We had to stay up a little late to let the grand jury work its magic, but we finally got it: the 41 count indictment including a RICO charge for an alleged (witnessed) conspiracy to interfere in Georgia’s elections by 19 people—one of whom is the former president of the United States.
We did it, Joe!
Now, I am not a legal professional or someone who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, so I cannot explain the complexity and nuance of this indictment. I also cannot explain the more obvious legal concepts beyond “Wow, I would not want to be charged with that!”
But I can briefly discuss the political implications of indicting a former president who is running to be future president against the guy he attempted to overthrow via a violent mob. You know: normal, healthy democracy at work.
Now you might assume that the political context of these indictments is basically the same as the other ones—no, those other other ones, or maybe these ones—in that it won’t change the momentum of the ongoing fascist rat race that is the GOP primary. And no, there won’t be any defections from the Trump cult. But these charges from Fani Willis are different. Not just because they’re related to the big, obvious attempted coup we all lived through, but they’re state-level indictments, which means that Trump can’t escape them by becoming president.
The pardon power that Trump is chasing to insulate himself from prosecution only applies to federal crimes, and Georgia is a rare exception to gubernatorial pardon power in that it doesn’t have any. Sure, New York is also pursuing charges that will stick. But these Georgia indictments are much heavier accusations and come with more serious consequences. Namely, they’ve brought the whole team up on RICO charges—a.k.a. mob boss crimes. And then there’s the fact that the crime they’re trying to prosecute did and could interfere with or affect the outcome of the election.
The scent of the flop sweat from the Republican National Committee is wafting from K Street and can be smelled from anywhere in the country. They are terrified that Trump will be locked up with serious legal issues and no immediate remedy or narrative to save him. The damage from all of the trials Trump has to be present for will make him toxic in a general election, but any failure to feed into his narrative of victimization on the part of the GOP will ostracize about 25-35% of primary voters and crater the party regardless.
It’s the proverbial rock and hard place, and it couldn’t have happened to a better set of people.
As exciting as all of this is, it’s just the beginning of a long, hostile, difficult road to accountability. Trump himself is fighting the only way he knows how: by trying to incite violence through stochastic terrorism inflicted by true believers against the “lawless” Deep State. (We’re at the place where my autocorrect filled in that term; it’s not good.) Trump is going to tamper with witnesses, yell about unfair prosecution, and suggest that the judges, prosecutors, clerks, and possibly his own lawyers are part of a conspiracy to put him in jail before he can drain the swamp and make America too great for the undesirables to control. And along the way, he will undoubtedly convince some people who are predisposed to believe him that it’s worth committing heinous acts to prevent something even worse (say: people they don’t like being represented in government).
But in this moment, we can at least enjoy the memes, share the jokes, and imagine that, with these charges in Georgia, we might just have Trump and his enablers right where we want them.