How is it a criminal enterprise to challenge the results of a razor-thin election?
How is it a criminal enterprise if the first amendment protects it?
The sweeping 98-page document charges Former President Trump and nineteen others with various felony charges for actions that occurred in the frenetic time immediately following the 2020 Presidential Election, an election Trump officially lost by the slimmest of margins: 0.23% and 11,779 votes.
For those of us who live here in Georgia, there was a palpable feeling that something was wrong. This was the first election where we had ballot drop-off boxes spread all over with nobody keeping an eye on them. There were daily reports of ballot harvesting in nursing homes. There were mysterious water leaks where the votes were being counted, poll watchers were reporting a lack of access to the count, and the counting seemed to stop and start for no apparent reason. Cynics suspected the pauses were meant to figure out how many votes Joe Bide still needed to carry Georgia.
Once Georgia was officially called for Joe Biden, President Trump, and his team immediately cried foul and began looking for ways to challenge and even overturn the election. There did not seem to be a coherent legal strategy to get into court and challenge the election. However, one lawsuit filed in Fulton County sought to challenge 147,000 absentee ballots to see if any were illegitimate. The plaintiff was not Donald Trump. This suit alleged evidence of fraudulent ballots and improper ballot counting in Fulton County. Nine Georgia voters filed it. These voters never had their day in court because the judge dismissed the case without hearing the Plaintiff’s evidence on the grounds that they “lacked standing.”
Trump appealed to Georgia’s Secretary of State by calling and imploring him to take action to correct the perceived fraud given the razor-thin margin of defeat. In addition, Trump listened to advice and counsel from a variety of lawyers, including Attorney General Bill Barr, Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman, to name a few.
Bill Barr reportedly told Trump the election was clean, and he lost fair and square. It remains a mystery how Barr came to this conclusion without investigating Trump’s claims of fraud. Meanwhile, Eastman and others reportedly advised Trump that it was plausible to contest the election by imploring Vice President Pence to disregard the slate of electors from Georgia (and other places) in favor of an alternate slate of Trump electors when counting the electoral college votes. For this strategy to prevail, any alternate electors would need to have their names submitted by the constitutional deadline of the 4th Wednesday in December 2020. So, in Georgia and other states, Trump supporters presented themselves as alternate electors on the theory that if any of the fraud claims could be sufficiently proven, the Vice President would be able to count the Trump Electors.
This legal strategy, flawed as it may have been, was presented to Trump, who opted to press this strategy, presumably in lieu of the traditional method of filing lawsuits that could have recreated a fiasco like we saw in 2000 when Al Gore disputed his election loss to George W. Bush.
With this context in mind, Trump and 19 other defendants have been indicted in Fulton County, GA by the local DA, Fani Willis.
The centerpiece of the indictment is a charge under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This is a law intended to prosecute mobsters and drug cartels, yet here we have it aimed at a then-sitting President and others for his actions in challenging his razor-thin loss.
The crux of the RICO charge is spelled out in the indictment:
“Defendant…Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump…refused to accept that Trump lost, and [he] knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump. That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the state of Georgia, and in other states.”
Among the 160 alleged unlawful acts done in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy are:
*Creating the list of alternate electors
* Calling the GA Secretary of State on the phone to urge him to intercede
* Urging the Vice President to reject slates of electors from states where Trump believed fraud had occurred
* Trump’s televised victory speech on November 4, 2020
* Making statements, including social media posts, declaring there was fraud in the 2020 election
* Asking Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (also a defendant) to send a text message to obtain a phone number for the leader of the PA legislature
The list of trivial “corrupt acts” in furtherance of the alleged criminal enterprise goes on and on in a similar fashion, alleging trivial innocuous things as evidence of some corrupt criminal enterprise.
Georgia’s RICO law is very broad, but in this case, she stretched it too far. For example, she lists phone calls made in the oval office between the sitting President of The United States and governors in other states. Our RICO law does not go so far as to reach into the Oval Office and make a crime out of the political actions of a president of the other party.
Back to my questions: How is it a criminal enterprise to challenge the results of a razor-thin election? How is it a criminal enterprise if the first amendment protects it?
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Trump is criminally accused of political and personal speech protected by the 1st Amendment. When Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State to enlist his assistance to uncover perceived fraud, that was Trump petitioning a government official for redress of Grievance. The same for when Trump implored Vice President Pence to reject electors from where Trump claimed fraud caused him to lose the election.
Regardless of how you feel about Trump, this indictment should alarm all Americans. We have reached to point where local DAs bastardize the criminal justice process, resorting to “lawfare” to criminalize election challenges.
We are criminalizing political speech.
We are criminalizing the pursuit of legal strategies that fail.
We are criminalizing appeals to government officials for redress of grievances.
You need look no further than the statements of the DA herself to see that this is a partisan political prosecution. She is demanding Trump surrender to law enforcement. She literally wants him in the Fulton County jail. This is absurd. The Fulton Jail is a disaster. It is under DOJ investigation currently for inmate abuse and because of frequent inmate deaths.
She wants a perp walk and is demanding a trial the day before Super Tuesday. This shows the political motivation of this absurd overreach by a local prosecutor to prosecute a president for acts done while in office.
As I said during my recent interview with Fox News, the new Indictment against Trump in Georgia is a sprawling document that makes full use of GA’s RICO law.