Trump arrested in Georgia extortion case

Former US President Donald Trump was arrested Thursday in a Georgia jail on racketeering and conspiracy charges in an attempt to overturn the southern state’s 2020 election results.

During a brief session lasting less than 30 minutes, Trump, 77, was charged with 13 counts at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, according to filings released by the sheriff’s office.

Trump’s height was listed by the prison as 1.9 meters (6 ft 3 in), his weight as 97 kilograms (215 lbs), and his hair color as “blonde or strawberry.”

A mug shot was taken of other suspects in the racketeering case who had surrendered to Georgian authorities in recent days.

The billionaire has faced four criminal charges since April, setting the stage for a year of unprecedented drama as he tries to juggle multiple court dates and another White House campaign.

Shortly before leaving his golf club in New Jersey to fly to Atlanta, Trump said in posts on his Truth Social platform that he was being arrested for “having the audacity to contest a FIXED ELECTION (sic)”.

“This is another SAD DAY IN AMERICA!” he added.

Trump avoided being mugged in his previous arrests this year: in New York for paying hush money to a porn star, in Florida for mishandling top-secret government documents, and in Washington for conspiring to turn his 2020 upside down to face election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.

However, Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said that standard procedure in Georgia is to take a picture of a suspect before he is released on bail – which in Trump’s case is set at $200,000.

The arrest comes a day after Trump turned down a televised debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attended by eight of his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — all of whom trailed him significantly in the polls.

He stole the limelight, however, as all but two candidates said they would support him as the party’s candidate even if he were a convicted felon.

During a taped interview with former Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson, which aired to coincide with the social media debate, Trump dismissed the criminal cases filed against him as “nonsense.”

Trump said the Justice Department was “armed” under Biden to obstruct his bid for the White House.

court hearings during the election campaign

A tight security perimeter was put in place for Trump’s booking at the Fulton County jail, which is under investigation for a string of inmate deaths and deplorable prison conditions.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney who filed the full-scale racketeering case, had given Trump and the other 18 defendants until 12:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. GMT) on Friday to surrender.

Trump and eleven others have so far turned themselves in.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows surrendered Thursday and was released on $100,000 bail.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump’s personal attorney during his time in the White House and vigorously spread false claims that Trump won the 2020 election, was charged and released Wednesday.

John Eastman, a conservative attorney accused of plotting to submit a false list of Trump voters to Congress from Georgia instead of legitimate Biden voters, was also charged and released.

A few dozen supporters of the former Republican president gathered outside the jail, including Sharon Anderson, who spent the night in her car.

“I think this is a political prosecution and now it has become a political prosecution,” Anderson told AFP.

Trump is the first US President in history to face criminal charges.

His various trials, if held next year, could coincide with the Republican presidential election, which begins in January, and the campaign for the November 2024 White House election.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has proposed a January 2024 trial for Trump. Trump is accused of overturning the last election through a campaign of lies that culminated in his supporters attacking the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Trump’s attorneys countered with a proposed start date well after the election — April 2026.

Willis, the Georgia District Attorney, originally suggested that the racketeering trial should begin in March next year, the same month Trump is due to go on trial in New York for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.

After one of the defendants called for a speedy trial on Thursday, she suggested that trial for all 19 should begin in October this year, prompting immediate opposition from Trump’s attorneys.

The Florida case accusing Trump of taking secret government documents when he left the White House and refusing to return them is set to begin in May.