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Georgia Indictment: Trump Was Prepping Voter Fraud Claims Long Before Election

Trump knew what he was doing all along.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Donald Trump was indicted on Monday for a fourth time, and the second time for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. But the newest indictment out of Georgia sheds light on how Trump was planning to push claims of voter fraud even before Election Day.

On November 4, 2020, Trump made a nationally televised speech in which he falsely declared victory in the 2020 presidential election. (The results of the election and Biden’s victory were not official until November 7.)

And according to the new indictment from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump had drafted talking points about voter fraud long before Election Day.

On October 31, four days before Trump gave that speech, he apparently discussed a draft speech he planned to give, in which he would falsely declare victory and make false claims of voter fraud. The indictment says that he discussed this speech with an “unindicted co-conspirator.”

In other words, Trump was so determined to hold onto power that he made plans to claim voter fraud before votes were even counted—a conspiracy, if you will. This speech is a damning piece of evidence against Trump, and the indictment calls it “an overt act in the furtherance of conspiracy.”

Much of Trump’s legal defense until now has rested on the argument that the former president did not know he actually lost the election. The indictment out of Fulton County certainly makes it harder to push that line of defense.

The former president and 18 of his top allies have been charged with engaging “in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result.” And if convicted, he won’t be able to pardon himself out of it.

Trump Can’t Pardon Himself Out of the Georgia Indictment

And a Republican governor can’t save him either.

Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Donald Trump won’t be able to easily escape his latest indictment.

Trump was indicted for a historic fourth time late Monday. He and 18 co-defendants were charged with racketeering for trying to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. A date has not been set for Trump’s arraignment, but arrest warrants have been issued for him and the other co-defendants. They have until August 25 at noon to surrender to state authorities.

Shockingly, Trump is still the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. And if he were to win in 2024, he would very likely try to pardon himself for the federal charges against him. He reportedly already considered doing so just before he left office.

But he won’t be able to snap his fingers and make the Georgia charges go away.

In a state case, Trump wouldn’t be able to self-pardon—and when it comes to Georgia, a Republican governor wouldn’t be able to save him either.

Georgia is one of just five states that does not issue pardons through the governor’s office. The state’s constitution dictates that pardons are determined by the Board of Paroles and Pardons. The board’s five members are appointed for seven-year terms by the governor and then confirmed by the state Senate. From then on, they operate as an independent body.

To be eligible for a pardon, a person must have completed a “full sentence obligation” and paid all fines. They must also have been “free of supervision (custodial or non-custodial) and/or criminal involvement” for five consecutive years after completing their sentence and for the five consecutive years before applying for a pardon.

So if Trump is found guilty, it will be at least five years before he can even ask for a pardon. It will be even longer if he is actually forced to serve a prison sentence. Racketeering charges in Georgia carry a minimum sentence of five years in prison and/or a minimum fine of $25,000.

A big part of why Trump is running for president is likely so he can simply stay out of prison. It’s looking like that may no longer be an option.

We Will Finally Get a Trump Mugshot With Georgia Indictment

Here’s what it could look like.

Illustration by Sean McCabe; Getty (x2)

Donald Trump has been indicted for a fourth time in Georgia—this time for helping to lead a “criminal racketeering enterprise” in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

This case is the first indictment where we may get a mugshot of the former president. Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat promised earlier this month that Trump will be treated like anyone else accused of a crime and have his mugshot taken if indicted.

“Unless somebody tells me differently, we are following our normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter your status, we’ll have a mugshot ready for you,” Labat said.

In earlier indictments, Trump simply had his fingerprints taken.

But in Georgia, things are expected to be different. So we decided to imagine what Trump’s mugshot could look like.

Trump, along with his 18 co-defendants, were charged Monday with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, statute that prohibits racketeering. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued that Trump and his co-conspirators “constituted a criminal organization” in their attempts to overthrow the 2020 election.

Georiga’s RICO statute is punishable by between five to 20 years in prison.

Trump and 18 Allies Charged With Racketeering in Most Sweeping Indictment Yet

Donald Trump has been indicted under Georgia’s RICO law for his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election.

Donlad Trump
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Donald Trump was indicted Monday for a whopping fourth time, and the second time for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump and several of his top allies were charged with felony racketeering for their role in efforts to overturn the results of the election in Georgia. The 41-count indictment also goes after Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith, along with several others. Trump himself faces 13 criminal counts.

The former president and his 18 co-defendants were charged with engaging “in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result.”

The charges fall under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act), which was originally used to go after organized crime groups and mobsters. Prison sentences for those found guilty under Georgia’s RICO Act are between five and 20 years.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been steadily working her way closer to Trump for the past two years.

The charges cite Trump’s January 2, 2021 phone call begging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes—the exact amount needed to flip the state’s election results away from Joe Biden. Several of Trump’s co-defendants are also facing charges related to a breach of voting machines in Coffee County, which is a few hours south of Fulton.

A group of pro-Trump people, paid by Powell, accessed voting machines at the county’s election office. They copied sensitive data and uploaded them to a site for election deniers to access and use to try to prove the election had been rigged. Coffee County is not in Fulton’s jurisdiction, but the racketeering charge lets prosecutors point to the data breach as part of a pattern of behavior to corruptly keep Trump in office.

Trump is still—appallingly—the frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, despite the growing mountain of charges against him. The twice-impeached former president has already been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation. He was indicted earlier this month for his role in inciting the January 6 riot, and he has been charged with keeping classified national defense documents without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. Trump also has been charged with business fraud in New York for his alleged role in making hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

And in classic Trump form, he’s not taking any of it well. He has attempted to block the Georgia investigation and get Willis disqualified from court proceedings. Trump also begged for a new sexual abuse trial and to toss E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation lawsuit against him—all to no avail.

Georgia Court Briefly Posts—Then Deletes—List of Charges Against Trump

Indictment four, here we come.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Fulton County Court website on Monday briefly posted—and then deleted—a document listing 39 charges against Donald Trump for his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election in Georgia.

The two-page document, which was first reported by Reuters’s Jack Queen, notes that Trump will be charged under 13 criminal statutes. The charges include racketeering, conspiracy, making false statements, and soliciting public officials to violate their oaths of office.

The document was dated August 14 and specifically named Trump as the defendant. It vanished from the court website after a flurry of media activity.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office noted that Trump has not yet been charged.

“The Reuters report that those charges were filed is inaccurate. Beyond that we cannot comment,” a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said.

Still, the official announcement of Trump’s fourth indictment should be coming soon. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team began presenting evidence to the grand jury on Monday morning.

The document confirms earlier reports that Willis would seek racketeering, or RICO, charges against Trump. Willis will have to show evidence that Trump had created an “enterprise” in his attempt to remain in office.

CNN over the weekend reported that Willis and her team are in possession of text messages and emails “directly connecting members of Donald Trump’s legal team to the early January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County.” Willis could also point to Trump’s phone call that same month to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find 11,780 votes”—the exact amount that Trump needed to win Georgia.

Trump already faces 78 criminal charges from three other indictments.

The former president has not been handling any of this news well. He kicked off his week by trying to intimidate a witness, warning in a Truth Social post on Monday that former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan “shouldn’t” testify before the grand jury.

Even Republicans Are “Alarmed” by Mitch McConnell’s Health

The senator’s health issues are becoming a problem to his own party.

Mitch McConnell
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

It is no secret that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is aging, but now even his Republican colleagues are expressing growing concerns about the senator’s declining health.

Politico reported Monday that several Republican lawmakers have “grown more alarmed” at the 81-year-old senator’s fitness, and his hearing loss in particular.

One attendee of a recent Senate Republican lunch told Politico, “[McConnell] was just sitting there as the conversation went on around him.” Another even suggested to McConnell’s campaign staff that the Senate leader should consider hearing implants.

Hearing loss might explain recent accounts that McConnell has not been participating as much in weekly party meetings, and has appeared to be generally out of it. “I think he is just not processing,” one senator said of McConnell’s behavior last month.

Mitch McConnell’s worsening health had been largely out of view of the American public, until a press conference last month where he fell eerily silent, and had to be escorted away. The senator has declined to explain the incident, and whether or not it was connected to a fall he took in March which resulted in a concussion and weeks-long absence from the Senate.

In private, McConnell’s colleagues have become increasingly concerned, and some have begun planning for his eventual replacement from the Senate.

One senator previously told Politico that “the next leadership election is underway.”

Earlier this month, McConnell attended the annual Fancy Farm picnic, a real who’s-who of Kentucky politicians and McConnell’s first public event since his unnerving press conference appearance.

There, McConnell spoke in a strained voice, and was closely attended to by his wife and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Chao repeatedly had to help McConnell up from his chair, giving the impression that McConnell has not fully recovered from his episode last month.

Even Jonathan Martin, Politico’s senior political columnist, said that McConnell’s worsening health is distressing. “As somebody who’s covered McConnell for years, it’s jarring to see his decline,” Martin wrote.

Republicans Are Pissed That Merrick Garland Did Exactly What They Asked

Republicans called for a special counsel on Hunter Biden. Now that they have one, they’re pretending something nefarious is going on.

Hunter Biden
Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Republicans have been demanding for months that the Department of Justice appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s taxes. And now the department has, the GOP is … throwing a fit.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he has appointed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss as special counsel in the probe. Weiss was already overseeing the investigation and had negotiated a plea deal that Republicans hated. Republicans alleged that the Justice Department impeded Weiss’s investigation into Hunter Biden by refusing to give him special counsel status.

But in response to Garland giving a Trump-appointed attorney independent operating power, Republicans are now arguing that the whole thing is a cover-up.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the special counsel’s appointment an attempt to “whitewash” Biden family corruption.

This is part of the DOJ’s efforts to attempt a Biden family coverup in light of our Committee’s mounting evidence of President Joe Biden’s role in his family’s schemes,” the House Oversight Committee also said in a statement.

Committee Chair James Comerwho has led the charge investigating the Biden family for alleged corruption but has yet to produce any evidence that Joe Biden was involved—was similarly outraged.

Donald Trump’s super PAC MAGA Inc released a statement suggesting it was ridiculous for Garland to expect Americans “to trust Weiss to be the Special Counsel that finally brings Hunter Biden to justice.” Again, Trump appointed Weiss in 2018.

Representative Elise Stefanik, one of Trump’s loudest supporters in Congress, called Weiss’s new status “absolutely unacceptable,” while Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said the Justice Department was untrustworthy.

“I think that this was meant to be a distraction. It’s not a distraction. I think the Bidens are on a sinking ship,” she told Fox News.

In other words, Republicans will never be satisfied. They got what they wanted, and so now they have to move the goalpost.

Merrick Garland Calls Republicans’ Bluff With Hunter Biden Special Counsel

Republicans claimed a special counsel was all that was needed to prove Biden corruption. Well, now there is one.

Hunter Biden
Julia Nikhinson/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he has appointed a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Hunter Biden—but in doing so, he has annihilated several main Republican talking points.

Republicans have accused the Justice Department of dragging its feet on investigating the younger Biden for alleged tax fraud. They insist the department gave Biden a “sweetheart” plea deal and denied special counsel status to Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who oversaw the investigation.

So Garland has responded … by granting special counsel status to Weiss, whom he noted hadn’t even asked about it until this week.

“In a July 2023 letter to Congress, Mr. Weiss said that he had not to that point requested special counsel designation,” Garland told a press conference. “On Tuesday of this week, Mr. Weiss advised me that in his judgment, his investigation had reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel … I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel.”

It may seem like Garland and Weiss are caving to Republican demands, but in reality, they are obliterating them. By making Weiss special counsel, Garland has fully insulated the investigation from accusations of government interference. Garland will now be required to inform Congress if he or the president for some reason were to block the investigation or potential indictments in any way.

Garland and Weiss are also making clear that the latter only just requested special counsel status. Republicans have repeatedly cited testimony from two IRS agents, who insist that Weiss did not have final say on whether charges would be filed. One of the agents, Gary Shapley, also claimed Weiss said he had been blocked from pursuing charges in D.C.—where Hunter supposedly committed his most serious crimes—and that the Justice Department would not grant him special counsel status, which would have let him bring charges outside his jurisdiction.

Weiss has repeatedly smacked down Shapley’s claims, in the July letter Garland referred to and in a previous letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan. Weiss, a Trump appointee, said in the second letter that he would have been granted special counsel status “if it proved necessary.”

Apparently, that status proves necessary now (could it be because people won’t shut up about him not having special counsel status?). Weiss had negotiated Biden’s original plea deal, in which the much-embattled First Son would have pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges of tax evasion and participate in a pretrial program for a gun offense, allowing him to avoid jail time. Republicans, of course, hated that plea deal, and celebrated when it fell apart last month.

But for now, Republicans will have to find another talking point about Justice Department “corruption” stopping any investigation.

WHO Head on Hawaii: This Is the “New Normal.” Actually, “Normal” No Longer Exists.

The extreme weather caused by climate change is upending our understanding of reality.

An aerial image of Lahaina in Western Maui, Hawaii
An aerial image of Lahaina in Western Maui, Hawaii, on August 10

Wildfires in Hawaii have now claimed at least 55 lives. One thousand more are still missing. Blazes leveled large parts of Western Maui, home to the original kingdom of Hawaii and the ancestral land of the Kānaka Maoli.

The drumbeat of climate disasters this summer have had many asking whether heatwaves, fires, and floods are signs of a “new normal” in an overheating world. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, suggested as much in a tweet on Thursday:

The phrase has also been thrown around liberally by politicians and major news outlets, including the The New York Times, looking to describe this summer’s extreme weather.

As experts have routinely pointed out, though, the climate crisis doesn’t promise a new normal so much as the abolition of normal as a means to understand our reality. There are a few things to expect: More people will become acquainted with tragedies they might have thought were confined to certain parts of the world, like when smoke from unprecedented Canadian wildfires blanketed the East Coast. There will be more instances of weather-induced mass death in the news. Climate science doesn’t broadcast a list of coming attractions so much as it coheres more and more data as reality unfolds, offering slightly more useful pictures of what might come next.

Many of the horrors climate change will fuel over the coming decades are the result of emissions unleashed before many of us were born; the payoff for climate actions taken now might not be realized until after we’re dead. For those feeling helpless in the face of climate-fueled tragedies, weary of the mismatch between the difficulty of emissions reductions and the destruction happening around us, there are some more proximate changes to work toward too.

Deep decarbonizarion is essential. Climate change consistently hits the poorest and (typically) least white corners of society hardest. The climate anxious among us—especially those with the capacity to donate and organize—might do well to push for more affordable housing and awarding tenants more power, while also taxing real estate magnates who make homes unaffordable and displace people. Building an economy that’s more welcoming to residents than tourists is every bit as essential to navigating the twenty-first century as cutting carbon.

There is no normal when it comes to climate change, but plenty of norms dictating governments’ response to it that can be upended.

“Disgusting”: Democratic Lawmakers Call on Corrupt Clarence Thomas to Resign

The Supreme Court justice is facing growing calls for his resignation, as reports of his “corrupt as hell” lifestyle pile up.

Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers are calling for Justice Clarence Thomas to resign, after it was revealed that he has accepted gifts from billionaires for decades in exchange for access to the Supreme Court.

A new ProPublica report found that Thomas has happily accepted—and did not disclose—at least 38 luxury vacations from four different billionaires: Harlan Crow, David Sokol, H. Wayne Huizenga, and Paul Novelly. In return, Thomas hosts an annual fundraiser at the Supreme Court for an exclusive society to which they all belong. Experts have called Thomas’s behavior an “abuse of office” and “the height of hypocrisy.”

Representative Ted Lieu said Thomas “has brought shame upon himself and the United States Supreme Court” and should resign “immediately.” Pramila Jayapal also said Thomas should resign, calling his actions “disgusting.”

Bill Pascrell Jr. called Thomas “corrupt as hell,” and Gerry Connolly said Thomas has “repeatedly brought dishonor and ethical malpractice to our highest Court.” Robert Garcia and Hank Johnson also called for Thomas to resign.

They join nine other Democratic representatives and two Democratic senators who have been calling for Thomas to either step down or be impeached. Representatives Alma Adams, Don Beyer, Cori Bush, Chuy Garcia, Ro Khanna, Summer Lee, Ilhan Omar, and Nydia Velazquez, as well as Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey began clamoring for Thomas to leave the court after the news of his relationship with Crow first broke in the April.

Johnson and Pascrell also called for Thomas’s resignation at the time. So did Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she had already been demanding Thomas resign for more than a year by then, according to The New Republic’s Pablo Manríquez.

Some of the gifts Thomas has accepted from his billionaire friends include a trip on Sokol’s private jet to his private ranch in Wyoming (valued in the low eight figures), a deep-sea fishing trip in the Caribbean on one of Novelly’s yachts, and a standing invitation to Huizenga’s members-only golf club. Huizenga sold the club in 2010, and it currently has a $150,000 initiation fee.

Thomas was already under fire for failing to report the many gifts he received from Crow, which include island-hopping yacht vacations and tuition for Thomas’s nephew. The Nazi memorabilia collector Crow also bought and renovated a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.