Donald Trump surrenders on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election

Former President Donald Trump steps off his plane as he arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. Alex Brandon / AP Photos

Former President Donald Trump surrendered to Fulton County authorities Thursday on charges he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Fulton County authorities charged Trump and 18 others, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former state Republican Party Chair David Shafer, as part of the effort. The Fulton County indictment of Trump is the fourth against the former president and the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump addressed reporters on the tarmac before boarding his aircraft bound for New Jersey. 

“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice,” Trump said. “We did nothing wrong at all. They’re interfering with an election and there’s never been anything like it in our country before.

“And we have every right, every single right to challenge an election that we think is dishonest. So we think it’s very dishonest.”

Even before Trump formally surrendered to authorities at the Atlanta facility, the former president’s attorneys and prosecutors agreed to set a $200,000 bond.

While Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she would like to see the case go to trial within six months, legal experts say that is a tall order.

“The idea that this case would go to trial in six months is optimistic, and I think it’s optimistic, even if you put aside that Donald Trump is facing three other indictments,” Jonathan Entin, a professor emeritus of law and adjunct professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University, told The Center Square.

Additionally, Shafer, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark want the case transferred to federal court.

“The Georgia indictment reflects the Sergeant Joe Friday mantra of ‘just the facts, ma’am’ and could end up being easier to prove than the latest federal indictment against Trump by avoiding trying to directly blame him for the chaos of Jan. 6,” civil rights attorney V. James DeSimone, of Los Angeles-based V. James DeSimone Law, told The Center Square via email.

“The task of prosecuting 19 defendants and proving acts occurring in other states may be a daunting one,” DeSimone added. “But by charging acts in other states, the indictment demonstrates how Trump and the alleged co-conspirators developed a plan to invalidate the popular vote in a sufficient number of states to alter the results of the election.

“Despite its breadth and the naming of numerous co-conspirators, Georgia’s indictment is nevertheless focused on the interference with its state elections, the oath of those in office and the established protocol for the election of the electoral voters.”

Additionally, Entin said it may be challenging to seat a jury in the case, but it won’t be impossible.

“Just because we have one very prominent defendant, the legal system can’t work if we say, ‘well, if you’re a high enough profile person, then you can never be tried, no matter what you do,'” Entin said. “That’s just destructive of the whole idea that we have a rule of law. There’s plenty of room for reasonable minds to differ about whether Donald Trump or any of the other defendants committed any of the crimes with which they’re charged. But that’s separate from saying, ‘Well, you know, some people are too important or too prominent to be subject to the rule of law at all.'”

“So, it may take a lot of work to assemble a jury that is capable of deciding the case on the basis of the evidence and put aside whatever views they bring to the table,” Entin added.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to  Willis demanding all records of communication with the DOJ to determine whether it was “politically motivated.”

“Turning first to the question of motivation, it is noteworthy that just four days before this indictment, you launched a new campaign fundraising website that highlighted your investigation into President Trump,” the letter said.

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.