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Donald Trump is prepared to face a potential fourth criminal indictment as soon as this week as the grand jury in Georgia hearing evidence of alleged meddling in the 2020 presidential election nears a final decision.
During a campaign speech last week in New Hampshire, Trump said he should “have four [indictments] by sometime next week”, acknowledging that the growing number of criminal charges will take a toll on his 2024 presidential campaign.
Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, is expected to seek indictments in the case as early as this week, according to media reports, as local authorities have set up barricades outside the county’s courthouse in Atlanta.
There was a brief stir on Monday when Reuters said a docket report on the Fulton County court website suggested the state was set to charge Trump with counts including racketeering, false statements and conspiracy. The docket report later became unavailable, Reuters said, and the DA’s office said an indictment had not yet been returned.
Willis could seek charges against a number of defendants beyond Trump, and has been arranging for witnesses to testify before the grand jury, CNN reported.
In social media posts, Geoff Duncan, Georgia’s former Republican lieutenant-governor, and George Chidi, an Atlanta-based journalist, on Saturday confirmed they had been asked to testify on Tuesday.
“The work is accomplished,” Willis told WXIA-TV, a local television station, last month. “We’ve been working for two-and-a-half years. We’re ready to go.”
New charges out of Georgia would pile on to a string of federal and state legal challenges against Trump, the first former US president to face criminal charges.
The investigation has centred around the efforts of Trump and his allies to swing Georgia for the former president in the 2020 vote, after Joe Biden scored a narrow victory in the southern state.
After the vote, Trump called Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to find 11,780 votes in order for the ex-president to win in the state. Raffensperger refused, and Biden ultimately secured the White House.
On Saturday, Trump peppered his social media platform, Truth Social, with posts decrying the fourth criminal investigation into his conduct. “How can they charge me in Georgia?” he wrote. “The phone call was PERFECT. WITCH HUNT!”
CNN reported on Sunday that Trump’s legal team allegedly breached a rural Georgia county’s voting system in the days before January 6 2021 in order to try to find evidence of widespread fraud.
Former Texas congressman Will Hurd told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday: “I think this is an example of how this is not about the First Amendment. This is about a president trying to overturn an election and creating a conspiracy.”
Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by US attorney-general Merrick Garland to oversee investigations involving Trump, obtained a separate indictment in federal court against the former president this month for alleged attempts to block the results of the 2020 election, which culminated in a mob of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol on January 6 2021.
According to the federal indictment, Georgia was among the states where the former president and six co-conspirators allegedly sought to arrange for fake representatives to cast votes in the electoral college.
Smith has also brought criminal charges against Trump for mishandling of classified government documents, while the Manhattan district attorney has charged the ex-president for falsifying business accounts.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of the cases brought against him so far, accusing prosecutors of pursuing a political vendetta in an effort to sideline him from the 2024 race.
Patrick Labat, Fulton County sheriff, recently told reporters local enforcement agencies were “ready” to handle a potential indictment in Georgia, adding he and Willis’s office had received “dozens” of threats, which in one case led to an arrest months ago.
Labat added that if Georgia were to indict Trump, he would be treated like any other defendant. “Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices,” he said. “So it doesn’t matter your status, we have mug shots ready for you.”
The Department of Justice’s charges against Trump address alleged meddling in the 2020 polls on national scale, but they do include evidence that may overlap with a potential Georgia indictment, raising questions about how the two cases would play out in parallel.
An intricate series of trial dates in the criminal cases against Trump will be set by courts across the US as the country approaches next year’s presidential vote and Republicans hold a series of primaries to determine their party’s nominee.
A trial in the classified documents case in Miami is set to begin in May 2024, while Smith last week requested the DoJ’s 2020 election trial start on January 2 next year. Trump’s lawyers, who did not respond to a request for comment on Smith’s filing, have previously pushed back against moving so quickly to trial.
Additional reporting by Alex Rogers