Friday, July 19, 2024

Trump Says He Will Surrender Thursday on Fulton County Charges

'The rooms are nasty as f*ck. It smells nasty. It ain’t nowhere anybody wants to be at...'

(Headline USA) Former President Donald Trump says he will surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday to face charges in the case accusing him of illegally scheming to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

“Can you believe it? I’ll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday to be ARRESTED,” Trump wrote on his social media network Monday night, hours after his bond was set at $200,000.

Trump went on to ridicule the excessive bail, pointing out the unlikelihood that he would pose a flight risk for the politically motivated prosecution that many suspect is intended—along with several others—to derail the GOP frontrunner’s 2024 re-election campaign.

The arrest will be Trump’s fourth in as many months. Since April, he has had what has seemed like an endless procession of bookings and arraignments in jurisdictions across the country. His appearances in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C., have drawn enormous media attention, with news helicopters tracking his every move.

Trump’s announcement came hours after his attorneys met with prosecutors in Atlanta to discuss the details of his release on bond.

The former president is barred from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case—including on social media—according to the bond agreement signed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump’s defense attorneys and the judge. It explicitly includes “posts on social media or reposts of posts” made by others.

Trump has been railing against Willis since before he was indicted, and singled out Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp—a NeverTrump Republican who rebuffed his efforts to challenge the disputed 2020 election outcome—by name in a social media post Monday morning.

The agreement also prohibits the former president from making any “direct or indirect threat of any nature” against witnesses or co-defendants, and from communicating in any way about the facts of the case with them, except through attorneys.

The order sets Trump’s bond for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations—or RICO—charge at $80,000, and adds $10,000 for each of the 12 other counts he is facing.

Willis set a deadline of noon Friday for Trump and his 18 co-defendants to turn themselves in to be booked. The prosecutor has proposed that arraignments for the defendants follow during the week of Sept. 5. She has said she wants to try the defendants collectively and bring the case to trial in March of next year, which would put it in the heat of the presidential nominating season.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing. A phone message seeking comment was also left for an attorney for the former president.

Trump’s appearance in Georgia will come a day after the first Republican primary debate, which he has decided to skip.

He is expected to turn himself in at the Fulton County jail, which has long been plagued with problems. The Department of Justice last month opened a civil rights investigation into conditions, citing filthy cells, violence and the death last year of a man whose body was found covered in insects in the main jail’s psychiatric wing. Three people have died in Fulton County custody in the past month.

Peter Strzok, the corrupt former FBI agent who once was tasked with leading a criminal investigation of his own into Trump under false pretenses, gleefully celebrated the perceived shift in circumstances, although Trump and many of his supporters consider the current lawfare attacks to be part of the same continuum of partisan prosecutorial misconduct that began with Strzok’s “Crossfire Hurricane” operation in July 2016.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday afternoon that when Trump surrenders there will be a “hard lockdown” of the area surrounding the jail.

But Trump is not expected to spend much time there.

When defendants arrive at the building, they typically pass through a security checkpoint before checking in for formal booking in the lobby.

During the booking process, defendants are typically photographed and fingerprinted and asked to provide certain personal information. Since Trump’s bond has already been set, he will be released from custody once the booking process is complete.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, in Fulton County, arraignments—where a defendant first appears in court—are generally set after a defendant completes the booking process and do not happen on the same day.

Booking a former president, who still has 24-hour Secret Service protection, has created myriad security and logistical issues in other jurisdictions.

In his past appearances in a New York state court and federal courts in Miami and Washington, Trump was not handcuffed while in custody. He was also not required to pose for a mugshot, with officials instead using existing photographs of the former president.

Georgia officials have said Trump will be treated like others charged with crimes in their state.

“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,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said at a news conference earlier this month.

The mugshot is likely to prove politically useful for Trump, whose support among his Republican base has only been more entrenched with each legal effort to undermine him based on spurious charges that, in two cases, the George Soros-backed district attorneys have themselves campaigned on.

In a post on Monday, Trump called the Fulton County district attorney “crooked, incompetent, & highly partisan.”

Bond was also set Monday for three lawyers who were indicted along with Trump. For each of them, the bond for the RICO charge was set at $20,000, with varying amounts for the other charges they face. John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro each had a bond set at $100,000, while Ray Smith’s bond is $50,000.

Bail bondsman Scott Hall, who was accused of participating in a breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County, had his bond set at $10,000.

Other defendants include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and a Trump administration Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark.

The Georgia indictment came just two weeks after Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump in a separate case alleging a vast right-wing conspiracy to overturn the election. Besides the two election-related cases, Trump faces a federal indictment accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents as well as a New York state case charging him with falsifying business records.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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