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Georgia Trump indictment cites scheme to overturn Biden wins in Wisconsin and other states

Nineteen defendants are charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

By Josh Israel - August 16, 2023
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Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event, July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

A Georgia grand jury approved the indictment of former President Donald Trump and others on Aug. 14, alleging that they participated in criminal racketeering in an attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory in the state. To demonstrate the pattern, prosecutors heavily cited efforts by Trump and his supporters in Wisconsin and other states to overturn their election results as well.

“The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told reporters after the 41-count indictment was officially filed with the county’s Superior Court.

“The enterprise operated in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia,

in other states, including, but not limited to, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico,

Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia,” the indictment states. “The enterprise operated for a period of time sufficient to permit its members and associates to pursue its objectives.”

All 19 defendants are charged with violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows prosecutors to go after mobsters and others engaged in patterns of criminal activity. According to the Washington Post, the crimes included in a racketeering scheme investigated under the law can include activities in other states or in Georgia, as long as they are part of the same overall scheme.

Biden won Georgia and its 16 electors by almost 12,000 votes in the 2020 election.

In addition to Trump’s direct attempts to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other election officials to “find 11,780 votes” for him and overturn the result, the defendants allegedly orchestrated an illegal scheme to create and distribute false Electoral College documents to make it look like Georgia’s electors voted for Trump instead of Biden.

The indictment noted that this fit a pattern seen in Wisconsin and other swing states won by Biden:

The false documents were intended to disrupt and delay the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, in order to unlawfully change the outcome of the November 3, 2020, presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Similar schemes were executed by members of the enterprise in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Biden won Wisconsin by just over 20,000 votes. As in Georgia, a pro-Trump slate of electors gathered in Madison anyway. The 10 Wisconsin Republicans signed documents falsely claiming Trump was the winner and attempted to cast electoral votes for the defeated incumbent.

Despite the efforts of 147 Republican lawmakers to overturn the election, Congress rejected all of the fraudulent slates and confirmed Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Georgia indictment documents 161 discrete actions taken by Trump and his allies. Seven of those actions explicitly involve Wisconsin.

Six of the documented examples were efforts by Trump’s attorneys and campaign advisers to orchestrate the fake electors scheme in Wisconsin “despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Wisconsin.”

A seventh references a Dec. 8, 2020, phone call in which Trump personally asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr “not to discourage other state attorneys general from joining a federal lawsuit filed by the State of Texas contesting the administration of the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

The 10 Wisconsin fake electors are not themselves charged in the Georgia indictments, but they are facing possible repercussions in their own state. On Aug. 10, a Wisconsin judge refused to dismiss a civil case against them and two Trump attorneys in which they are accused of trying to subvert the will of Wisconsin’s voters.

In the 2022 elections, Republican House candidates across the country took more than $160,000 in campaign contributions from fake electors. Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden accepted at least $100 from Bill Feehan and $500 from Robert Spindell Jr., both of Wisconsin.

Trump has previously been indicted in New York on allegations related to hush money payments to a porn actress; in a Florida federal court on allegations of improper handling of classified documents; and in a Washington, D.C., federal court on allegations of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The indictment in Washington also accuses Trump of participating in a conspiracy to submit fraudulent electoral slates in Georgia, Wisconsin, and five other states.

In an Aug. 15 blog post for MSNBC, former New York City prosecutor Jordan Rubin noted that while Trump might be able to wipe out the federal cases if he regains the presidency in the 2024 elections, the Georgia charges could still pose a problem for him. He noted that presidents do not have the power to grant pardons or clemency for state crimes and that Georgia’s Constitution gives pardon power to a state board.

University of Georgia law professor Ronald Carlson told Insider that current pardon guidelines would make Trump ineligible for quite a while: “Here’s the kicker: President Trump could only apply for a pardon if he were to be convicted only after he served five years in a Georgia penitentiary.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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