Donald Trump could face racketeering charges in Georgia case: Prosecutors in Georgia could use the state’s RICO statutes for charges in former President Trump’s case
Donald Trump Getting Charged on Racketeering?
One of the multiple open legal investigations against former President Donald Trump is the one in Georgia, where the ex-president is being investigated for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state of Georgia.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that the probe has broadened to include Trump’s similar activities in other states – and could even lead to charges under Georgia’s racketeering laws.
At issue are two reports, commissioned by the Trump campaign, to find voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere, from a pair of firms called Simpatico Software Systems and Berkeley Research Group. When both reports found no such fraud, the campaign buried them.
One of the firms was reportedly paid $600,000 for their work, with the total expenditure adding up to over $1 million, the newspaper said.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, per the Post report, has been looking into the Trump campaign’s hiring of those firms, with a subpoena going to at least one of them.
While the investigation has mostly focused on Trump’s phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials, the investigation appears to have expanded.
Such an investigation is possible due to Georgia’s unique RICO statute, which Willis has used in such past cases as those of rappers Gunna and Young Thug, and a cheating scandal in the Atlanta public school system.
“The reason that I am a fan of RICO is I think jurors are very, very intelligent,” Willis said last year, as in the Young Thug case, as cited by Vox. “They want to know what happened. They want to make an accurate decision about someone’s life. And so RICO is a tool that allows a prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to tell the whole story.”
“Georgia’s RICO statute is basically two specified criminal acts that have to be part of a pattern of behavior done with the same intent or to achieve a common result or that have distinguishing characteristics,” John Malcolm, a prosecutor who now works for the Heritage Foundation, told the Post. “That’s it. It’s very broad. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to charge a former president, but that also doesn’t mean she can’t do it or won’t do it.”
Vox analyzed how a racketeering case could come together.
“Georgia’s RICO laws require only two incidents of racketeering behavior to justify an indictment and define a wide variety of activities, including illegally distilling liquor and prostitution, as racketeering,” the analysis said. “In the Trump case, it’s likely that Trump’s and his campaign’s false statements to Georgia officials constitute racketeering activity to further the scheme of overturning the 2020 election results; information from other states can be used because the intended outcome of all the campaign’s efforts to overturn the election was to do so in other states and nationally, in addition to Georgia.”
The hard part, both analyses said, will be convincing a jury.
At the same time as the Georgia case, Trump is facing other significant legal jeopardy, most notably in the federal case involving his handling of classified documents. The grand jury, in that case, is scheduled to reconvene later this week, according to media reports over the weekend.
According to NBC News, “Prosecutors face two central legal questions: 1) Did Trump wrongfully retain classified documents after he left the White House? 2) Did he later obstruct the government’s efforts to retrieve them?”
News broke last week that Trump had admitted in a 2021 meeting that he kept a document related to a potential attack on Iran. A subsequent report by CNN said that Trump’s legal team had failed to locate the document in question.
This followed the report that the Justice Department had chosen not to charge Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, in connection with the documents found in his possession.
Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.