Trump's Fourth Indictment | Crooked Media
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August 14, 2023
What A Day
Trump's Fourth Indictment

In This Episode

  • Donald Trump was charged with 13 felonies in Georgia yesterday, including forgery, filing false documents and racketeering. Eighteen others in his circle were indicted as well, all tied to the alleged attempt to overturn the outcome in Georgia’s 2020 Presidential Election. To break down the charges, we’re joined by Morgan Cloud, professor of law at Emory University who specializes in Georgia’s RICO statute.
  • And in headlines: the official death toll from the deadly Maui wildfires has climbed to 99, a Montana judge ruled that young people in the state have a constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, and parents in Florida must sign off on their kids being called any name other than what’s on their birth certificate.


Show Notes:


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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Tuesday, August 15th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day. And we’re going to jump straight into the big news. Trump was slapped with new criminal charges yesterday, this time in Georgia. He now faces a total of four criminal indictments. 


Priyanka Aribindi: As we mentioned yesterday, these new ones are for the alleged plot to overturn the state’s presidential election results back in 2020. Trump himself was charged with 13 felonies, including forgery, filing false documents, and the only charge labeled serious felony, which is racketeering. We’ll explain that one in a little more detail in just a moment. But in addition to Trump, 18 other people were named in the indictment as well, including his former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In total, there are 41 counts. Those charges were issued by Fani Willis, the D.A. in Fulton County, where Atlanta is. Here she is speaking last night: 


[clip of Fani Willis] Every individual charged in the indictment is charged with one count of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act through participation in a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere to accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office beginning on January 20th, ’21. 


Priyanka Aribindi: She also said that all those charged have until noon on Friday, August 25th, to voluntarily surrender. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, the indictment laid out 161 instances where Trump and his circle worked together in this alleged conspiracy. One event, such as Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state, insisting that he find him 12,000 votes. Another example was Rudy Giuliani giving false testimony to Georgia lawmakers about election fraud. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But let’s get more information on that most serious felony charge, a violation of Georgia’s RICO law. RICO standing for racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations. That means that Trump is accused of being part of a scheme or a racket with the intent to commit a crime. In this case, that crime is coordinating with a network of lawyers, lawmakers and other political operatives to help find the votes that he needed to win in Georgia. 


Tre’vell Anderson: We’re going to get expert analysis on this case with Morgan Cloud. He’s a professor of law at Emory University where he specializes in Georgia’s RICO statute. Morgan, welcome to What A Day. 


Morgan Cloud: It’s a pleasure. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks so much for being here. Let’s jump right on into it. How strong of a case has District Attorney Fani Willis laid out here? 


Morgan Cloud: I think that it’s for people who are and I imagine that Crooked Media listeners are politically oriented people in general. They will be really aware of the federal indictment in D.C. alleging election interference and January 6th, that was designed to be very precise. It’s a beautifully done, simple document with one defendant named, Mr. Trump. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Morgan Cloud: And then six unnamed coconspirators in only four counts. Everyone, I think, who looks at this would agree that was designed for quick hit, get this case to trial as simply and cleanly as possible. This is kind of the opposite. This indictment is about 100 pages. There are 19 defendants, 41 counts. Some of the charges, I think, are very creative. I think they’re quite legitimate under Georgia law, but they’re unique. The possibility of this case being tried for a long time with lots of complexity I think has to be expected. And therefore to say if she’s got a strong case, a weak case. I can’t make that estimate right now. I will say she’s got a ton of stuff in here. This is just jam packed. It’s going to keep the Georgia courts busy for a while, I think. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I know your expertise is in RICO. So what are some of the challenges that D.A. Willis will face in trying to prove this RICO case? 


Morgan Cloud: RICO is, the R is for racketeering. One of the things that’s really important to understand about the RICO statute, whether it’s the Georgia statute or the federal statute or any other state statute, is that in terms of how they define crimes, they generally do not make any reference to mobsters or gangsters or racketeerers. What they do is they list certain crimes, either state or federal, and then say if these crimes are committed in a way that amounts to a pattern of racketeering activity, and they’re part of an enterprise which is basically just a collection or organization of people, in this case, an informal association of individuals supporting Mr. Trump is the allegation of what the enterprise is. And so it’s just complicated. It’s not like a prosecutor saying, okay, to use Mr. Trump’s own campaign language from eight years ago. It’s not like the prosecutor says this man went out in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot the victim dead. We’ve got one victim. [laugh] We’ve got one criminal act. We’ve got one alleged criminal. And it’s pretty focused. The racketeering world, uh this statute, the idea is to not just go after the single criminal, but try to identify the broader organization that carries on ongoing criminal activity for some, in this case, shared purpose, again, overturning the election results. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You just kind of spoke to this already, but we know that DA Willis has a history of RICO prosecutions. Some critics even say that she over uses the statute. How do you predict that that kind of past experience will affect this particular case against Trump? 


Morgan Cloud: The most relevant case, it seems to me, is about nine or ten years ago, the Atlanta Public Schools case, where a number of teachers and school administrators in the Atlanta public school system were charged with doctoring standardized test results for the purpose of their own careers and boosting their schools and so on. That was a case involving a nontraditional kind of set of racketeering defendants. School teachers and administrators, public employees involved in education. And it was a very sophisticated, very complicated case like this one. Dozens of charges involving a wide range of statutes and alleged criminal activities. And I think of all the people who were charged, all of them were convicted either by pleading guilty or at trial, except for one person. I think one person was acquitted. And so she has and her team have a lot of experience putting together a complicated political case involving government actors. And so that’s, I think, the best example of a case that gives her credibility for bringing this kind of difficult, complicated, sophisticated and to use the cliche that never seems to fail with the Trump world, unprecedented case. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Of course, you know, a conviction is the real thing that we are all wondering about here. [laughter] What is it going to take to get there? 


Morgan Cloud: I think it’s going to take a while. There are 19 defendants. Under Georgia law, if any one of those 19 demands a speedy trial, that defendants’ entitled both by the Georgia Constitution and the Georgia statutes to a speedy trial. And the Georgia statute has this funny thing called the two term way of calculating it. It’s pretty brief in the scheme of U.S. law. So it’s possible that one of these or more of these defendants will say, let’s get this over with. Let’s do it. But it’s also possible that they will all line up with what’s the well-known and long tested Trump strategy of delay, delay, delay, delay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Morgan Cloud: And so if you think that Mr. Trump will have lots and lots and lots of motions he can file to try to delay, but there will be 19 people who will be looking to find ways to stall. So to me, that’s the most daunting thing. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Thank you so much for all of your expertise. We really appreciate you joining us today on the show. 


Morgan Cloud: My pleasure. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s Morgan Cloud, a professor of law at Emory University, where he specializes in Georgia’s RICO statute. There’s more aspects of this indictment from Georgia, and we’ll definitely be sure to give you details and analysis on all of them in the episodes to come. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But that is a total of four criminal indictments that Donald Trump faces. And the final one to expect that we know of at this time. From here on out, it is all about the cases heading to court. We will follow all of them as they happen, some of them during this 2024 presidential campaign. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]. 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: First, an update on the deadly Maui wildfires and recovery efforts. The official death toll has climbed to 99 as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday night. And that number could still go up. Over 250 FEMA personnel were deployed to help residents register for assistance and report critical needs. They are also helping Maui residents get connected to food, clean drinking water and shelter. Meanwhile, several law firms are starting to bring cases against Hawaiian Electric. That is the state’s biggest electric utility. Those lawsuits allege that Hawaiian Electric’s power lines caused the wildfires when they were knocked down by the high winds. One class action suit, for example, claims that the company didn’t turn the power off despite being aware of the high wind watch and red flag warning conditions in Maui and the risk of a wildfire in those conditions. Those attorneys are trying to get Hawaiian Electric to pay people for the losses. But as a reminder, the official cause of the wildfires hasn’t yet been determined. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A Montana judge yesterday ruled in favor of young activists who argued that state agencies violated their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. The case was brought by 16 plaintiffs, all young people who say they felt and feel the negative impacts of climate change. And the reason why they’re able to even bring this case is because Montana’s state constitution literally guarantees residents to a, quote, “clean and healthful environment.” On Monday, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley agreed with them and ruled specifically that the policy the state uses in evaluating requests for fossil fuel permits is unconstitutional because it does not allow agencies to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. A major win. Meanwhile, state officials have already pledged to appeal the decision. 


Priyanka Aribindi: This is really exciting. It’s, reminds me of that quote that vindicates the belief that just ordinary people, like young activists in this case can do something really extraordinary and cool. In a filing late Sunday night, Hunter Biden accused the Justice Department of trying to back out of a major part of his government plea deal. The agreement in question would allow Biden to avoid a felony gun charge if he enrolled in a diversion program for gun offenders. Hunter Biden’s lawyers hope to keep this part of the deal intact. They say that the agreement is binding, but after a tense court hearing last month, it is unclear if prosecutors under Special Counsel David Weiss share this belief. Judge Maryellen Noreika , who oversaw the hearing, has urged Weiss to respond to Biden’s filing by noon today. The inquiry into Hunter Biden seemed to be reaching an end in June when both sides announced that they had reached a deal. But Weiss, who has been overseeing the investigation, said that it could now be headed to trial. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Biden administration issued new guidance for colleges yesterday regarding how they can still consider race in their admissions decisions. That’s despite the Supreme Court’s overturning of affirmative action back in June. There, the high court said that colleges can’t consider race as a factor on its own, only how race has affected an applicant’s life. Yesterday’s guidance included examples of the ways universities can still take an applicant’s race into account without breaking the law. For example, if a student writes an essay about being the first Black violinist in their city’s youth orchestra, a college can consider that in its decision. The administration also reaffirmed that schools are still allowed to use targeted outreach when looking to maintain a diverse student body. They just can’t give preference to students based on their race. The Biden administration is expected to issue even more guidelines and strategies that colleges can use to maintain diverse student populations. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, without affirmative action in place, we all saw the stats. We heard about it, how hard it’s going to be for colleges to do this. So I feel like they could use all the help they can get. Six white former Mississippi law officers pleaded guilty yesterday to state charges for torturing two Black men, which ended with one of the men being shot in the mouth. The racist attack happened this past January when the six officers entered a house without a warrant and assaulted the two men using a sex toy, stun guns and other objects over a 90 minute period. Prosecutors said that some of the officers called themselves the goon squad because of their willingness to torture individuals and cover up evidence. All six offenders also pleaded guilty earlier this month in a federal civil rights case for the same incident, after the Justice Department opened its probe in February. These charges came after an investigation by the Associated Press that connected the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019. Leaving two dead and another seriously impaired. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, students across the country are heading back to school this month. And in Florida, the ABCs could come with conservative indoctrination. Several outlets have reported about the addition of PragerU Kids videos into K through 12 classrooms. Those videos are produced by Prager University Foundation, a conservative organization that is not an accredited university. One video features conservative political commentator Candace Owens explaining that slavery is not a, quote, “white phenomenon.” And another one by author Andrew Klavan asks, quote, “Who needs feminism?” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, Lord. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Where to begin? 


Tre’vell Anderson: The kids are not all right. The kids are not all right anymore. Not with these going on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely not. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Florida is the first state to allow PragerU kids videos to be used in public schools. Another big change comes to nicknames. Yes, nicknames, which parents now have to sign off on. That’s because of a stipulation in the so called don’t say gay law, which requires parents to okay their kids being called any name other than what’s on their birth certificate. Teachers are also prohibited from using students chosen pronouns. It’s going to shit in Florida. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It really is. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s been going to shit for a little minute and now it is deeply there. This isn’t great. I hate it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review. Call me by your nickname and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just constitutions that guarantee clean air like me. What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And keep suing, kids!


Priyanka Aribindi: I love it. It’s a lesson for all of us. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.


Priyanka Aribindi: More litigious. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. [laughter] [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.