His Email Could Finally Put “Racketeer” Trump Behind Bars; DA Sends Clearest Signal: Expect Trump RICO Indictment in August
Trump’s Criminal Indictment Expected Early This August
WASHINGTON D.C [May 22, 2023] – The Atlanta prosecutor conducting a criminal investigation of Donald Trump’s efforts to affect the presidential election has sent the clearest possible signals that his criminal indictment can be expected early this August.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis just sent a letter asking area judges not to schedule proceedings during the first three weeks of August. In a second earlier letter she had asked law enforcement official to prepare for “heightened security” during that period, and “ensure that our law enforcement community is ready to protect the public.”
Nothing short of an indictment of the former president, and not simply indictments of his lower-level accomplices, would require such heightened security, and it is virtually unthinkable that she would indict those who cooperated with Trump without also indicting the ringleader and person who would benefit from any scheme to change the results of the election, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University.
He should know since, as law.com reported: “An outspoken George Washington University law professor lodged the complaint that led to an investigation the Georgia Board of Elections launched Monday into the famous phone call former President Donald Trump made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger regarding finding votes.”
Georgia’s RICO Law
Never underestimate this power of a public interest legal filing, says Banzhaf, proud that his formal criminal complaint, charging that Trump had violated as least three of Georgia’s election laws, led to this massive two-year investigation, including the rare convening of a special grand jury, subpoenas being issued for major figures including Senator Lindsey Graham, and the employment of a legal expert in RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] law.
He noted that another of his public interest filings, a three-page letter, led to an FCC ruling requiring broadcasters to make hundreds of millions of dollars of free time available for antismoking messages, and to the eventual ban on cigarette commercials.
Other filings by the law professor led to the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate former president Richard Nixon, to a congressional reprimand of former congressman Barney Frank, the discontinuance of improper prosecutions of several police officers, and other victories.
CNN, among many other media, has reported: “Atlanta-area prosecutors are considering bringing racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.”
But professor Banzhaf, whose formal legal complaint triggered the current criminal investigation in Georgia by Willis, reported this more than two years ago. At that time he published the following to explain his prediction:
Willis’ decision to investigate whether the former president might be guilty of a criminal conspiracy came as a surprise to many, but not to those familiar with her record. Indeed, she recently hired one of the country’s leading experts on state racketeering cases to help conduct the investigation; a further signal that the DA in hoping to bring a RICO case against him, says Banzhaf
Although Willis is already very familiar with Georgia’s far reaching RICO statute as a result of winning an unusual RICO case against some teachers who had cheated, she has nevertheless engaged the lawyer who literally wrote the book on state RICO prosecutions – “RICO State by State: A Guide to Litigation Under the State Racketeering Statutes” – to help her carry out a wide ranging investigation which she had earlier said would include possible racketeering activity.
Banzhaf, who is familiar with the federal RICO statute since he produced the memo which led to the federal government’s successful RICO prosecution against the major tobacco companies, points out that the Georgia RICO statute is even more powerful and far reaching than the federal one.
Among other things, it defines racketeering more broadly than the federal law does, takes less to prove a pattern of racketeering activity, and does not always require the existence of an enterprise – especially an illegal or criminal enterprise – to constitute racketeering. For example, the “enterprise” used in the RICO teacher-cheating case was a school.
Also, notes Banzhaf, although RICO requires at least two independent illegal racketeering activities – “predicate acts” – to prove a pattern of corruption by Trump and his alleged co-conspirators, making false statements such as Trump and some of his allies are alleged to have made would easily satisfy Georgia’s RICO law.
Indeed, a RICO indictment would permit Willis to bring in evidence related to a much larger number of people than an ordinary indictment. RICO is a felony in Georgia, can carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison plus a hefty fine, and disgorgements of ill-gotten gains. Most felons in Georgia convicted of racketeering offenses do serve time in prison, Banzhaf notes.
And, unlike any federal cases which may be brought by special counsel Jack Smith now investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents and also his role in the January 6th riots, Trump (or any other Republican who might be elected president) would not have the power to pardon someone convicted of one or more crimes under Georgia law.
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