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Trump, advisers charged in Georgia for 2020 election overthrow scheme

Former US President Donald Trump was hit with a sweeping fourth set of criminal charges on Monday when a Georgia grand jury issued an indictment accusing him of efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The charges, brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, add to the legal woes facing Trump, the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election.

The sprawling 98-page indictment listed 19 defendants and 41criminal counts in all. All of the defendants were charged with racketeering, which is used to target members of organized crime groups and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Among the other defendants were Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.

“Trump and the other defendants charged in this indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” the indictment said.

Lawyers for those named either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case stems from a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump urged Georgia’s top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger declined to do so.

Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol four days later in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory.

The indictment cites a number of crimes that Trump or hi sassociates allegedly committed, including falsely testifying to lawmakers that election fraud had occurred and urging state officials to violate their oaths of office by altering the election results.

Prosecutors also cited the breach of a voting system in a rural Georgia county and the harassment of an election worker who became the focus of conspiracy theories. It also mentions an alleged scheme to subvert the US electoral process by submitting false slates of electors, people who make up the Electoral College that elects the president and vice president.

The indictment reaches across state lines, saying that Trump advisers, including Giuliani and Meadows, advanced the conspiracy by calling officials in Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere seeking to change the outcome in those states.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and accuses Willis, an elected Democrat, of being politically motivated. Trump has already pleaded not guilty in three criminal cases.

He faces a New York state trial beginning on March 25, 2024,involving a hush money payment to a porn star, and a Florida trial beginning on May 20 in a federal classified documents case. In both cases Trump pleaded not guilty.

A third indictment, in Washington federal court, accuses him of illegally seeking to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Trump denies wrongdoing in this case as well, and a trial date has yet to be set.

Georgia, once reliably Republican, has emerged as one of a handful of politically competitive states that can determine the outcome of presidential elections. Trump persists in falsely claiming he won the November 2020election although dozens of court cases and state probes have found no evidence to support his claim.

Source: Reuters

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