Georgia indictment’s strongest defense does not involve Trump

Georgia indictment's strongest defense

If the evidence weren’t so strong, the 13 counts of criminal accusations brought against the former president in Georgia could seem more of the same. As it stands, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis’ (D) prosecution is a wise and necessary course of action.

The federal case brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, which is also concerned with what will happen after the 2020 election, is not as comprehensive as the 98-page indictment. It casts a wider light on the alleged wrongdoing of Mr. Trump and his allies: Under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a total of 41 charges brought against 19 defendants cover the breadth of attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the presidential election results.

Because of the way the state’s RICO statute operates, the case can now be brought against actions that took place outside of Georgia, such as Mr. Trump’s supporters’ attempts to convince Vice President Mike Pence to reject valid slates of electors. But the plan’s central element is the state’s own borders, where a particularly virulent assault on democracy took place.
These attacks include the gathering of a fictitious slate of electors, as was done in six other states. This tactic appears to have been devised not just to protect the campaign’s legal options but also to get everything ready for the big reveal on January 6, 2021, when the election results will be certified in the U.S. Capitol. These conversations include the now-famous one in which Mr. Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenberger (R) to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to flip the state’s electors in his favor. Amy Gardner of The Post broke the story about the leak in a recording of that call, which sparked Ms. Willis’s investigation. The indictment’s evidence includes calls to other officials as well as allegations of intimidation and harassment of election workers.

Charges of disseminating false information, which include at least a dozen of Mr. Trump’s tweets, among other things, have caused some controversy. Critics claim they run the process of restricting free expression, despite Georgia’s broad legal ban on false claims “in any matter within the jurisdiction… of state government.”

However, the case’s main focus is on the defendants’ deeds rather than their words. The indictment’s evidence reveals a business that actively sought to undermine democracy from every possible angle. The alleged election equipment breach in rural Coffee County, where electronic ballot markers and tabulation devices were tampered with as part of a “examination” arranged in part by pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, stands out among the charges the most.
There is reason to be concerned about the possibility of too many indictments in too many states (there were allegedly seven states where attempts were made to rig the election). But if the evidence calls for it, Ms. Willis is fully within her rights—and it’s even her duty—to file charges. In this instance, they unmistakably do.

A regionally focused case has another crucial advantage. The main defendant, the former president himself, is singled out in the federal indictment for a specific charge. Given the political climate, that decision is appropriate. However, by enlarging its scope, the Georgia indictment includes individuals besides Mr. Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and former White House aide Mark Meadows, as well as other insiders such attorneys John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro, as well as former Justice Department employee Jeffrey Clark. It also includes the deeds of dishonest state residents and complicit Georgia officials.

The fact that these names aren’t well-known is the point. Under the federalist form of this country, it would take a vast network of conspirators to overturn an election (or even come close to doing so). This network would likely extend across states as well as within them. Not just Mr. Pence rejected Mr. Trump’s tyrannical overtures in 2020. Mr. Raffensperger did as well, as did election authorities in other parts of the nation. They understood that it was their responsibility to defend this country’s democratic institutions. Those who didn’t should answer for their actions.

The strongest justification for Ms. Willis’s charge ultimately has less to do with Mr. Trump and more to do with these less well-known figures. They, along with others like them, may have to make a similar decision in 2024, and they have now been warned that taking away the right of voters to vote has repercussions. In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Raffensperger stated it perfectly. Accountability, respect for the Constitution, and the rule of law are the cornerstones of a strong democracy, he said. “Either you possess it or you do not.” We discovered how much such principles depend on the assumption that individuals responsible with safeguarding them can be trusted to act honorably in the harsh wake of the 2020 election.

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