HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Former President Donald Trump and 18 others were indicted in Fulton County, Georgia Monday on racketeering charges stemming from alleged efforts to overturn election results in the 2020 presidential race.
It’s the fourth time Trump has been indicted this year, including for alleged hush money payments in New York, and on federal charges related to retaining classified documents and for alleged efforts to affect the certification of election results on Jan .6, 2020.
News 19 political analysts Jay Town and David Person spoke about the indictments on Tuesday and how they could affect the 2024 Presidential Election.
Jay Town, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama in the Trump Administration, said he doesn’t see the federal Jan. 6 indictments or the Fulton County indictments as particularly strong cases. Town told News 19 the Fulton County indictment has jurisdiction issues – including charging conduct in Washington D.C. for example.
Political analyst David Person, who consulted on a number of Democratic campaigns said the indictments were necessary to address Trump’s post-election conduct, including targeting some election workers by name in an effort to change the results. Person said the suggestion the charges are politically motivated is “laughable.
“All of the things he has said and done publicly point the finger at him,” Person said. “This is not about politics this is about someone who lost an election, who did not want to concede he lost and who decided to use extra and illegal means to undo quote unquote the loss. Someone who tried to bully and intimidate election officials at varying levels to try and steal an election. That’s what this is about.
“Someone who had surrogates who were lying to lawmakers and election officials to try to do his bidding, someone who was at the center of a criminal enterprise to create fake electors to send to Congress.”
Town, who has endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said the courts will have a lot of pre-trial issues to sort out in the election cases.
“I don’t think either of those indictments are particularly strong. Because there are some many constitutional issues that need to be handled by a court of competent jurisdiction,” Town said, suggesting those issues would likely be sorted out in federal court. “Determining whether or not attorney-client privileged conversations can be criminal. Whether or not civil disobedience even false speech is protected speech – in the context of ‘Go find me 12,000 votes’ for instance.”
Town said the Mar-a-Lago indictment could pose the biggest court challenge to Trump.
“It’s a very strong, a very damning indictment, if those counts can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “So even if Trump’s legal woes go away in any of these January 6th-type cases, or election fraud cases, the Mar-a-Lago indictment is still out there, there is still a May trial date and those are very serious charges that are not particularly difficult to prove.”
News 19 asked Person what effect the indictments are likely to have on the Trump 2024 presidential bid.
Person said that even though Trump lost a civil lawsuit that alleged he’d committed sexual abuse, he kept his lead. He said the indictments and the fact that Republicans appear to be the ones providing the information to prosecutors in the documents and election cases, has also not hurt his standing among Republican voters.
“It makes me think if none of that has dissuaded them by now of being Trump voters, then there’s nothing that will,” Person said.
Town said while Trump enjoys strong support, the present cases may ultimately derail his chances.
“I actually believe that the American people are not going to be mired in the chaos that surrounds Donald Trump,” Town said. “Now there is a huge swath of the population that doesn’t care what he does, they’ll still support him. But that’s not going to be enough to win a general election. And those independent voters or those moderate voters – who would not let someone, even if they didn’t think they did it, who’d been indicted four times, watch their child for an hour — they’re not going to give them the keys to the white house.
Town said prosecutors should have considered declining to prosecute the election cases. He argues it has produced real distrust among many Americans about the motives behind charging Trump. That is having an effect, Town said, on the ability of the FBI and Justice Department to do their jobs in other cases around the country.
Both News 19 analysts also said they are hopeful the charged rhetoric around the Trump cases won’t lead to election-related violence.