The Fourth Indictment of Donald Trump and the Criminalization of Election Controversies – Jonathan Turley 8/15/23


Below is my column in The Messenger on the Georgia indictment. As expected, the indictment is a sweeping racketeering based prosecution involving former president Donald Trump and the 18 other defendants. The scope of the alleged conspiracy is massive.  “The call” is one of those steps but the famous line that has occupied hours of coverage (and led to the investigation) is not the central allegation. Indeed, every call, speech, and tweet appears a criminal step in the conspiracy. District Attorney Fani Willis appears to have elected to charge everything and everyone and let God sort them out.

Oh Georgia, no peace I find (no peace I find).”

Those lyrics made famous by the late, great Ray Charles could have been written for former president Donald Trump this week as he awaits his expected fourth indictment. The long-anticipated indictment by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected in the coming days and will focus on alleged election tampering and related offenses in the 2020 presidential election.

If indictments were treated like frequent flyer miles, Donald Trump would get the Georgia indictment for free. However, it will be anything but costless. Regardless of the merits, it will magnify both the cost and complications for Trump.

Like the New York indictment, a Georgia indictment would not be subject to a presidential pardon. Not only have GOP candidates indicated that they would pardon Trump on any federal charges if elected to the presidency, Trump could pardon himself (including a preemptive pardon before trial) if elected — but that power does not reach state convictions.

As with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, many view Willis as a Democratic prosecutor pursuing the highly unpopular former president. However, given the three grand juries and the three years that have passed, Willis may have found new evidence or witnesses that could tie Trump to criminal conduct in seeking to challenge the results in the election….

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