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Trump leverages Georgia arrest to amplify White House campaign

After announcing a Thursday surrender, he posted on social media, did an interview and let drama build throughout the day

A supporter of former President Donald Trump wears a shirt proclaiming his innocence Thursday while waiting for him to arrive outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
A supporter of former President Donald Trump wears a shirt proclaiming his innocence Thursday while waiting for him to arrive outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. (Christian Monterrosa/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump surrendered to Georgia state authorities Thursday in a criminal case against him, a historic moment the former president and his allies sought to leverage to boost his 2024 White House run.

The former president and his allies have framed the latest charges — Thursday marked Trump’s fourth arraignment in five months — as partisan attacks and criticized the prosecutors bringing them.

Trump journeyed to Atlanta from New Jersey during prime time Thursday, amid a flurry of fundraising pitches, and was booked in the Fulton County jail.

“These are my last words to you before my sham arrest: I WILL NEVER SURRENDER OUR MISSION TO SAVE AMERICA,” a Trump fundraising email stated. “Please make a contribution to peacefully defend our movement as the Deep State tries to JAIL me for life as an innocent man all because I put AMERICA first.”

Dozens of reporters camped outside the courthouse throughout the day, as did dozens of supporters of the former president protesting the prosecution.

Trump was the latest of 19 co-defendants to be booked. He faces 13 criminal counts, including racketeering, and will be released on a $200,000 bond per an agreement with prosecutors. The mug shots have been posted on social media as they are made public.

Trump had posted on his social media site Wednesday that he had fought for election integrity and would “proudly be arrested” in Georgia, where a grand jury indicted him and 18 others on charges connected to an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in the state.

And Trump echoed Republican rhetoric about crime in cities run by liberals, posting that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta “is overseeing one of the greatest Murder and Violent Crime DISASTERS in American History.”

In an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night, Trump attacked the “horrible” Willis, decried the prosecutions against him and rolled in grievances about the “savage animals” in the Democratic Party that have become core to his presidential campaign.

“These people are sick people. These are people that hate our country, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said.

Other defenses

On Thursday, Trump amplified on Truth Social a news report about a letter House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent that day to Willis as part of a congressional oversight investigation into the case.

Jordan, one of Trump’s most prominent defenders in Congress, raised concerns about federal funding that Willis’ office receives and whether she used her post to coordinate with Justice Department officials who investigated Trump.

“Your indictment and prosecution implicate substantial federal interests, and the circumstances surrounding your actions raise serious concerns about whether they are politically motivated,” Jordan’s letter said.

Jordan raised similar concerns about the New York state case against Trump earlier this year and pitched possible legislation to “insulate” the former president from state criminal prosecutions.

Jordan’s letter demanded all communications about using federal funds in the probe, any communications Willis’ office may have had with Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith, who supervises the federal cases against Trump, and any communication Willis had with the Biden administration.

Willis unveiled the 41-count indictment last week, alleging Trump masterminded a broad conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump and others allegedly pressured state officials to stop counting or change the votes, attempted to enlist the Justice Department to issue false statements about election fraud and eventually plotted to delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

Other defendants

Willis has vowed to bring the case to trial within six months and argued as much in a filing Thursday. A judge agreed to her proposal to set a trial for Oct. 23 only for co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro, who requested a speedy trial.

Trump’s attorney opposed that date in a filing Thursday and asked for a separate trial from Chesebro or any other defendant who sought a quick trial.

Two of Trump’s co-defendants — Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff and member of Congress, and Jeffrey Bossert Clark, who served as an assistant attorney general under Trump — both unsuccessfully fought to delay their arrests in Georgia federal court this week.

Meadows argued that federal law prevented him from being charged for actions he took while in a federal post.

“The conduct giving rise to the charges in the indictment all occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff,” Meadows’ attorneys argued.

Willis pushed back in her own filing that Meadows “failed to make any showing his prosecution was instituted in bad faith or founded on unconstitutional laws.”

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones denied their requests in a ruling Wednesday but set a hearing Monday on Meadows’ effort.

On Thursday, Meadows filed papers indicating that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others had been sent subpoenas for the hearing.

Court filings in Georgia indicated that Meadows surrendered Thursday and agreed to a $100,000 bond in the case. Several other defendants in the case, including attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, surrendered in Georgia court earlier this week.

The Georgia arrest is the latest in a series of escalating legal battles Trump faces. His attorneys will face a Washington federal judge Monday in a hearing over the federal charges related to an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. There, Trump’s attorneys will attempt to justify their request for a trial in 2026 for the former president.

Trump also faces a May 2024 trial in Florida over federal charges that he kept secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago club after the end of his presidency and a March 2024 trial over New York state allegations that he falsified business records connected to his 2016 run for president.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and sought to use them to boost his reelection prospects.

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