NATIONAL NEWS

Trump says he will surrender Thursday on Georgia charges tied to efforts to overturn 2020 election

Aug 21, 2023, 1:01 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

FILE - Former President Donald Trump is escorted to a courtroom, April 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Ph...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump is escorted to a courtroom, April 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Former President Donald Trump says he will surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday to face charges in the case accusing him of illegally scheming to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

“Can you believe it? I’ll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday to be ARRESTED,” Trump wrote on his social media network Monday night, hours after his bond was set at $200,000.

It will be Trump’s fourth arrest since April, when he became the first former president in U.S. history to face indictment. Since then, Trump, who remains the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has had what has seemed like an endless procession of bookings and arraignments in jurisdictions across the country. His appearances in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C., have drawn enormous media attention, with news helicopters tracking his every move.

Trump’s announcement came hours after his attorneys met with prosecutors in Atlanta to discuss the details of his release on bond. The former president is barred from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case — including on social media — according to the bond agreement signed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump’s defense attorneys and the judge. It explicitly includes “posts on social media or reposts of posts” made by others.

Trump has repeatedly used social media to attack people involved in the criminal cases against him as he campaigns to reclaim the White House in 2024. He has been railing against Willis since before he was indicted, and singled out Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — a Republican who rebuffed his efforts to overturn the election — by name in a social media post Monday morning.

The agreement also prohibits the former president from making any “direct or indirect threat of any nature” against witnesses or co-defendants, and from communicating in any way about the facts of the case with them, except through attorneys.

The order sets Trump’s bond for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — or RICO — charge at $80,000, and adds $10,000 for each of the 12 other counts he is facing. Bond is the amount defendants must pay as a form of collateral to ensure they show up for required court appearances.

Willis set a deadline of noon Friday for Trump and his 18 co-defendants to turn themselves in to be booked. The prosecutor has proposed that arraignments for the defendants follow during the week of Sept. 5. She has said she wants to try the defendants collectively and bring the case to trial in March of next year, which would put it in the heat of the presidential nominating season.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing. A phone message seeking comment was also left for an attorney for the former president.

Trump’s appearance in Georgia will come a day after the first Republican primary debate, which he has decided to skip.

He is expected to turn himself in at the Fulton County jail, which has long been plagued with problems. The Department of Justice last month opened a civil rights investigation into conditions, citing filthy cells, violence and the death last year of a man whose body was found covered in insects in the main jail’s psychiatric wing. Three people have died in Fulton County custody in the past month.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday afternoon that when Trump surrenders there will be a “hard lockdown” of the area surrounding the jail.

But Trump is not expected to spend much time there.

When defendants arrive at the building, they typically pass through a security checkpoint before checking in for formal booking in the lobby. During the booking process, defendants are typically photographed and fingerprinted and asked to provide certain personal information. Since Trump’s bond has already been set, he will be released from custody once the booking process is complete.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, in Fulton County, arraignments — where a defendant first appears in court — are generally set after a defendant completes the booking process and do not happen on the same day.

Booking a former president, who still has 24-hour Secret Service protection, has created myriad security and logistical issues in other jurisdictions.

In his past appearances in a New York state court and federal courts in Miami and Washington, Trump was not handcuffed while in custody. He was also not required to pose for a mugshot, with officials instead using existing photographs of the former president.

Georgia officials have said Trump will be treated like others charged with crimes in their state.

“Unless somebody tells me differently, we are following our normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter your status, we’ll have a mugshot ready for you,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said at a news conference earlier this month.

Trump was charged last week in the case alongside a slew of allies, who prosecutors say conspired to subvert the will of voters in a desperate bid to keep the Republican in the White House after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and he characterizes the case — and the three others he is facing — as efforts to hurt his 2024 presidential campaign. He has regularly used his Truth Social platform to single out prosecutors and others involved in his cases, and to continue to spread falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

In a post on Monday, Trump called the Fulton County district attorney “crooked, incompetent, & highly partisan.” He also attacked Kemp, whom he has long targeted for the governor’s refusal to intervene after the 2020 election. Kemp has been outspoken in pushing back against Trump, writing in social media last week: “The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”

Bond was also set Monday for three lawyers who were indicted along with Trump. For each of them, the bond for the RICO charge was set at $20,000, with varying amounts for the other charges they face. John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro each had a bond set at $100,000, while Ray Smith’s bond is $50,000.

Bail bondsman Scott Hall, who was accused of participating in a breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County, had his bond set at $10,000.

Other defendants include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and a Trump administration Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, who aided the then-president’s efforts to undo his election loss in Georgia.

The Georgia indictment came just two weeks after the Justice Department special counsel charged Trump in a separate case in a vast conspiracy to overturn the election. Besides the two election-related cases, Trump faces a federal indictment accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents as well as a New York state case charging him with falsifying business records.

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Associated Press reporters Kate Brumback, Jeff Amy and Russ Bynum contributed.

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