Our live coverage has moved. Follow today's live updates on on the indictment in Georgia election probe and read through Monday's updates below.
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.
The grave political crisis created by Trump’s aberrant presidency and subsequent efforts to hold him to account deepened significantly just before midnight with the unsealing of yet another indictment against him – this one from a grand jury in the critical swing state of Georgia.
The charges in this state case – which bring to 91 the total number of criminal charges he’s facing across four separate cases – intensified an already epochal collision between Trump’s now extreme legal quagmire and the 2024 election in which he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination.
Read the full analysis here:
Donald Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani on Monday claimed Georgia's indictment against him and the ex-President were "an affront to American democracy."
Giuliani is charged with 13 counts in the 2020 election subversion case, more than any other defendant other than Trump.
"This is an affront to American Democracy and does permanent, irrevocable harm to our justice system. It's just the next chapter in a book of lies with the purpose of framing President Donald Trump and anyone willing to take on the ruling regime," Giuliani claimed in a statement.
"The real criminals here are the people who have brought this case forward both directly and indirectly," he added.
Giuliani is charged with a RICO violation — the racketeering conspiracy that formed the basis of the indictment — and several additional felonies, including soliciting Georgia state lawmakers, making false statements to the Georgia House and Senate and the effort to put forward fake electors in Georgia.
Remember: This indictment is the fourth case filed against Trump this year. The former president, who is the current GOP 2024 frontrunner, denies any wrongdoing. In an interview with Fox News Digital late Monday, Trump claimed the charges filed against him in Georgia were "politically inspired."
Former President Donald Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News Digital late Monday that the charges filed against him in Georgia are "politically inspired."
Georgia prosecutors say Trump and 18 others including his lawyers, John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, as well as former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows "joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome" of the 2020 election.
"This politically-inspired indictment, which could have been brought close to three years ago, was tailored for placement right smack in the middle of my political campaign," Trump told Fox News Digital, echoing an earlier statement Monday from the Trump campaign.
Trump said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis "should focus on the people that rigged the 2020 presidential election, not those who demand an answer as to what happened."
"Just like she has allowed Atlanta to go to hell with all of its crime and violence, so too has Joe Biden allowed the United States of America to go to the same place with millions of people invading our country, inflation, bad economy, no energy, and lack of respect all over the world," Trump told Fox News Digital.
This is the fourth indictment Trump is facing. The former president, who is the current GOP 2024 frontrunner, has already been charged in three separate cases this year. He denies any wrongdoing in all the cases and says they are politically motivated.
Donald Trump for the second time this month has been indicted on charges related to 2020 election subversion, this time in the state of Georgia — a stunning fourth time this year that the former president has faced criminal charges.
But could the former president, who remains the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, assume the Oval Office again if convicted of the alleged crimes? In short, yes.
University of California, Los Angeles law professor Richard L. Hasen — one of the country’s leading experts on election law — said Trump still has a path to the presidency should he win reelection in 2024.
“The Constitution has very few requirements to serve as President, such as being at least 35 years of age. It does not bar anyone indicted, or convicted, or even serving jail time, from running as president and winning the presidency,” he said in an email to CNN earlier this month.
Legal experts have pointed to the 14th Amendment as a way to keep Trump from holding office if he is convicted, which includes a “disqualification clause” that bars anyone from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
“There’s a big open debate over whether that element of the 14th Amendment is self-executing, and then open to judicial enforcement or whether Congress would need to pass legislation to enforce that provision. And that’s a debate that the legal academies are currently having now, we have no answer for that,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor of law at Georgia State University.
“But to the extent that there might be a conviction in Georgia or in Washington, DC, for these election-related crimes,” Kreis said, “I think that that’s another big open question about how these charges might relate to [Trump’s] ability and his eligibility to hold the office of the presidency.”
The indictment charges former President Donald Trump with “unlawfully soliciting” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to violate his oath of office during their now-infamous January 2, 2021, call in which Trump asked Raffensperger to help him flip Georgia’s results in the 2020 election.
“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” Trump said to Raffensperger during the call.
Trump and his then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows – who was also on the call and charged in the indictment – are accused of unlawfully soliciting, requesting and importuning Raffensperger in his capacity as a public officer, according to the indictment.
Trump is also charged with knowingly making false statements to Raffensperger during that call.
The indictment lists 13 false statements Trump “knowingly, willfully and unlawfully” made on the January 2 call, including “that close to 5,000 dead people voted in the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia.”
The indictment echoes an accusation made by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith in his earlier federal indictment of Trump, in which Smith's office claimed Trump lied to Raffensperger during the call while trying to enlist the official's support.
The indictment also cites a letter Trump wrote to Raffensperger months after leaving office, dated September 17, 2021 -- in which Trump asked him to de-certify the 2020 election results -- as another example of a knowingly-false statement Trump made to Georgia’s chief election officer.
Raffensperger testified before the special grand jury in Fulton County in June 2022.
Former President Donald Trump has been charged with 91 crimes in four criminal cases, in four different jurisdictions.
The new indictment returned Monday by the Fulton County grand jury accuses Trump of 13 crimes.
The Atlanta-based prosecution is one of four criminal cases Trump is facing – two federal, and two state cases.
In the New York case brought by Manhattan prosecutors, Trump has been charged with 34 counts stemming from the alleged 2016 campaign hush money scheme.
Trump faces 40 charges in special counsel Jack Smith’s Mar-a-Lago documents case, after a superseding indictment was unveiled last month.
Smith’s separate federal election subversion case against Trump levied four criminal charges against the former president.
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
Fulton County prosecutors have built a key element of their racketeering conspiracy case on several defendants' alleged efforts to “intimidate’ and “harass” Ruby Freeman, the former Georgia election worker whose emotional congressional testimony formed the basis of one of the House January 6 investigating committee’s most memorable hearings last summer.
Several defendants charged in the indictment’s RICO conspiracy count “falsely accused Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman of committing election crimes in Fulton County, Georgia,” the indictment reads.
“These false accusations were repeated to Georgia legislators and other Georgia ofﬁcials in an effort to persuade them to unlawfully change the outcome of the November 3, 2020, presidential election in favor of Donald Trump,” the indictment read.
“In furtherance of this scheme, members of the enterprise traveled from out of state to harass Freeman, intimidate her, and solicit her to falsely confess to election crimes that she did not commit.”
Additionally, one of the false statement charges brought against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani stems from his December 2020 statement that Freeman, her daughter, fellow election worker Shaye Moss and another individual were “surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine” while at a Georgia election site.
Moss testified to US lawmakers last summer that she was not being passed a USB drive, but rather her mother was passing her a ginger mint.
Reactions from Democratic and Republican lawmakers have rolled in since former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants were indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday.
Here's what some of the top lawmakers have had to say:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both Democrats, said in a joint statement that the indictment "portrays a repeated pattern of criminal activity."
"This latest indictment details how Mr. Trump led a months-long plot pushing the Big Lie to steal an election, undermine our democracy, and overturn the will of the people of Georgia.
The actions taken by the Fulton County District Attorney, along with other state and federal prosecutors, reaffirms the shared belief that in America no one, not even the president, is above the law," the Democrats' statement said.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said President Joe Biden has "weaponized government” against Trump.
“Justice should be blind, but Biden has weaponized government against his leading political opponent to interfere in the 2024 election. Now a radical DA in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham,” McCarthy tweeted.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan — the House Judiciary Committee chairman and a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill — defended Trump in a tweet Monday night.
Today’s indictment is just the latest political attack in the Democrats’ WITCH HUNT against President Trump. He did nothing wrong!," Jordan tweeted.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik slammed the indictment moments after it was unsealed.
"This is another rogue Far Left radical District Attorney weaponizing their office to target Joe Biden’s top political opponent President Trump," Stefanik said. "This blatant election interference by the Far Left will not work, President Trump will defeat these bogus charges and win back the White House in 2024."
CNN's Lauren Fox, Alayna Treene and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.