Georgia prosecutors add a fourth criminal case to Trump’s legal woes. Wisconsin’s fake electors are mentioned.
It’s an old joke—the one about needing a scorecard to tell you about the different players on the field—but the necessity exists for a way to track the growing number of criminal indictments against former President Donald Trump.
The indictment filed late Monday in Georgia means the 45th president faces potential legal consequences in both federal and state courts over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election (and sparking an insurrection at the US Capitol). There are several mentions of Wisconsin in the Georgia charges as prosecutors outline a pattern of behavior that constitutes a criminal racketeering operation, based in part on the creation of slates of fake electors in multiple states.
On top of the two election-related cases, Trump also faces a federal trial on charges of illegally taking and mishandling classified military and nuclear documents after leaving the White House . And the state of New York has indicted Trump on charges of falsifying business records related to hush money payments made to a porn star in order to cover up an alleged extramarital affair.
RELATED: Trump Is Arraigned on Felony Charges of Trying to Steal the 2020 Election—with Help from Several Wisconsin Supporters
Here’s what we know about each case and what’s supposed to happen next.
Trying to Overturn Georgia’s Election Results
Even after two recounts confirmed that President Joe Biden was the winner of Georgia’s popular vote (and therefore electoral votes), Trump tried to pressure state election officials to change the results—as captured in the recording of a phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger—citing false accusations of voter fraud.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis presented a case to a grand jury, which on Monday approved criminal charges against Trump and 18 other people, many of them working as aides, advisors, or attorneys to Trump. They are accused of setting up a “criminal enterprise” to subvert the 2020 election results, violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering laws in the process.
The indictment says the “criminal organization” operated in Wisconsin, Georgia, five other states, and the District of Columbia and references the creation of slates of fake electors who signed fraudulent documents falsely claiming Trump won their state’s electoral votes.
Some of the fake electors said they were led to believe the action was simply a legal contingency, but Trump and his advisors later took steps to have the documents presented to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 as a way to disrupt the counting of actual electoral votes. The conspiracy to create a false slate of Wisconsin electors is listed in the Georgia indictment as Act 39 among 161 separate “acts of racketeering activity and overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
There is also a Wisconsin reference in Act 64, which highlights how Wisconsin attorney Kenneth Chesebro met with then-state Republican Party chair Brian Schimming to discuss an upcoming fake electors meeting. They were joined by telephone by Trump attorney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said the media should not be notified about the gathering of fake electors in the Wisconsin state Capitol, held the same day the actual Biden electors met in the governor’s office.
Status: Trump and the others have until 12 p.m. on August 25 to arrange surrender and booking at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta, where he will be arraigned and enter a plea.
Trying to Overturn the 2020 Election
The case filed by special counsel Jack Smith cuts to the heart of American democracy, charging Trump with taking actions designed to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and seize control of the US government through a conspiracy to defraud the United States. Trump has pleaded not guilty to four federal charges related to the conspiracy, which involved setting up slates of fake electors in states including Wisconsin, urging state officials to take actions to overturn results, and pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results during a ceremonial joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
RELATED: Texts Show How Ron Johnson Could Have Been a Mule to Deliver Fraudulent Electoral Votes to the Jan. 6 Session of Congress
Status: US District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a protective order on August 11 that places restrictions on how Trump can disclose evidence. Chutkan said that while Trump has a right to free speech, the right is “not absolute,” especially on matters needed to protect witnesses and prevent jury tampering.
Smith has made a request to have a jury trial begin on January 2, 2024.
Taking and Mishandling Classified Documents
Trump faces federal charges over his taking and reckless handling of classified documents after he was no longer president and no longer authorized to possess those papers. Special counsel Jack Smith and federal prosecutors have filed 40 criminal counts against Trump for illegally retaining national defense information, deceiving investigators, and showing possession of documents to others even as he acknowledged he could no longer declassify their contents. Trump has pleaded not guilty.
Two co-defendants are charged with helping Trump try to hide documents from law enforcement and delete security video that would show boxes of documents being moved around his Mar-a-Lago compound. The case is being handled by US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee already facing heavy criticism for past actions seen as highly favorable to the former president.
Status: Cannon has scheduled a trial for late May 2024. Because of the sensitive nature of what’s in the documents, it’s quite likely there will be multiple motions and hearings that delay the case as the defense and prosecutors debate what can and cannot be discussed in open court.
Falsifying Business Records About Hush Money
Trump’s arraignment in this case made history—marking the first time a former US president was escorted into a courtroom and charged with crimes. Trump faces 34 state felony counts of falsifying business records related to payments made to actress Stormy Daniels in order to buy her silence in the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the affair.
Status: The judge handling the case set a trial date for March 2024 and also warned Trump in May he could be found in contempt if he makes public any of the evidence being provided to his lawyers.
On Trial While on the Campaign Trail
Trump continues to rail against all of the charges through his social media account on Truth Social, including publishing some posts that could be perceived as being threatening toward prosecutors, judges, witnesses, and even his former vice president. Trump is claiming his First Amendment rights are being violated, especially as a leading candidate for president. Prosecutors and judges say Trump will have to abide by reasonable restrictions that balance political speech with serious criminal proceedings.
“The fact that he is running a political campaign currently has to yield to the administration of justice,” Judge Chutkan said. “And if that means he can’t say exactly what he wants to say in a political speech, that is just how it’s going to have to be.”
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