involved in this year include when a jury found him liable of sexual abuse against E Jean Carroll - although this was a civil rather than a criminal case.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all allegations.

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