Plus, why it matters in Clayton County

Former President Donald Trump, along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and 17 others—participants in a bogus Gold Dome meeting to try and submit a false slate of votes to the Electoral College in the 2020 Presidential Election—have been indicted on a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charge by a Fulton County grand jury.

They and another 30 unindicted co-conspirators “and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury” allegedly “constituted a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating a public officer, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury.”

According to the indictment the alleged criminal enterprise, an “ongoing organization whose members and associates functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise” in “Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, in other states, including, but not limited to, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia.”

Watch the announcement:

The methods the group is alleged to have used include:

  • False statements to and solicitation of state legislatures
    • Includes Georgia General Assembly hearings on December 3, December 10, and December 30, 2020, where several defendants allegedly “made false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020 presidential election….to persuade Georgia legislators to reject lawful electoral votes cast by the duly elected qualified presidential electors from Georgia” and “corruptly solicited Georgia legislators instead to unlawfully appoint their own presidential electors for the purpose. ofcasting electoral votes for Donald Trump.” Similar attempts allegedly were made in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in November and December 2020, according to the indictment.
  • False statements to and solicitation of high-ranking state officials
    • The indictment alleges members of the enterprise, “including several of the Defendants, made false statements in Fulton County and elsewhere in the State of Georgia to Georgia officials, including the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to violate their oaths to the Georgia Constitution and to the United States Constitution by unlawfully changing the outcome of the November 3, 2020 presidential election in Georgia in favor of Donald Trump,” and that members also “made false statements to and solicited state officials in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.”
  • Creation and distribution of false Electoral College documents
    • “Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, created false Electoral College documents and recruited individuals to convene and cast false Electoral College votes at the Georgia State Capitol, in Fulton County, on December 14, 2020,” then “transmitted the votes to the President of the United States Senate [Vice President Mike Pence], the Archivist of the United States [the National Archives indicates the acting archivist at the time was Debra Steidel Wall], the Georgia Secretary of State [Brad Raffensperger], and the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [Timothy Batten].” The indictment alleges the false documents were “intended to disrupt and delay the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, in order to unlawfully change the outcome of the November 3, 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.” It also alleges “similar schemes” in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • Harassment and intimidation of Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman
    • Members of the enterprise, “including several of the Defendants,” are alleged to have “falsely accused Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman of committing election crimes in Fulton County, Georgia. These false accusations were repeated to Georgia legislators and other Georgia officials in an effort to persuade them to unlawfully change the outcome” of the election in Trump’s favor. “In furtherance of this scheme,” the indictment alleges, “members of the enterprise traveled from out of state to harass Freeman, intimidate her, and solicit her to falsely confess to election crimes that she did not commit.”
  • Solicitation of high-ranking United States Department of Justice officials
    • “Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, corruptly solicited high-ranking United States Department of Justice officials to make false statements to government officials in Fulton County, Georgia, including the Governor [Brian Kemp], the Speaker of the House of Representatives [the late David Ralston], and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate [Butch Miller]. In one instance, Donald Trump stated to the Acting United States Attorney General [Byung J. ‘”BJay” Pak, who subsequently resigned], ‘Just say that the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.'”
  • Solicitation of the Vice President of the United States
    • “Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, corruptly solicited the Vice President of the United States to violate the United States Constitution and federal law by unlawfully rejecting Electoral College votes cast in Fulton County, Georgia, by the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from Georgia” and “corruptly solicited the Vice President to reject votes cast by the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from several other states”
  • Unlawful breach of election equipment in Georgia and elsewhere
    • “Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, corruptly conspired in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere to unlawfully access secure voting equipment and voter data. In Georgia, members of the enterprise stole data, including ballot images, voting equipment software, and personal voter information. The stolen data was then distributed to other members of the enterprise, including members in other states.”
  • Obstructive acts in furtherance of the conspiracy and the cover up
    • “Members of the enterprise, including several of the Defendants, filed false documents, made false statements to government investigators, and committed perjury in judicial proceedings in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere in furtherance of and to coverup the conspiracy.”

The indictment comes after Giuliani admitted to lying about two Fulton County election workers who he claimed had tampered with ballots during the 2020 Presidential election. Those false allegations, as well as Trump’s January 2, 2021 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, drew national attention during Congressional hearings on the 9/11 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last month, the D.C. Bar called for Giuliani, a lawyer, to be disbarred.

Here’s a copy of the full indictment:

In response to the indictment, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, issued a one-line press release Tuesday morning:

“The most basic principles of a strong democracy are accountability and respect for the Constitution and rule of law. You either have it, or you don’t.”

Raffensperger’s response to Trump’s fishing expedition for 11,780 votes when Joseph Biden gained enough Electoral College votes to win the White House—after Clayton County’s returns put Biden over the top—was, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

Raffensperger and his chief operating officer, Gabriel Sterling, testified before the January 6 Select Committee about Trump’s attempts to sway the election results.

Key events

According to the indictment, these are “overt ac[s] in furtherance of the conspiracy” alleged to have taken place “on or around” the following dates:

Oct. 31, 2020: Trump allegedly “discussed a draft speech with unindicted co-conspirator Individual l, whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, that falsely declared victory and falsely claimed voter fraud..”

Nov. 4, 2020: Trump “made a nationally televised speech falsely declaring victory in the 2020 presidential election.”

Nov. 15, 2020: Giuliani “placed a telephone call to unindicted co-conspirator Individual 2, whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, and left an approximately 83-second-long voicemail message for unindicted co-conspirator Individual 2 making statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020, election in Fulton County, Georgia.”

Nov. 19, 2020: On or around this date, Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, “and unindicted co-conspirator Individual 3, whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, appeared at a press conference at the Republican National Committee Headquarters on behalf of DONALD JOHN TRUMP and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (the “Trump Campaign”) and made false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Nov. 20, 2020: Then-Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer “sent an e-mail to unindicted co-conspirator Individual 4, whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, and other individuals. In the e-mail, DAVID JAMES SHAFER stated that SCOTT GRAHAM HALL, a Georgia bail bondsman, “has been looking into the election on behalf of the President at the request of David Bossie” and asked unindicted co-conspirator Individual 4 to exchange contact information with SCOTT GRAHAM HALL and to “help him as needed.” A Scott G. Hall is listed on online incorporation records registered with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office for ABC South Bonding Company, Anytime Bail Bonding of Dougherty, Inc., Anytime Bail Bonding of McDuffie, Inc., and Anytime Bail Bonding, Inc.

Of interest to local politicos: This appears to be the same Scott Hall of Evans, GA, just outside Augusta, who gave $2,500 to Janice Scott for her District 4 race in 2022. Scott also was backed by former sheriff and convicted felon Victor Hill, who gave the Scott campaign $500.

A company through which Hill associate and fellow convicted felon Mitzi Bickers was convicted of having laundered money in the Atlanta City Hall bid-rigging scandal, Pirouette, ran the Scott campaign.

Also on November 20, 2020, Trump and Mark Meadows allegedly “met with Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate Michael Shirkey, Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives Lee Chatfield, and other Michigan legislators in the Oval Office at the White House,” and Trump allegedly “made false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020 presidential election in Michigan. [Giuliani] joined the meeting by telephone.”

November 21, 2020: Meadows allegedly texted U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, “Can you send me the number for the speaker and the leader of PA Legislature. POTUS wants to chat with them.”

The list continues, enumerating 161 separate acts in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy.

Why was Clayton County so important on Election Night?

While the indictment says nothing about Trump-campaign-directed activity in neighboring Clayton County, The Clayton Crescent documented several unusual incidents at the Clayton County Elections Center (“The Bunker”) involving representatives of the Trump campaign, the Republican National Lawyers Association, and dozens of election observers who reportedly had statewide credentials but who did not wear identifying badges and who refused to identify themselves to The Clayton Crescent when asked.

November 3, 2020: Republican National Lawyers Association President Manuel Iglesias (second from left) makes a phone call while standing between two rooms where Clayton County Elections and Registration officials were tallying ballots. Iglesias and a Trump Campaign official were in The Bunker. Iglesias later alleged improprieties took place but refused to provide evidence to support his claim or to describe what he had seen. The unidentified woman in black, allegedly a GOP election observer, later stated she was about to get “thrown out,” then attempted to shoot video of the tally room from each door, defying an election officials and a Clayton County Police officer. (Photo: Robin Kemp/The Clayton Crescent)

Some of those observers conferred with a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, Manuel Iglesias, who had served during Trump’s transition into the White House and who had worked with Republican Presidential transition teams dating back to the Reagan Administration in 1980.

When Christina Pletten of the Norwegian news site Aftenposten and Robin Kemp of The Clayton Crescent asked Iglesias to talk about alleged “improper” activities the group claimed they had witnessed taking place in The Bunker, Iglesias was unwilling or unable to state specifics:

YouTube video

Iglesias, who was present at The Bunker with a representative of the David Perdue Senate campaign, had been part of the Trump Administration’s transition team for the Department of Health and Human Services, according to Steptoe and Johnson LLP, an international law firm. Here’s their complete list of Trump transition team members:

According to Iglesias’ bio on the RNLA website, “Mr. Iglesias focuses his practice on the representation of healthcare related entities and physician groups in business transactions, including buy-sell agreements, mergers and acquisitions, non-compete contracts, employment and vendor agreements and asset protection. A member of The Florida Bar and the Illinois State Bar, Mr. Iglesias has more than 25 years of experience in the business world with management consulting, venture capital and investment banking firms. He has also served as an officer and/or director for various investment banks and venture funds. A founding member of Human Rights, an organization designed to combat the lack of human rights in Cuba; Mr. Iglesias has been heavily involved with the Republican Party since 1972. During this period he has participated in multiple initiatives and campaigns including the Presidential Transition Team in 1980 and 1988, the 2002 Bush-Brogan Gubernatorial Campaign and was Chairman for Lawyers for Bush-Cheney Coalition for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties during the 2004 George W. Bush Campaign.”

Iglesias’ bio did not include the Trump administration as of press time.

In 1982, Iglesias ran against longtime U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper, a Roosevelt Democrat, in Miami’s 18th Congressional District, but lost in the Republican primary to Ricardo Nunez.

Iglesias, who as president of the RNLA called Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese “my hero” at the group’s May 15, 2017 policy conference, presented Trump White House Counsel Don McGann with an award named for Meese.

“He [McGann] has long been a leader in election law,” Iglesias said, “He has addressed us on multiple occasions as the FEC [Federal Elections Commission] commissioner and chair. In that context, he drew the ire, which makes him a local hero, of the New York Times and a lot of liberals. But throughout, Don has had the respect of even Democratic election law lawyers, such as [former Obama White House Counsel] Bob Bauer. But all that pales in what he has recently accomplished in being Donald Trump’s counsel, both for the election and currently as White House Counsel. As you all know, President Trump changed many members of the campaign staff throughout the election, made it very exciting for the media and for us, but Don was there from start to finish. And I think it’s telling that the campaign never had a significant legal problem. And for that, we thank you.”

Meese praised the RLNA for its work, “particularly over the course of the last election. I think the devotion of the Republican National Lawyers Association, particularly to the cause of election integrity, cannot be matched by any other organization in this country. And certainly, it’s a job that we have to keep up the effort on that, as there are people continually trying to play down the threats to the integrity of our electoral system that have the potential for taking place and, in many cases, from week to week we’re finding new examples of exactly that. And so that’s why—one reason why your work is so important.”

Meese also told the RNLA, “We have just gone through eight years of what I would call the most lawless administration in the history of the country,” meaning President Barack Obama’s administration. “We’ve gone through periods where the Constitution was shredded virtually every week. We’ve gone through some of the worst decisions in the history of the federal judiciary. And as you have seen just from the topics that you have been discussing today, there is much work to be done, and already the kinds of ideas and strategies that were put forward in these various panels indicate what’s ahead.”

Watch on C-SPAN.

But why Clayton?

Based on his allegations of unspecified improper election county activity, The Clayton Crescent asked Iglesias on Election Day whether his group was considering filing suit in Clayton County Superior Court. Iglesias was reluctant to comment.

The Clayton Crescent has e-mailed Iglesias, seeking comment on the RICO indictment in Fulton County, as well as on why Clayton County was prioritized for observation, and whether he and Shafer had had had any conversations about the election. We will update with any response.

Why did the GOP focus so many powerful resources—the president of the NRLA, an official with the David Perdue campaign, and a couple of dozen unidentified election observers (at least one of whom said, “Watch this, I’m going to get kicked out” and twice attempted to shoot cellphone video of ballots being counted, even after an Elections and Registration official and a Clayton County Police Officer told her to stop)—on a county that was so overwhelmingly blue, Trump had zero chance of winning it?

During a press call hosted by Public Citizen Tuesday afternoon, The Clayton Crescent asked that question of Rep. Nikema Williams and several Democratic activists. We also asked for comment about a new law passed during the last legislative session imposing an oversight board for district attorneys.

We got some interesting answers from Williams and Cliff Albright of Black Votes Matter. In particular, Williams pointed out that the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed the prosecutorial oversight law that would apply to three Democratic Black women district attorneys—including Willis and Clayton County District Attorney Tasha Mosley:

YouTube video

On Tuesday evening, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, which is based in Morrow, said it may seek a special prosecutor to investigate Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’ role in the fake electors scheme. Jones, a Woodward Academy alumnus who lives in Jackson, held a roundtable with black business owners in Forest Park several months ago. At the time, Jones dismissed a reporter’s question about the fake electors slate: “You know, nobody brings it up, except when I talk to you or other media members.”

Willis says those indicted in the RICO case have until noon on Friday, August 25 to turn themselves in. She also noted that each defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty.

McGann has asked the U.S. Northern District Court of Georgia to take over the case, arguing sovereign immunity because he was a White House official at the time. Read the filing:

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

Leave a comment