Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV
With 98 pages, if you rolled the thing up, you could use it as a club, and if you swung it hard enough, you could put a grown man on the ground. The word for both the indictment and the Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney who brought it and will try its charges in court is formidable. They are all historic, the indictments of a former president and others for committing crimes both federal and state, but this one seems somehow more personal.
It’s as if the state of Georgia and the persons on the grand jury and District Attorney Fani Willis are saying, “you don’t get to come down here and violate our laws just because you lost an election.” And to the local Republican officials indicted along with Donald John Trump and Rudolph William Louis Giuliani and John Charles Eastman and Mark Randall Meadows and the rest of them, the indictment is saying, “you don’t get to go along with them and break our laws just because you picked up the phone one day and someone called you from Washington D.C. and asked you to join the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.”
The big difference between the Georgia indictment and the federal one brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in Washington, D.C. is that because of the way the federal laws are written, the D.C. indictment makes it seem like Defendant Trump got together with six other unindicted co-conspirators and set out to do two things: to obstruct and interfere with the certification of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and and attempt to deprive American citizens of their right to vote and have their votes accurately counted.
The federal indictment alleges that they did that, and it lays out the acts in the conspiracy necessary to prove that the federal laws, as written, were violated. As a so-called “talking indictment,” it tells the story of the conspiracy in scenes and uses quotes and paraphrases to illustrate the story behind the conspiracy. It is an extremely effective way of listing the laws and explaining how they were broken by Defendant Trump and his unindicted co-conspirators.
On the other hand, the Georgia indictment, in addition to charging Trump’s 18 co-conspirators, charges them with forming a “criminal enterprise” at the behest of the then-president of the United States and goes into excruciating detail to outline the steps taken in their conspiracy to overthrow the election of 2020 by engaging in multiple criminal and some non-criminal acts in furtherance of that goal.
It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but somehow, the Georgia indictment is more damning than the federal one. It reaches further down into the conspiracy and charges more people with participating in it, and the Georgia indictment shows in a way that the federal indictment doesn’t how the crimes committed by Defendant Trump and his co-conspirators were part of a larger effort involving crimes committed in other states to overturn the election. The crimes listed in the indictment were part of a deep and wide-reaching penetration of our entire electoral process, including but not limited to attempting to interfere with the certification of electoral votes.
The indictment lists 161 “acts of racketeering activity and overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy,” as part of just count one. The 161 figure is misleading, however, because many “acts” in that section involve multiple actions within a single “act,” such as co-conspirators making phone calls to one another to coordinate the “act” in question. Many individual crimes were committed by multiple people as part of the larger criminal enterprise. Trump alone is charged with 13 counts. But it’s down in the bowels of the indictment where the breadth of the criminal conspiracy is illustrated.
Three people, for example, were indicted for the crime of attempting to influence in a single witness, Ruby Freeman, the Fulton County election worker who Defendant Trump alleged had taken “suitcases” of votes for Biden into the State Farm Arena where votes were being counted and “stuffed ballot boxes…awarding at least 18,000 votes to Joseph R. Biden on November 3, 2020.”
It’s difficult to put into words the horrors visited upon Ruby Freeman as part of the conspiracy to get her to make false statements regarding what she did on the night votes were counted. We already know from her testimony before the January 6 Committee that Trump’s false statements alleging that she committed crimes as an election worker made her change residences, caused her to get multiple death threats, and ruined her life. But reading the section of the indictment about her is like reading scenes from a Russian novel set in the days of Stalin. I’ll try to sum it up here:
Three people—Stephen Lee, Harrison Floyd, and Trevian Kutti—conspired over two days to influence Ruby Freeman and convince her to give false testimony about what she did at the State Farm Arena on election night. On Jan. 3, 2021, they made a total of 11 phone calls attempting to contact her, leaving text messages for her, or calling each other. All the calls are listed under one “act” in the conspiracy. On Jan. 4, they made 10 more phone calls amongst themselves to arrange the attempt to influence Ruby Freeman. Also on Jan. 4, Trevian Kutti, a former publicist for the rapper formerly known as Kayne West, flew from Chicago to Atlanta to meet with the others. Kutti went from the airport to Ruby Freeman’s home, and unable to contact her, falsely told a neighbor she was a “crisis manager” attempting to “help” Freeman.
Later that day, she was able to reach Freeman on the phone and told her, again falsely, that she was in danger, and Kutti could “help” her. Freeman was apparently afraid to meet with Kutti at her home, so they agreed to meet at a local precinct of the Cobb County Police, so that Freeman would feel safe. Joined by Harrison Floyd by telephone, the two attempted to get Freeman to give false statements in writing and to give false testimony at an official proceeding (apparently a hearing) in Fulton County by falsely telling her she needed “protection” and that they were there to “help” her. The conversation lasted approximately an hour.
This was an election worker, remember, who had been accused by the President of the United State of passing votes on a flash drive as if it was a container of crack cocaine. The purported flash drive was actually a mint given to Ruby Freeman by her daughter.
It would take me several tens of thousands of words to describe what’s in the rest of the indictment. In all, the indictment alleges 41 counts of criminal activity. The counts include solicitation of a public official to break his oath of office—Defendant Trump himself is charged with at least one count of violating this law. There are counts alleging that Giuliani, Trump, Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Ray Stallings, Michael Roman and others conspired to “commit impersonating a public officer” in connection with the fake elector scheme.
There are counts that Trump and several others conspired to “commit forgery in the first degree,” also connected to convincing people in Georgia to sign fake electoral ballots. There are multiple counts against Trump and others for conspiring to “commit filing false documents,” also part of the fake elector scheme. There are charges of “criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings” against former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. And more charges of making false statements and writings, and charges of solicitations of a public officer to violate his oath, all of them against Trump, Giuliani and Eastman…and I’m down to just count 29 of 41.
The indictment goes on…and on and on. There are charges against the Sidney “The Kraken” Powell for conspiring to get others who were not legally entitled to possess them to enter election offices and gain access to ballots and voting machines—a charge that Defendant Trump had made repeatedly against Democrats. The indictment charges Powell and others with conspiracy to commit “computer theft” and “computer trespass” for removing voter data from Dominion Voting Systems machines used in voting, another charge Trump made against Democrats.
And of course the indictment charges Defendant Trump with “solicitation of the violation of the oath of a public officer” on September 17, 2021 by trying to get Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to decertify the election and declare Donald Trump the winner nearly seven months after Joe Biden had been inaugurated.
It is jaw-dropping to read the list of the criminal acts committed by 19 defendants, including the then-President of the United States. The indictment describes a criminal enterprise that had one goal: to change the election results in the state of Georgia and other states so that Donald J. Trump would be declared the winner of an election he did not win.
As I said before, it’s the kind of stuff you might read in a Russian novel or reporting from the capital of a third-world nation just overtaken by a coup, as happened recently in Niger.
But it happened right here in our country, in the United States of America, and indictments like this one, and the federal indictment of Trump in Washington D.C., and the trials that result from them are what now stand between us and a totalitarian future endorsed and voted for by more than 70 million of our fellow countrymen and women.
As voters, we are on the barricades defending our nation and the democracy we have depended on for 234 years to govern us from a movement that wants to take it all away. It’s going to be momentous to watch what comes out of these amazing indictments, but it will be even more momentous to vote on November 5, 2024.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. You can read his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com. We encourage our readers to get a subscription.