Donald Trump

Trump and 18 Others Charged With Election-Related Crimes in Georgia

Plus: The beauty of microschools, the futility of link taxes, and more...


Latest Trump indictment alleges "racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia's presidential election result." The last of the expected criminal indictments against former President Donald Trump has dropped. This one, which comes out of Fulton County, Georgia, relates to Trump's attempts to influence Georgia officials to invalidate the results of the 2020 presidential election, as well as Trump and his allies' wider scheme to publicize and prove voter fraud claims and to assemble a spate of alternate Electoral College electors who would cast votes for Trump rather than Joe Biden.

Trump and his associates are charged with 41 criminal counts overall, including conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to defraud the state, and violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Thirteen of these counts are applied to Trump, who is charged with a RICO violation, three counts of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, two counts of making false statements and writings, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit filing false documents, and filing false documents.

Eighteen people—including Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, and Sidney Powell—were indicted along with Trump yesterday. Giuliani, who was serving as Trump's personal lawyer during the time period in question, faces 13 charges, including violation of Georgia's RICO Act, three counts of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, and three counts of false statements and writings. Powell—who filed a number of lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results—faces seven charges, and Meadows, Trump's chief of staff in 2020, faces two.

"The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia's legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia's presidential election result," said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis at a press conference Monday night. Willis said she intends to try Trump and his 18 co-defendants as a group and will ask for a trial date within six months

Willis' case covers some of the same territory as the recent federal indictment against Trump but includes more Georgia-specific allegations of election meddling.

The indictment covers Trump's January 2, 2021, call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged Raffensperger to "find" the votes needed to deliver Trump a victory. It also includes claims related to lesser-known schemes, including an allegation that Trump associates stole data from voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia, in an attempt to find evidence of voter fraud.

"Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost [the 2020 election] and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump," alleges the indictment. "That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states." Elements of this alleged racketeering activity—committed by Trump and/or his lawyers, staff, and associates—include:

• making false statements about election fraud to a Georgia General Assembly hearing in order to "persuade Georgia legislators to reject lawful electoral votes" and soliciting lawmakers "instead to unlawfully appoint their own presidential electors for the purpose of casting electoral votes for Donald Trump";

• making false statements to the governor, the secretary of state, and the state speaker of the House of Representatives and encouraging them "to violate their oaths" to the Georgia and U.S. constitutions "by unlawfully changing the outcome" of the election in Trump's favor;

• recruiting people "to convene and cast false Electoral College votes" and distributing false documents for this purpose;

• falsely accusing Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman of election crimes;

• soliciting U.S. Department of Justice officials "to make false statements to [Fulton County's] government officials";

• soliciting Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes from Fulton County, Georgia;

• conspiring "to unlawfully access secure voting equipment and voter data … including ballot images, voting equipment software, and personal voter information";

• filing false documents, making false statements, and committing perjury "in furtherance of and to cover up the conspiracy."

Trump and the other defendants are accused of 161 overt acts in furtherance of their "criminal enterprise." Here's a small sampling:

Act 24: "On or about the 3rd day of December 2020, RUDOLPH WILLIAM LOUIS
GIULIANI committed the felony offense of FALSE STATEMENTS AND WRITINGS, in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, in Fulton County, Georgia, by knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully making at least one of the following false statements and representations to members of the Georgia Senate present at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee meeting: 1. That at least 96,600 mail-in ballots were counted in the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia, despite there being no record of those ballots having been returned to a county elections office; 2. That Dominion Voting Systems equipment used in the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Antrim County, Michigan, mistakenly recorded 6,000 votes for Joseph R. Biden when the votes were actually cast for Donald John Trump."

Act 26: "On or about the 3rd day of December 2020, DONALD JOHN TRUMP caused to be tweeted from the Twitter account @RealDonaldTrump, Wow! Blockbuster testimony taking place right now in Georgia. Ballot stuffing by Dems when Republicans were forced to leave the large counting room. Plenty more coming, but this alone leads to an easy win of the State!"

Act 33: "On or about the 6th day of December 2020, SIDNEY KATHERINE POWELL entered into a written engagement agreement with Sullivan Strickler LLC, a forensic data firm located in Fulton County, Georgia, for the performance of computer forensic collections and analytics on Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Michigan and elsewhere. The unlawful breach of election equipment in Coffee County, Georgia, was subsequently performed under this agreement."

Act 78: "On or about the 14th day of December 2020, RAY STALLINGS SMITH III and DAVID JAMES SHAFER encouraged certain individuals present at the December 14, 2020, meeting of Trump presidential elector nominees in Fulton County, Georgia, to sign the document titled CERTIFICATE OF THE VOTES OF THE 2020 ELECTORS FROM GEORGIA."

Act 100: "On or about the 30th day of December 2020, DONALD JOHN TRUMP caused to be tweeted from the Twitter account @RealDonaldTrump, Hearings from Atlanta on the Georgia Election overturn now being broadcast. Check it out. @OANN @newsmax and many more. @BrianKempGA should resign from office. He is an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG! Also won the other Swing States."

Among the 18 Trump co-defendants are several lawyers involved in helping Trump try to stay in power after the 2020 election. This includes John Eastman, who—along with Giuliani—urged Georgia state senators to disregard the 2020 election results and appoint pro-Trump electors, and Kenneth Chesebro, who helped Guliani and Eastman push the fake-elector scheme in six states including Georgia.

A handful of Georgia Republican officials and operatives face charges. David Shafer, former chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, faces eight counts related to his organizing and chairing of the Trump elector meeting in December 2020. Shafer "also served as an elector and stated during the meeting that the electors were meeting and voting purely to preserve their legal remedy in the event a election challenge prevailed in court," notes The Washington Post. Shawn Still, who is now a Georgia state senator and formerly served as finance chairman for the Republican Party of Georgia, was also charged for his role in facilitating the fake elector meeting.

Former Coffee County elections supervisor Misty Hampton (also known as Misty Martin) is charged with making and disseminating a video that purported to show how voting machines could be warped. "Surveillance footage shows that Hampton was at the elections office on Jan. 7, 2021, when computer forensics contractors working with [Scott] Hall and pro-Trump lawyers copied the county's election software," notes the Post.

An activist recorded Hall—who also faces charges—"saying in a telephone call that he had arranged for a plane to ferry people to Coffee County and accompanied them as they 'went in there and imaged every hard drive of every piece of equipment' and scanned ballots," the Post reports. "Hall claimed on the call that they obtained necessary permissions from authorities."

Illinois pastor Stephen Cliffgard Lee was charged with attempting to influence witnesses, after "traveling to the home of Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County, Georgia, election worker, and speaking to her neighbor," states the indictment. Lee's intent was "to knowingly engage in misleading conduct toward Ruby Freeman, by purporting to offer her help, and with intent to influence her testimony in an official proceeding" concerning the election, it alleges.

The indictment links together a lot of related and relatively unrelated conduct from a bunch of disparate people, some acting directly in concert with Trump and his legal team and some much further removed. This is the troubling thing about RICO charges, which are popular among state and federal prosecutors.

RICO lets prosecutors lump together a bunch of people under one prosecution by defining their individual efforts as, together, constituting a racketeering enterprise. Under this umbrella, defendants can face more severe penalties than they otherwise would for individual acts, and conduct that may not be strictly illegal on its own can be defined as evidence of criminal activity.

"Intended as a weapon against organized crime, RICO has instead been turned against labor unions, abortion protesters, and investment firms," Reason pointed out in a March 1990 piece about federal RICO statutes. The vague contours of the federal RICO statute and its state analogs allow it to be used against all sorts of legal businesses or loosely-related groups of people while making defenses against RICO charges difficult.

Ironically, one of the people now indicted in Georgia on RICO charges—Rudy Giuliani—"made RICO famous in the 1980s," as His RICOing of alleged white-collar criminals completely confounded the purpose, text, and history of the statute. But his cases made headlines."


The beauty of microschools. Christian Science Monitor takes a deep dive into this educational trend:

Ask a dozen microschool leaders to describe their schools, and you'll likely receive a dozen slightly different responses: Montessori-inspired, nature-focused, project-based, faith-oriented, child-led, or some combination of other attributes. They may exist independently, as part of a provider network, or in partnership with another entity such as an employer or a faith organization. Their schedules vary, too. Some follow a typical academic calendar, while others operate year-round, and some allow students to attend part time.

In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all definition for microschools. But, in general, they're intentionally small learning environments. They often serve fewer than 30 students total and operate as learning centers to support home-schooled students or as accredited or unaccredited private schools. Their exact designations differ based on state laws.

"What I love about microschools is that [they're] kind of providing this middle ground between public school or home schooling," says Dalena Wallace, founder and president of Wichita Innovative Schools and Educators, a support network for alternative education models.

More here.


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In hopes of reviving the floundering newspaper industry, Congress is looking to an Australian‐​inspired system of mandatory bargaining that would force Big Tech to cross‐​subsidize Big Ink. However, the early returns from Australia's "link tax" regime—as well as the history of Congress's last attempt to protect newspapers from competition in 1970—show that the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) could have serious negative consequences for both newspapers and consumers. The JCPA would neither promote industry competition nor preserve legacy newspapers. It would propel further industry consolidation and reward rent seeking from tech corporations and hedge funds. Furthermore, it would create a novel "quasi‐​property right" in information that could tear apart the internet, destroy much of the value of the online news ecosystem, and deprive consumers of access to news and information. Rather than creating perverse incentives, policymakers would better serve the public interest by looking to emergent forms of new news media as a substitute for legacy modes of journalism.

More here.


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