Trump slams 'travesty of justice' after arrest in 2020 election case

Former US President Donald Trump arrives to depart at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after being booked at the Fulton County jail on August 24, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo/AFP)

Former US president Donald Trump decried a "travesty of justice" following his formal arrest on racketeering and conspiracy charges in Georgia, calling the case against him "election interference".

"What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," he told reporters as he prepared to fly out of Atlanta after being booked and photographed at the Fulton County Jail.

"What they're doing is election interference," he said.

Trump did not specify who he was accusing of interference, but he has routinely denounced President Joe Biden and other Democrats for allegedly obstructing his reelection campaign.

Accused of colluding with 18 co-defendants to try to overturn the 2020 election result in the southern state, Trump arrived at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail to be booked on Thursday. He left roughly 20 minutes after was released on bail.

The 77-year-old billionaire has been criminally indicted four times since April, setting the stage for a year of unprecedented drama as he tries to juggle multiple court appearances and another White House campaign.

In posts on his Truth Social platform shortly before leaving his New Jersey golf club for the flight to Atlanta, Trump said he was being arrested for "having the audacity to challenge a RIGGED & STOLLEN (sic) ELECTION." 

Mugshot of former President Donald Trump on Aug. 24, 2023, after he surrendered and was booked at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.

"This is yet another SAD DAY IN AMERICA!" he added.

Trump was able to dodge having a mugshot taken during his previous arrests this year: in New York on charges of paying hush money to an adult actress, in Florida for mishandling top secret government documents, and in Washington on charges of conspiring to upend his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The arrest comes one day after Trump spurned a televised debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, featuring eight of his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination – all of whom lag well behind him in the polls.

Co-defendants surrendering

A tight security perimeter was set up for Trump's booking at the Fulton County Jail, which is under investigation for a slew of inmate deaths and deplorable conditions.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney who filed the sweeping racketeering case, had set a deadline of noon (1600 GMT) on Friday for Trump and the other 18 defendants to surrender.

Trump and 11 others have turned themselves in so far. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered on Thursday and was released on $100,000 bond.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump's personal lawyer when he was in the White House and vigorously pushed the claims that Trump had won the 2020 election, was booked and released on Wednesday.

John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who is accused of drawing up a scheme to submit a slate of Trump electors to Congress from Georgia instead of the legitimate Biden ones, has also been booked and released.

Court dates in the election race

A few dozen supporters of the former Republican president gathered outside the jail, including Sharon Anderson, who spent the night in her car.

"I think this is a political persecution, and now that's turned into a political prosecution," Anderson told AFP news agency.

Trump is the first US president in history to face criminal charges.

His various trials, if they take place next year, may coincide with the Republican presidential primary season, which begins in January, and the campaign for the November 2024 White House election.

Special counsel Jack Smith has proposed a January 2024 start date for Trump's trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the last election that culminated in the January 6, 2021 incidents.

Trump's attorneys have countered with a suggested start date well after the election – April 2026.

Willis, the Georgia district attorney, initially proposed that the racketeering case begin in March next year, the same month Trump is scheduled to go on trial in New York on charges of paying hush money to adult actress Stormy Daniels.

On Thursday, after one of the defendants asked for a speedy trial, she proposed that it begin for all 19 in October of this year, a move met with an immediate objection from Trump's lawyers.

The Florida case, in which Trump is accused of taking secret government documents as he left the White House and refusing to return them, is scheduled to begin in May.


Source: TRT