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Donald Trump charged in 2020 Georgia election interference case

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

He and 18 others have been indicted on counts that include racketeering in a 41-charge document issued by a Fulton County grand jury.

The indictment marks the fourth time Mr Trump has been criminally charged this year.

He has denied the accusations in all cases.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched an investigation in February 2021 into allegations of election meddling against Mr Trump and his associates.

The list of defendants indicted late on Monday night includes former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House lawyer John Eastman and a former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark.

The indictment says the alleged co-conspirators “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump”.

The charge sheet also refers to the defendants as a “criminal organization”, accusing them of a number of crimes, including:

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

The most serious charge, violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico) Act, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The act – designed to help take down organised criminal syndicates like the mafia – helps prosecutors connect the dots between underlings who broke laws and those who gave them marching orders.

Mr Trump, currently the frontrunner in the Republican Party’s race to pick its next candidate for the White House, said the investigation by Ms Willis, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

In a statement, the Trump campaign described the district attorney as a “rabid partisan” who had filed “these bogus indictments” to interfere with the 2024 presidential race and “damage the dominant Trump campaign”.

“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,” said the statement.

There was confusion earlier on Monday when a list of a criminal charges against Mr Trump appeared on a Fulton County website before the grand jury had even voted to return an indictment.

The filing said Mr Trump had been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and making false statements.

A spokesperson for Ms Willis said the document was “fictitious” but did not explain how it ended up on the court’s website.

Mr Trump and his allies seized on the apparent clerical error to claim the process was rigged.

Mr Trump has already been charged by federal prosecutors in Washington DC with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden, a Democrat. That charge sheet devoted significant time to the Trump team’s activities in Georgia.

Ms Willis’ investigation focuses specifically on Georgia, a key battleground state for the US presidency that Mr Trump narrowly lost.

In January 2021, Mr Trump was recorded on a phone call asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, the number he would have required to beat Mr Biden in that state.

At least eight “fake electors”, who signed a bogus certificate claiming Mr Trump won the election in that state, have reached immunity deals in the case after agreeing to interviews with Fulton County prosecutors.

Source: BBC

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