A Georgia grand jury on Tuesday accused former President Donald Trump and 18 of his top allies of creating a "criminal enterprise" to overturn the state's 2020 presidential election results, according to an indictment unsealed Monday night.
Among those named in the sweeping 98-page, 41-count indictment were former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, attorneys Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, John Eastman and Sidney Powell, and Cathy Latham, the former Coffee County, Georgia, GOP chair and a “fake elector” who signed a document that Trump had won the state in 2020.
Trump faces 13 felony charges, including violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer and numerous conspiracy charges. The RICO charge carries a minimum of five years in prison.
It’s the fourth time in 4½ months Trump has been indicted.
The charges are the culmination of a more than two-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
"The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Willis said at a late-night news conference.
Willis said the defendants would be allowed to voluntarily surrender by noon Aug. 25. She also said she plans to ask for a trial date within six months and that she intends to try the defendants as a group.
Trump sent a fundraising email to supporters shortly after the indictment was unsealed, blasting Willis as a "left-wing prosecutor" and calling the case "the Fourth Act of Election Interference."
"Justice and the rule of law are officially DEAD in America," the email reads.
Willis launched the probe in February 2021, about a month after a recorded phone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the 11,780 votes he needed to win the state.
In addition to that phone call and other efforts to pressure state officials to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia, investigators also examined false statements Trump’s lawyers made in legislative hearings, a meeting in which phony pro-Trump electors cast votes, the breach of voting equipment by Trump allies in Coffee County and an intimidation campaign by Trump supporters against a Fulton County election worker into falsely admitting she was part of a fraud scheme, according to court documents and other public records.
Willis empaneled a special purpose grand jury in May 2022 to aid in the investigation. In its final report, which was issued in February and partially released shortly after, the grand jury said it found there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Georgia’s election.
The jurors also said they believed “one or more witnesses” committed perjury during their seven-month investigation and urged Willis to “seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.” The grand jury’s forewoman later hinted in a media interview that the recommended charges extended beyond perjury.
The special grand jury did not have indictment powers, meaning Willis had to convene a regular grand jury to further investigate.
Prosecutors began presenting evidence to the grand jury Monday. Former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, and independent journalist George Chidi were set to testify Monday, earlier than initially planned, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Chidi later wrote on social media the proceedings wrapped up without his participation.
The returned indictment capped a chaotic day in Atlanta Monday as the grand jury met to hear testimony. At one point, a list of criminal charges against the former president appeared on the county's website, which prosecutors branded as "inaccurate."
Reuters first reported on the document, which showed charges including racketeering, solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer and conspiracy to commit false statements.
The office of the Fulton County courts clerk later released a statement that seemed to only raise more questions, calling the posted document “fictitious,” but failing to explain how it got on the court's website. The clerk's office said documents without official case numbers “are not considered official filings and should not be treated as such.” But the document that appeared online did have a case number on it.
Trump and his allies quickly pounced on the mistake. The former president, who is once again running for the White House, attempted to fundraise off of it.
“The Grand Jury testimony has not even FINISHED – but it’s clear the District Attorney has already decided how this case will end,” Trump wrote in the fundraising appeal to supporters. “This is an absolute DISGRACE.”
"The Fulton County District Attorney's Office has once again shown that they have no respect for the integrity of the grand jury process," wrote Trump attorneys Drew Findling and Jennifer Little in a statement. "This was not a simple administrative mistake. A proposed indictment should only be in the hands of the District Attorney's Office, yet it somehow made its way to the clerk's office and was assigned a case number and a judge before the grand jury even deliberated. This is emblematic of the pervasive and glaring constitutional violations which have plagued this case from its very inception."
Despite the issue, the grand jury worked late into the evening on Monday to complete its work. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who has been overseeing the grand jury, signed off on the indictment and handed it off to the clerk to be unsealed.
"That's it," he joked to reporters gathered in the courtroom after the anticlimactic proceeding. "Is it all you hoped it'd be?"
Trump's campaign issued a blistering statement after the indictment was handed up, but before it was unsealed, slamming Willis as a "rabid partisan who is campaigning and fundraising on a platform of prosecuting President Trump through these bogus indictments" and accusing her of "strategically" timing her probe "to try and maximally interfere with the 2024 presidential race and damage the dominant Trump campaign."
Along with the other cases against Trump, the campaign statement continues, "the timing of this latest coordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes true motivation driving their fabricated accusations."
In a post on his Truth Social platform Monday about the then-impending indictment, Trump called allegations that he tampered with the election “RIDICULOUS” and continued to falsely claim others were responsible for fraud that cost him the election. As he has with his other indictments, Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, said the case is politically motivated.
The former president also said his call to Raffensperger was a “PERFECT PHONE CALL OF PROTEST.”
The first U.S. president in history to face criminal charges, Trump has now been indicted in four separate cases.
He faces federal charges in two investigations led by special counsel Jack Smith. In Florida, Trump faces 40 counts of retaining military documents after leaving office and obstructing government efforts to recover them. In Washington, the former president is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and other offenses also related to his efforts to undo the 2020 election results.
Trump also faces state charges in New York of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
He has pleaded not guilty in all those cases.
The avalanche of legal troubles has, however, done little to hurt Trump with Republican voters. A Morning Consult poll last week had the former president leading the field by a wide margin — 59% to 16% over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was in second place.
Trump's fellow Republicans quickly came out of the woodwork to support the former president following his historic fourth indictment.
"Justice should be blind, but Biden has weaponized government against his leading political opponent to interfere in the 2024 election," wrote House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on social media. "Now a radical DA in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham."
"Today’s indictment is just the latest political attack in the Democrats’ WITCH HUNT against President Trump," Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. "He did nothing wrong!"
The indictment listed Giuliani, Eastman, Meadows, Chesebro, Clark, Ellis, Powell, Latham, Ray Stallings Smith, Robert Cheeley, Michael Roman, David Shafer, Shawn Still, Stephen Lee, Harrison Floyd, Trevian Kutti, Scott Hall and Misty Hampton as Trump’s co-defendants, all of whom are accused of violating Georgia’s RICO Act.
Each of the defendants is named, facing other charges throughout the indictment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.