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Donald Trump surrenders in Georgia on charges he sought to overturn 2020 election

Trump since March, and his booking included a mugshot

Donald Trump surrendered at the Fulton county jail on Thursday evening on racketeering and conspiracy charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia, where he was processed as any criminal defendant and had his mugshot taken.

People watch Carlson interview of Trump on the platform 'X'<br>epa10816803 A viewer streams former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's interview by Tucker Carlson on the platform 'X' on their computer in Miami, Florida, USA, 23 August 2024. Trump chose not to attend the debate and instead do the interview with Carlson. The pre-recorded interview is being aired at the same time as the Republican presidential debate. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

The former president’s brief booking marks yet another stunning moment in which the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 race was again under arrest in a major criminal case.

The booking came during the prime-time viewing hours for the cable news networks, a time slot that Trump is said to have insisted his lawyers negotiate with prosecutors in an apparent effort to discredit the charges and distract from the indignity of the surrender.

But Trump turned himself over to authorities without the special privileges afforded to him in his other criminal cases. In addition to the mugshot that he had desperately sought to avoid – the first ever taken of a former US president – Trump had his fingerprints taken and had his weight recorded as 215lbs (97.5kg), according to online records.

Trump faced his fourth indictment since leaving office when he was charged in a 41-count indictment by the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, last week, that described Trump and 18 allies as having engaged in a criminal enterprise to reverse his 2020 election defeat.

In a clear sign of Willis’s belief that her team is ready to go to trial immediately, she asked for the trial of all 19 defendants to start on 23 October after one of the co-defendants, Trump’s former lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, apparently gambled and requested a speedy trial.

Trump’s legal team filed a motion opposing such a quick trial date within hours, underscoring Trump’s overarching strategy to delay proceedings as much as possible – potentially until after the 2024 presidential election – and indicating the diverging interests of the people ensnared in the indictment.

The bond for Trump was agreed at $200,000, the highest amount of any of his co-defendants, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who turned himself in for booking a day earlier after his bond was set at $150,000 after being charged with principally the same counts.

Trump used a local commercial bondsman, Charles Shaw of Foster Bail Bonds, to post the $200,000 bond. He was released after about 20 minutes in jail on conditions that include stringent witness intimidation restrictions that have not been put in place for his co-defendants, court filings show, until he is due back in state court for arraignment.https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2023/08/archive-zip/giv-134253lBmAvFUypBK/

Trump flew to Atlanta on a private plane from his Bedminster club in New Jersey, where he spends his summers, smiling and waving at cameras as he exited the flight. He then traveled to the Rice Street jail, located north-west of downtown, with a US Secret Service motorcade.

Trump’s co-defendants in the case were also released on bond, except for Harrison Floyd, who was associated with a Black Voices for Trump group and accused of conspiring to commit false statements and illegally influencing a witness. He remained in the jail, a notorious facility known for its dire conditions and frequent deaths.

The booking in Georgia follows a presidential debate featuring his main rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination, a race in which Trump remains the overwhelming frontrunner despite his many legal troubles.

The strategy to turn the surrender into a made-for-television circus has been an effort to discredit the indictments, a person familiar with the matter said, as well as to capitalize on the information void left by prosecutors after the events to foist his own spin on the charges.

To that end, Trump delivered brief remarks to reporters before departing Atlanta. He said the charges were supposedly a “travesty of justice”, saying, “We did nothing wrong at all,” and repeating his false claims that the election was “stolen”. Shortly after the mug shot was released, Trump’s campaign started using the image for fundraising, and he also returned to Twitter, now rebranded as X, for the first time since January 2021 to post the photo, with the message, “NEVER SURRENDER!”

In an interview on the rightwing network Newsmax, Trump said he was “treated very nicely” at the jail, but again disparaged the prosecutors in his cases as “radical left” lawyers, calling them “vicious animals” and “maniacs”.

Ahead of the surrender, Trump shook up his legal team and retained the top Georgia attorney Steven Sadow, who filed a notice of appearance with the Fulton county superior court as lead counsel, replacing Drew Findling. Trump’s other lawyer in the case, Jennifer Little, is staying on.

The reason for the abrupt recalibration was unclear, and Trump’s aides suggested it was unrelated to performance. Still, Trump has a record of firing lawyers who represented him during criminal investigations but were unable to stave off charges.

Findling was also unable to exempt Trump from having his mugshot taken, according to people familiar with the matter – something that personally irritated Trump, even though the Fulton county sheriff’s office had always indicated they were uninterested in making such an accommodation. His mugshot was not taken in his other criminal cases.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The other 18 co-defendants in the 2020 election subversion case appear to be receiving regular treatment based on online jail records for the former Trump election lawyer John Eastman and others, who had their height, weight and personal appearance made public.

The Trump legal team could file a motion to remove the case to federal court before then, under a federal statute that allows for such venue changes if the case involves federal officials’ actions taken “under color” of their office – as in, if it was part of official duties.

Trump could face major difficulties with that argument, however, since he would have to show that taking steps to change the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia amounted to him acting in his official capacity as president, legal experts have said.

Source: The Guardian