Trump's Georgia indictment, his 4th, is one with serious consequences

IANS Photo

Washington, August 20 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump has until August 22 to surrender in a criminal case at a Georgia state court and local officials have said they don’t plan to waive some of the most damning parts of the procedure, such as posing for mugshots.

Imagine that: front and profile shots of a former US President. But this case has far more dire implications for Trumpt, far more than his other three indictments.

A conviction in the first case in Manhattan, is unlikely to lead to a jail term.

Convictions in the other two -- January 6 efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat and handling of classified documents -- can lead to significant jail terms, but Trump can pardon himself if elected president; one of the reasons why he is running again.

And if the cases have not been resolved by January 20, 2025, when he would take office if elected, he may be able to stop them as they both are being run by the department of justice, which would be under him in that situation.

The Fulton county case, however, is different. It is neither as light as the Manhattan case, nor can Trump, in the event of being elected president during or after the case, be able to either shut it down or pardon himself. It’s a state case and not subject to federal oversight or control and Georgia state pardon rules are extremely restrictive.

This was Trump’s fourth indictment, and brought up the cumulative aggregate of charges he is facing to 91 -- 34 counts in a case against him New York state for falsifying business records in connection to the payment of hush money to an adult film star; 4 in connection with federal case brought against him in connection to January 6 efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election; 40 charges in a second federal case in connection with his mishandling of official papers of his presidency, including confidential documents; and 13 charges filed against him by Fulton county for violating state laws on racketeering by working with 18 co-accused as an enterprise to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

The Fulton County indictment should worry the former president the most, although he has responded to it with a characteristic response —  it’s a political witch-hunt and that the prosecutors are all Democrats or appointed by Democrats are biased.

“This politically-inspired indictment, which could have been brought close to three years ago, was tailored for placement right smack in the middle of my political campaign, where I am leading all Republicans -- by a lot --and beating Joe Biden soundly in almost all polls,” he said after the Georgia indictment, and called the Fulton County District Attorney (DA) Fani Willis “racist and corrupt”.

The Fulton County DA announced the indictment of Trump and 18 allies, including his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani, on 41 counts including violation of under Georgia states’ Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is patterned on the federal law that has been used to shut down the mafia, calling indicted members an enterprise formed with the purpose of overturning Trump’s defeat in the 2020 elections.

If elected President in 2024, Trump may be able to shut down the two federal cases if they are still underway. But he won’t be able to do anything about the ones in New York and Georgia.

And if convicted, Trump will be able to grant presidential pardon to himself and all others  convicted along with him in the two federal cases.

He will not need to do anything in the New York case in which, legal experts believe, conviction will not lead to imprisonment.

Conviction in the Georgia case may lead to a significant jail term and he won’t be able to pardon himself because presidential pardons can be granted only to those convicted in federal cases.

Only the state Governor can pardon him and that too only on his or her own accord, but on the advice of a pardon and parole board, and only after the completion of five years of the sentence in jail.