Lies, fakery, theft and perjury: Trump's charges and how they could shape the US election

Lies, fakery, theft, perjury and trespass are among the latest charges against Donald Trump, ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

The sweeping scope of these latest charges against Donald Trump is breathtaking.

The indictment paints a portrait of a grand conspiracy to interfere in the election results of a vital battleground state.

According to prosecutors, this wasn’t just a phone call to Brad Raffensperger pressuring him to find 11,780 extra votes, although that is included in count 28.

It is instead a litany of lies, fakery, forgery, theft, perjury and trespass - part of a concerted campaign prosecutors allege, to nobble the legitimate results of a democratic and free election.

Trump talks to Mike Pence on the phone from the White House in 2021. Credit: AP

It wasn’t just Donald Trump either.

18 others have been accused including significantly Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff who was thought to be a cooperating witness in the federal case brought earlier this month.

We now have four separate, sprawling criminal trials, each on their own carrying a potential jail sentence for the 45th president.

This latest indictment uses state racketeering laws, normally used for tackling organised crime, and they carry a five year minimum prison sentence. 

The case has extraordinary detail, setting out a plan to use a slate of fake electors to send a false result from Georgia, putting the state in Trump’s column even though Biden clinched a narrow victory.

There is also the eye-raising breach of election security in Coffee County.

One of the defendants, a local Republican leader, Cathy Latham, allowed ‘computer experts’ in to a supposedly secure election room to examine computers and voting systems.

Two weeks later Trump allies who were involved with trying to overturn the results, were also given access to this room for hours, “in furtherance of the conspiracy” - a phrase used more than 100 times in the document.

Many of the “predicate acts” which set out the conspiracy are crimes in their own right, but some are not.

But they are used to set out the relentless efforts by a group of Trump allies, led by the former president himself, to sway the results in their favour.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is among those charged. Credit: AP

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is among those charged as well as conspiracy theorist and lawyer Sidney Powell.

The big question now is about timing.

The district attorney leading the case, Fani Willis, said last night (Monday) that the accused have until August 25th to surrender to the court.

That is right at the end of a week in which the Republican debate is due to happen in Milwaukee.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Credit: AP

Could Trump decide to appear on the same day to switch the spotlight from his rivals to him?

But also is there any chance of this case being heard before the election in November 2024?

It is going to be an extreme challenge.

Nineteen defendants, each with their own team of lawyers is going to make this very unwieldy.

Just selecting the jury could take weeks.

And what will be the effect on Trump’s election campaign?

He already has a commanding lead in the race to secure the Republican nomination, but he’ll now be juggling multiple court appearances with stump speeches and rallies.

Some think that doesn’t matter and may even play to Trump’s advantage.

He’s already greeted the news with predictable claims of a witch-hunt and political show trial.

Some think the election won’t be fought in the small towns and communities of traditional swing states, but instead in the four court rooms in which Trump will be forced to appear.

This sets up the legal peril ahead, not just as a test of American justice, but as a battle for the soul of the nation.

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