Donald Trump and 18 others, including Rudolph Giuliani and Mark Meadows, have been arrested in Georgia on charges related to their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, has accused Trump of engaging in a wide-ranging criminal enterprise to suborn and browbeat high-ranking Georgia officials into taking unlawful actions to overturn the election. The charges include filing false documents, conspiracy to commit forgery, and racketeering under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Trump is facing a total of 91 felony charges across multiple cases, including those related to “hush money” paid to a porn star, his retention of classified documents, and his role in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
RICO is a potent legal weapon that carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The charge requires only the proof of two crimes out of numerous possibilities and allows the prosecutor to present a pattern of behavior as evidence of a single criminal undertaking. For Trump and his team, the prospect of facing a jury deliberating RICO is a doomsday scenario. Alongside the Georgia prosecution, Trump also faces legal action in Manhattan, Florida, and Washington, DC, for various charges related to his conduct during and after his presidency.
Trump’s arrest marks the culmination of a political career characterized by a disregard for checks and balances, a mockery of the law, and the incitement of violence by his supporters. Over 1,100 of his supporters have been charged in the past 31 months for attempting to physically disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results. The indictment serves as a warning against the corrosive effects of Trump’s brand of politics and aims to distinguish lawful challenges in future elections from outright criminal acts. The arrest sends a clear message that certain norms and behaviors will not be condoned by the public, irrespective of the courts’ views.