North Carolinians Mark Meadows and Sidney Powell are among the 18 people indicted with former President Donald Trump by the state of Georgia for alleged crimes during the state’s 2020 elections.
A Fulton County grand jury returned the indictments on Monday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis claimed that the former president led a “criminal enterprise” to alter the results of the 2020 election. The special grand jury convened in May of 2022 under the leadership of foreperson Emily Kohrs, 30, who drew criticism for her February 2023 media tour during which she revealed publicly their deliberative process and named some of those called to testify.
All of those named in the indictment face one charge of violating the state’s Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff and a former US House member for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, also faces one charge of Solicitation of Violating of Oath by a Public Officer. Powell, a graduate of UNC School of Law and current president of Texas-based Defending the Republic, faces seven charges, including conspiracy to commit election fraud.
“The indictments allege that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for challenging the election, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results,” said Willis in a press conference on Monday.
Others charged in the indictment include Trump; former New York Gov. Rudy Guilliani; and David Shafer, chair of the Georgia Republican Party.
The grand jury issued arrest warrants for the 19 people charged. Willis announced that they can voluntarily surrender until noon on Aug. 25, 2023. She thanked the Fulton County sheriff and Atlanta Police Department for “keeping us safe” through the grand jury and indictment process.
“There does not appear to be much disagreement about who Meadows spoke with and what he said to them,” said Dr. Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation. “The central question will be whether his words and actions went beyond the normal ‘working the refs’ that partisans do with election officials. Jurors will have to judge the nature of Meadows’ words in the context of the 2020 race.”
In 2020, Jackson wrote an analysis of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s efforts after her narrow loss to current Chief Justice Paul Newby.
“Beasley tried to find a few hundred votes in her close reelection contest by trying to convince county election officials to accept ballots from likely Beasley supporters that had previously been rejected as illegally cast,” said Jackson. “Beasley’s protests filed with election boards were riddled with inaccuracies and biased in favor of Democrats. Was that rough-and-tumble politics? Yes. Was she trying to win by getting election officials to alter their vote counts, Again, yes, but no prosecutors targeted Beasley for it.”
Trump’s legal team is pointing to a document leaked Monday afternoon before the grand jury wrapped deliberations at 8 pm. At the time it was dismissed by prosecutors as false, but now appears to mirror the final indictment released Monday night.
“The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has once again shown that they have no respect for the integrity of the grand jury process,” attorneys Drew Findling and Jennifer Little said. “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.”
Trump announced on Truth Social that he will hold a press conference Monday, Aug. 21, during which he says he will present evidence of election fraud in 2020.
This story was updated at 5pm on August 15, 2023.