Georgia prosecutor, Fani Willis, has indicted 18 people involved with her ongoing investigation into claims that former President Donald J. Trump attempted to unduly influence the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election in Georgia.
On top of having a caustic recording of the former president urging Georgia election officials to “find” him an additional 11,570 votes – that would have awarded him the state’s electors, thereby keeping him in the White House – Willis now says she has evidence in the form of text messages that the Trump legal team in 2020 gained “unauthorized access” to Georgia state election systems.
Specifically, Willis says that Trump’s legal team challenging the results of the 2020 Election in Georgia gained access to proprietary election data. According to the indictment, Willis believes that the Trump 2020 legal team did, in fact, gain unauthorized access using a flimsy letter written by a Republican Party official in Coffee County, Georgia, to do so.
Willis has linked this unauthorized access to the Georgia election system in 2020 by Trump’s legal team to a wider scheme orchestrated by the former president’s team to overthrow the overall results of the 2020 Election—a strategy that inevitably led to the tragic events of the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
The RICO Act and Donald Trump
The Atlanta-based grand jury investigation into Trump’s alleged attempt to overthrow the 2020 Election is a significant threat to Trump’s legal safety. Even if he were to win the presidency in 2024, he would be unable to pardon himself as the case is occurring in a state court as opposed to a federal one. Presidents can only pardon at the federal level.
Willis is going after Trump on racketeering charges, using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970 to do it.
In such a case, if one individual charged under RICO is found guilty, all of those who stand accused are found guilty. The law was designed to help prosecutors take down mafia don who may have insulated themselves from blame during the course of their crimes.
Thus, by allowing prosecutors to have more leniency in targeting illegal organizations rather than specific leaders of those groups, it made successfully pursuing criminal organizations much easier – in theory, it helped to better protect the wider public, too.
Willis’ team has already gotten multiple “fake electors” involved with Trump’s 2020 Election challenge to flip. They are claiming that Trump’s actions in Georgia were part of John Eastman’s plan to throw out the electors from each state and replace them with pro-Trump elements.
This is why the Left believes that January 6 happened: because Eastman’s theory rested on getting then-Vice-President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the results of the 2020 Election on January 6 of that year, thereby kicking the issue back to each state’s legislatures, where they’d choose new electors to determine the outcome of the 2020 Election.
The Atlanta prosecution believes that Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia election officials in 2020, paired with the purported unauthorized breach of Georgia election information by Trump attorneys in Coffee County, was part of a larger conspiracy by Trump’s team to short-circuit the results of the 2020 Election.
Among those charged in the Fani Willis Atlanta-based prosecution are the likes of Jenna Ellis – now a surrogate for Governor Ron DeSantis’ nascent presidential campaign, Sydney Powell – the disgraced former Department of Justice attorney who represented Trump during the 2020 Election challenge, Rudy Giuliani – who led Trump’s legal challenge to the 2020 Election, John Eastman – the purported mastermind behind the “Fake Elector” scheme, and an assortment of other individuals involved with Trump’s overall challenge to the 2020 Election.
Andy C. McCarthy, the widely respected DOJ prosecutor who famously took down the “Blind Sheikh” – the man who attempted to blow up the World Trade Center for al Qaeda in 1993 – believes that the Atlanta case against Trump is one of the top true legal threats to the forty-fifth president.
What’s more, if Willis can make her case, it just might feed into the ongoing federal investigation into former President Trump’s alleged attempt to sow an insurrection on January 6. DOJ attorney, Jack Smith, who is also leading the federal grand jury investigation into Trump for supposedly mishandling classified documents, is in charge of the DOJ’s grand jury investigation into Trump for his purported role in the January 6 riots.
It remains to be seen how the Georgia case will play out. But the recording of Donald Trump alone means the former president will have an uphill battle.
Donald Trump’s Defense
At the same time, Fani Willis is not entirely solid as an objective individual. She is a Democrat.
For example, she was barred from pursuing one of the suspected people involved with Trump’s alleged “Fake Elector” schemes in Georgia because that individual was running for Georgia lieutenant governor and Willis had campaigned for and donated to that individual’s Democratic Party rival.
By using RICO, too, Willis is casting a very wide net.
That wider net is catching more fish, but it does not necessarily have a tighter mesh. And Trump and those who are being indicted will have their day in court. Giuliani denies having anything to do with the alleged illegal acts.
Plus, the Coffee County Republican Party official who penned the letter inviting the Trump lawyers to gain access to the election data publicly stated in 2020 that the Dominion voting machines could easily “flip” votes—a key tenet of faith among the election denial crowd from 2020.
While a coterie of lawsuits made against the top conservative media and Republican Party officials who’ve claimed Dominion voting machines could be rigged have all been found in favor of Dominion Voting Systems (whose representatives deny that the machines can be easily hacked or that they were, in fact, hacked in 2020), those who were indicted by Fani Willis could argue that they believed the election was stolen.
Therefore, they were acting under the sincere belief that they had been wronged. It might not save them from being found guilty. Although, if they could prove their intent was genuinely to correct a perceived injustice, it might help their defense.
At the same time, there is eyewitness testimony from the United States House of Representatives January 6 Committee investigation which clearly states that the former president never believed he’d actually lost the election in 2020. Basically, Trump was trying to both protect his wounded pride after having lost to “Sleepy” Joe Biden in 2020 and keep himself relevant so he could again run for president in 2024 by claiming that the election was stolen.
Donald Trump Never Helps His Own Case
The bottom line is that Donald Trump and his representatives behaved foolishly in their 2020 election challenge.
Proving the election was rigged was never going to happen. In fact, in over 60 lawsuits, the Trump Campaign attorneys could never prove their claims in a court of law. Yet, they persisted in fighting the results.
The longer they fought, the more outlandish their actions became—to the point that a sitting president picked up the phone, called election officials in a contested state, and demanded that they find him more votes.
Neither Donald Trump nor his well-paid advisers ever stopped to consider that such a historic call might be surreptitiously recorded – which, of course, it was.
Once more, Trump’s sloppy and undisciplined behavior cost both himself and the country significantly.
Now, because of those absurd actions by Trump and his team, the country is being made to endure the humiliation of having a presidential candidate (a former president, no less) for a major political party run for office as a four-time indicted politician.
This is definitely not a good look for America (not that having a sclerotic, octogenarian president, Joe Biden, is a much better look).
As Trump might have once tweeted, “So sad.”
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.