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Atlanta, Georgia: Donald Trump has arrived in Georgia to turn himself in to face criminal charges once again – this time at an infamous suburban jail plagued by violence, squalor and overcrowding.
In yet another extraordinary day in presidential history, the 77-year-old Republican’s private plane touched down in Atlanta on Thursday evening, where Trump was set to surrender over allegations that he was part of an alleged “criminal enterprise” designed to subvert the 2020 election results in that state.
Former US president Donald Trump.Credit: Reuters
The charges – which the former president denies – represent the fourth criminal case that Trump has faced in about five months.
However, in all the other cases, Trump was arraigned in court: firstly in New York over alleged hush money payments; then in Miami over allegedly mishandling classified documents; followed by Washington DC over his role in trying to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
In this matter, Trump was forced to surrender in the Fulton County Jail, a notorious detention centre about 20 minutes driving from downtown Atlanta.
Inside the facility, Trump was expected to be fingerprinted and potentially have his mugshot taken – something that campaign insiders were considering using to solicit donations for the former president’s campaign to return to the White House.
Authorities put up barricades outside of the Fulton County Jail.Credit: AP
But Trump maintains his innocence, and in an interview with axed Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night, which was designed to upstage the first Republican debate, the former president described all the indictments against him as “all trivia, all nonsense”.
“Bullshit, it’s all bullshit,” he said.
Trump’s surrender comes after several of his 18 alleged co-conspirators also turned themselves in, including key members of his former legal team: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was the latest to surrender on Thursday for his alleged role in helping Trump pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory. The remaining co defendants have until midday tomorrow to do the same.
This booking photo provided by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office shows Rudy Giuliani after he surrendered to police.Credit: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office
Outside the jail ahead of his arrest, dozens of supporters began gathering around the entrance of the facility awaiting. One man was seated directly outside the main entrance of the jail with a handmade sign saying “Lock Biden Up”; another carried a sign saying “Trump Won – Save America.”
Others, such as Virginia Webb, from northeast Georgia, took a different view.
“It was almost a two our trip to come here but I know how important it is,” she told this masthead, holding a “Lock Him Up” sign.
“Trump lost this election but he tried to rig it so he would get free votes here in Georgia.”
“Thankfully we have elected officials – including Republican elected officials who are not afraid to stand up and do the right thing for Georgia officials.”
Virginia Webb of North Georgia outside the Fulton County Jail.Credit: Farrah Tomazin
Trump’s latest surrender, which was televised live on US cable networks, has also thrown the spotlight on the parlous state of the facility where he was to be booked.
Conditions at the Fulton County Jail are so bad that the federal justice department last month launched an investigation into “credible allegations that an incarcerated person died covered in insects and filth”.
The department also raised concerns that the jail was “structurally unsafe, that prevalent violence has resulted in serious injuries and homicides, and that officers are being prosecuted for using excessive force.”
The jail is a few kilometres from the Fulton County Courthouse where Trump and 18 alleged co-conspirators being indicted by an Atlanta grand jury this month after a 2.5 year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
The charges cover claims that Trump and his allies were part of a racketeering scheme that included setting up phony electors to produce fake votes, making false representations to the courts, tampering with electronic voting machines, misusing the power of the Justice Department and pressuring state and federal officials not to certify Biden’s win.
The most well-known part of the alleged scheme involves the now-infamous phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, urging him to “find” the 11,780 votes he needed to put him ahead of Biden.
But the Georgia charges are particularly troubling for Trump because he won’t have the power to pardon himself, should he be re-elected, as he otherwise could in a federal conviction. The only option he would have would be to apply to Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles – and only after five years after serving his sentence.
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