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“A Criminal Enterprise”
Trump gets the mob boss treatment.
“At all times relevant to this Count of the Indictment, the Defendants, as well as others not named as defendants, unlawfully conspired and endeavored to conduct and participate in criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere.”
—The Indictment of Donald J. Trump and 18 others, August 14, 2023
Racketeering, forgery, election fraud, false statements, perjury, soliciting public officers to violate their oaths.
Donald Trump’s lengthy legal resume now includes an additional 13 felony counts in Georgia, including RICO charges that are usually associated with mob bosses.
Like the federal law on which it is based, the state RICO law was originally designed to dismantle organized crime groups, but over the years it has come to be used to prosecute other crimes, from white collar Ponzi and embezzlement schemes to public corruption cases.
All the President’s Conspirators — Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell — and their plot to overturn the election.
The whole sorry parade of lies.
The phone call where The Don demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” 11,780 votes.
The fake electors. The coverup. Tampering with voting machines.
Smearing and harassing election workers.
In its 98-page indictment of Trump and his henchmen, the Fulton County grand jury laid out the criminal conspiracy in full:
“Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump. That conspiracy contained common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states.”
Predictably, the former president spent the night railing against “an out of control and very corrupt District Attorney,” but he now faces (an additional) 71 years in prison if he is convicted. He has 10 days to turn himself in, at which point he will have a mugshot taken.
Exit take from Jonathan Chait: “Maybe, just maybe, the reason Trump keeps getting indicted for crimes is not that the criminal justice system is in the grips of a vast liberal conspiracy but that he is, in fact, a criminal?”
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Why Georgia is different
As a thousand pundits will remind you today, the latest charges are unlikely to “move the needle.” Trump remains the overwhelming favorite to be his party’s nominee for president next year.
As CNN’s Stephen Collison notes:
“The most astonishing aspect of former President Donald Trump’s fourth criminal indictment is not the scale of an alleged multi-layered conspiracy to steal Georgia’s electoral votes in 2020 from their rightful winner.”
It is that Trump – the accused kingpin of the scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, who was charged on Monday along with 18 others – could in 17 months be raising his right hand as the 47th president and swearing to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution he was accused of plotting to shred.
True. But the GOP frontrunner now faces trial on felony charges in New York, Florida, D.C., and Atlanta.Via CNN: “Former President Donald Trump has been charged with 91 crimes in four criminal cases, in four different jurisdictions.”
Overview of the cases
Manhattan prosecutors’ hush-money case: 34 counts against Trump
DOJ special counsel’s classified documents case: 40 counts against Trump
DOJ special counsel’s election subversion case: 4 counts against Trump
Atlanta prosecutors’ Georgia election meddling case: 13 counts against Trump
But this new case is different from the others. Yesterday, before the actual indictment came down, Axios explained why the new case could be so damaging to Trump:
RICO cases are complex and “a major incentive for co-defendants to seek deals in return for new evidence.”
Because it’s a state charge, there is no presidential pardon available.
“In Georgia, the power to pardon is vested under the state constitution to a Board of Pardons and Paroles, which requires that a sentence be completed at least five years prior to applying for a pardon.”
This trial will be televised. “Georgia may end up being the only case that is broadcast to the world, potentially giving the public a better chance to digest the evidence — which could be politically damning for Trump.”
Nota Bene: “Trump will seek to remove the GA state case to federal court (he tried without success to do that in NY case). If that works, the trial will NOT be televised.” — Andrew Weissmann.
Where Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith took pains to acknowledge Trump’s First Amendment rights and appeared to craft the charges to avoid butting up against free speech concerns, the Georgia indictment doesn’t tread so gingerly. The very first overt act it cites in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy is Trump’s speech declaring victory in the early morning following Election Day. Overt acts don’t have to constitute crimes in and of themselves, but using a candidate’s victory speech as evidence against him is one aggressive move.
The Corruption of Lindsey Graham: Episode 7
Even with Trump out of the White House, Lindsey Graham says that Trump is the organizing principle of the Republican Party. And everything the senator once valued—national security, human rights, and the Constitution—play second fiddle to his loyalty to Trump. This special series, The Corruption of Lindsey Graham, has been presented by The Bulwark Podcast.
I sat down with Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien for a wide-ranging conversation about the devolution of the GOP, and where we go next.
1. I Remember the Afghans We Left Behind
Last month, after completing an arduous two-year command tour, I voluntarily admitted myself into the Strong Hope military mental health program at Salt Lake Behavioral Health Hospital, which specializes in combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), moral injury, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Stripped of all my possessions and contact with the outside world, I finally faced the demons created from 1500 days in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 28 days, I spent nearly 100 hours in intense therapy—eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), cognitive processing therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychodrama, and counseling for moral injury.
During this treatment, I faced the intense shame I felt for leaving my Afghan allies behind. I realized that the only way to conquer my demons was to move on from Afghanistan, which felt like an enormous betrayal to those left behind.
Through the help of my therapists, I realized that I had to channel the shame, betrayal, and rage into something productive. Something good had to come from all this suffering.
By sharing my Afghan brothers’ stories, I hope to memorialize them so we don’t forget the pledges my brothers- and sisters-in arms made on our behalf.
2. Conservative group launches campaign to push for GOP support for Ukraine
Defending Democracy Together, an organization led by Republican strategist Sarah Longwell and conservative political commentator Bill Kristol, is launching “Republicans for Ukraine” to get congressional Republicans to commit to continue funding aid for Ukraine ahead of what is likely to be a lengthy appropriations fight.
The organization gathered testimony from more than 50 pro-Ukraine Republican voters, which will be shared in an ad campaign that will air starting Tuesday until the end of the year.
3. Inside Mitch McConnell's Attempt to Thwart Donald Trump
Of all the ways Trump has reshaped the Republican Party, it’s clear that McConnell sees the drift toward isolationism as the most pernicious — particularly at a moment when the fate of Ukraine and perhaps even NATO countries could be determined by the resolve of the Republican Party.
“I think, and this got me attacked by Tucker Carlson back when he was still on his show, I think the most important thing going on internationally right now is the Ukraine war,” McConnell told me.
4. Guns for Tots: What Could Go Wrong?
The JR-15 was unveiled in January 2022, a few months before a shooter armed with an assault rifle killed 19 children and two adults and injured 17 others at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. It got a fresh promotional boost in January 2023, about two weeks after a six-year-old in Virginia shot his first-grade teacher.
That same month, the fact-checking website Snopes looked into the JR-15 and confirmed that, you heard right, there really is a company selling a semiautomatic rifle for children. “As 2023 began with a number of harrowing stories about children shooting themselves or others due to their access to guns, one company was selling a rifle that they said was ‘safe and instructive’ for children,” the site reported. (The article included an embedded video of an interview with Wee 1 founder Eric Schmid, during which the interviewer mentions having gotten both of his kids started with shooting firearms around age 3. “That’s great,” Schmid replies.)