Donald Trump has been indicted again, this time in Georgia, with prosecutors accusing him of illegally trying to overturn the state’s result in the last US presidential election.
Georgia, which usually leans towards Mr Trump’s Republican Party, voted for Democrat Joe Biden in 2020. Mr Trump infamously pressured the state’s Republican Secretary of State and top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to change that result in a recorded phone call. Mr Raffensperger resisted his efforts.
Late on Monday night, US time, the District-Attorney’s office in Fulton County, which encompasses Georgia’s capital city, Atlanta, charged Mr Trump and 18 other people in his orbit with crimes related to the election.
Mr Trump was charged with 13 counts under various statutes, and was given a deadline of August 25 to surrender for his arrest and arraignment.
District-Attorney Fani Willis alleges he, and the other defendants, “knowingly and wilfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election”.
Mr Trump’s alleged co-conspirators include lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman, all of whom advised him in the post-election period.
Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and Mr Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have also been indicted.
“Trump and the other defendants charged in this indictment refused to accept that Trump lost,” court documents allege.
“(The) conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity.”
Prosecutors claim the group “constituted a criminal organisation whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities.”
When added together, the maximum sentences for all of the charges against Mr Trump in Georgia total 71-and-a-half years in prison. If the other criminal cases against him are taken into account, he is facing 91 separate counts with maximum sentences totalling 713 years.
In reality, even if found guilty, he would face something far less onerous, though a lengthy jail sentence could still be on the table.
The charges come amid his campaign to regain the presidency in 2024. Mr Trump maintains he did nothing wrong in any of the cases.
Under the US constitution, even a criminal conviction would not bar him from running for the presidency or serving as president.
One of the cases, brought in New York, concerns his alleged payments to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair before the 2016 election.
Another, brought federally in Washington D.C., concerns his alleged efforts to overturn his election defeat to Mr Biden, culminating in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, in which a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed Congress to stop the certification of the result.
And yet another case, brought federally but centred in Florida, concerns Mr Trump’s alleged retention of national security documents after leaving the White House, when he became a private citizen.
Prosecutors allege Mr Trump took sensitive documents, which belonged to the government, not him, and stored them at his residences in Florida and New Jersey. It further alleges that he failed to return the documents when repeatedly asked, showed some of them to people who lacked the necessary security clearances, defied a subpoena, and lied to investigators, falsely claiming he had in fact returned all the relevant material.
An FBI raid of his Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, late last year allegedly uncovered multiple boxes full of such material, including information about US nuclear capabilities.
“The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defence and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; US nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the US and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack,” the indictment against him reads.
“The unauthorised disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the US military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.”
‘We won the state’
The phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Raffensperger, recorded on the Georgian official’s end, became public knowledge in January of 2021, a couple of days before the Capitol riot.
We have won this election in Georgia,” Mr Trump told Mr Raffensperger.
“And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.
“The people of Georgia are angry. The people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that um, you’ve recalculated.”
“Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is that the data you have is wrong,” Mr Raffensperger responded.
Georgia counted its votes three times in the wake of the election, confirming Mr Biden’s victory by a final margin of 11,779. That included a full recount by hand, which found no evidence to support Mr Trump’s claims about widespread voter fraud, nor any of his other conspiracy theories.
Mr Raffensperger and the state’s Republican Governor, Brian Kemp, certified the outcome, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes were officially cast for Mr Biden in mid-December, 2020.
The hour-long phone call included several similar exchanges, with Mr Trump insisting he actually won Georgia easily.
“So look. 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,” the then-president said at one point.
“There’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes,” he insisted multiple times.
“Tell me Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” he said.
“I think you have to say that you’re going to re-examine it, and you can re-examine it. But re-examine it with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”
Mr Trump brought up several of the debunked allegations he had made online since the election, such as the theory that Dominion voting machines rigged the result, or the claim that officials in Democratic-leaning Fulton County destroyed thousands of ballots to cover up fraud.
“Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? Because that is what the rumour is,” he asked Mr Raffensperger’s legal counsel, Ryan Germany.
“And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, um, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.”
“No. Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County,” Mr Germany told him.
“But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?” Mr Trump asked.
“No,” said Mr Germany.
“Are you sure, Ryan?” the President said.
“I’m sure. I’m sure, Mr President,” Mr Germany responded.