Trump booked in Georgia on charges he tried to overturn the state's 2020 election result
Former U.S. president was fingerprinted, had his mug shot taken
Former U.S. president Donald Trump surrendered Thursday on charges that he illegally schemed to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia, a brisk 20-minute booking that yielded a historic first: a mug shot of a former U.S. president.
Trump — inmate no. P01135809, according to Fulton County Jail records — was released on $200,000 US bond and headed back to the airport for his return flight home to New Jersey.
A booking photo released by authorities showed Trump, wearing a navy suit and red tie, looking at the camera, his brows furrowed as he stares into the lens.
Trump's surrender to law enforcement authorities has become by now a familiar election-season routine in a way that belies the unprecedented spectacle of a former president being booked, in four different cities, on felony criminal charges.
But his Atlanta appearance was different from others, requiring him to surrender at a problem-plagued jail — and not in a liberal bastion like New York or Washington, D.C., but rather in the heart of a battleground state vital to the 2024 presidential election.
Trump, 77, landed in Atlanta shortly after 7 p.m. ET and was driven, through the city's rush-hour traffic, to jail for the booking process. Wearing his signature white shirt and red tie, he offered a wave and thumbs up as he descended the steps of his private plane.
He completed the process, providing officials as is customary with his physical measurements: six feet three inches tall, 215 pounds, and strawberry or blond hair.
Before getting back on his plane after the booking, Trump repeated his claim that the prosecution — along with prosecutors in the other indictments he faces — is politically motivated.
"What has taken place here is a travesty of justice," he told reporters. "I did nothing wrong, and everybody knows it."
Trump's former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was Trump's personal lawyer, have already been booked on charges related to the same case — including under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a statute normally associated with gang members and organized crime.
Giuliani surrendered on Wednesday and posed for a mug shot.
Meadows, who had sought to avoid having to turn himself in while he seeks to move the case to federal court, turned himself in on Thursday. Bond was set at $100,000 US.
The criminal cases have spurred a succession of bookings and arraignments, with Trump making brief court appearances before returning to the 2024 campaign trail. He's turned the appearances into campaign events amid a far lighter schedule than his rivals, with staff delighting in wall-to-wall media coverage that has included news helicopters tracking his every move.
The campaign has also used the appearances to solicit fundraising contributions from his supporters as aides paint the charges as part of a politically motivated effort to damage his re-election chances. As Trump was en route from New Jersey to Atlanta, his campaign sent a message saying, "I'm writing to you from Trump Force One, on my way to Atlanta where I will be ARRESTED despite having committed NO CRIME."
Following his appearance, Trump returned to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, firing off his first message in 2 1/2 years.
He posted a photo of his mug shot and the words, "Election interference. Never surrender!" along with a link to his website, which directs to a fundraising site.
It was Trump's first post since Jan. 8, 2021, when Twitter suspended his account indefinitely, citing fears he would incite additional violence following the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol building.
His account was reinstated last November shorty after Elon Musk took over the company, but Trump had refrained from tweeting, insisting that he was happier on his own Truth Social site, which he launched during the ban.
District Attorney Fani Willis has given all of the defendants until Friday afternoon to turn themselves in at the main Fulton County Jail. On Thursday, her office proposed an Oct. 23 trial date, though the complexities of the 19-person case — and potential scheduling conflicts with other Trump prosecutions — would appear to make it all but impossible. The date seemed to be a response to early legal manoeuvring by at least one defendant, Kenneth Chesebro, who requested a speedy trial.
Just ahead of his expected surrender, Trump hired a new lead lawyer for the Georgia case.
Prominent Atlanta criminal defence lawyer Steve Sadow took the place of another high-profile attorney, Drew Findling, who had represented Trump as recently as Monday when his bond terms were negotiated. But by Thursday, Findling was no longer part of the team, according to a person with knowledge of the change who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Sadow, who has represented a rapper, Gunna, who pleaded guilty last year in a racketeering case also brought by Willis, said in a statement that "the president should never have been indicted. He is innocent of all the charges brought against him."
"We look forward to the case being dismissed or, if necessary, an unbiased, open-minded jury finding the president not guilty," he added. "Prosecutions intended to advance or serve the ambitions and careers of political opponents of the president have no place in our justice system."
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He said in a social media post this week that he was being prosecuted for what he described in capital letters as a "perfect phone call," in which he asked the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to help him "find 11,780 votes" for him to overturn his loss in the state to Biden.
With files from Reuters