Former US President Donald Trump is set to surrender on Thursday to authorities in the Georgia, where he is accused of attempting to overturn the election results of the 2020 presidential elections. This would be the first time a US President will be arrested
The Fulton County grand jury indictment of Trump follows a two-year investigation ignited by a January 2021 phone call in which the then-president suggested that Georgia’s Republican secretary of state could help him “find 11,780 votes” needed to reverse his narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
The indictment and the list of 19 defendants were announced earlier this month by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who spearheaded the investigation against the 77-year-old Republican leader. This marks the fourth criminal case against Trump, as the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 elections is also accused of inciting the 2021 riots on the US Capitol, illegally retaining classified documents and paying hush money.
His surrender comes at a time when his leading Republican rivals gathered on Wednesday night for the first presidential primary debate. The former president chose to skip the primetime event, but he will be a central figure nonetheless.
“Unless somebody tells me differently, we are following our normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter your status, we’ll have a mug shot ready for you,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said at a news conference earlier this month. Willis has given all of the defendants - including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump's ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows - until Friday afternoon to surrender at the main Fulton County jail.
Trump not expected to spend much time in Fulton County jail
Trump will turn himself in at the Fulton County jail, which has a notorious reputation. An civil rights investigation was opened last month by the US Justice Department into the prison's filthy coinditions, violence and death of a man whose body was found covered in insects in the jail's psychiatric wing. However, the former President is not expected to spend much time there.
Trump's attorneys and prosecutors have already agreed to a bond of $200,000, along with conditions that include barring the former president from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case, including on social media.
In Fulton County, defendants generally appear in court for the first time after they have surrendered in prison and complete the booking process. That means Trump could have to make two trips to Georgia in the coming weeks.
Trump's standing in the primary has only increased as the charges have mounted, leaving the GOP on track — barring a stunning realignment — to nominate a candidate who would enter the race against President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in a potentially weak position.
Ahead of Wednesday's Republican debate, Trump's senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita declared that Trump had “already won this evening's debate because everything is going to be about him". “In fact, tonight's Republican undercard event really shouldn't even be called a debate, but rather an audition to be a part of President Trump's team in his second term," he quipped.
(with AP inputs)