Former United States President Donald Trump has surrendered himself to authorities in the state of Georgia, where he faces criminal charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The Republican leader flew down from his residence in Bedminster, New Jersey, to appear at the Fulton County jail on Thursday afternoon, less than a day ahead of his deadline to surrender.
Once inside, he was swiftly booked, a process that required Trump to have his mugshot taken, a first in US presidential history.
The process took approximately 20 minutes. Afterwards, Trump quickly disappeared into a motorcade waiting outside the jail. He had been released on a $200,000 bond agreement, the highest of all his co-defendants.
As he left the airport in Atlanta, Georgia, Trump issued a brief statement to reporters, denying wrongdoing and reiterating that he had the right to challenge his defeat in the 2020 election.
“We have every right – every single right – to challenge an election that we think is dishonest,” Trump said, offering a preview of his defence strategy.
He also turned the allegation of election meddling against the prosecutors, accusing them of trying to derail his 2024 bid for the presidency: “What they’re doing is election interference. They’re trying to interfere with an election.”
Trump is just one of 19 people charged in the Georgia election case, which alleges the existence of a criminal enterprise to override his defeat in the 2020 presidential race.
The former president is believed to be the 12th among the defendants to surrender to authorities.
All 19 defendants faced a deadline of Friday at noon local time (16:00 GMT) to turn themselves in. Since Tuesday, high-profile Trump allies have trickled into the Fulton County jail, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and lawyer Sidney.
Trump will be jailed, the wheel has turned
It’s increasingly clear.
Still, I think it is possible that when his familiar gallery of sycophants, enablers and lawyers has left for the day and he is alone in the quiet of night, the profundity of the legal peril Trump confronts has to register if only for an instant or two.
Sitting in a gilded room at Mar-a-Lago, his painted-on, orange-hued tan washed away, his trademark crisp blue suit, white shirt and long, red tie abandoned, and holding a cell phone for lonely company, the troubling truths that Trump keeps hard at bay are bound to intrude into his reality-defying cocoon.
In those rare moments, an unsettling measure of doubt which may occasionally tip into fear must grip Trump as the cascading list of criminal charges grows with each indictment. I suspect that after a little while, this simmering anxiety dissolves as quickly as it appears.
Then Trump returns to the comfort of his signature state of denial, reassuring himself that he will, as always, escape the comeuppance served to others beneath him who served him – loyally. They are expendable. Unlike Mr President.
Trump’s abiding sense of invincibility is a by-product of his defining authoritarian nature and preening, gangster-saturated hubris. But history confirms that, one after another, once cocksure thugs – in and out of high office – who remained confident that they were absolutely and permanently beyond reach are belatedly and reluctantly obliged to face the harsh, discordant music.
We have already had the pleasure of watching as Trump’s pedestrian crew of co-conspirators – who tried to engineer a slate of fake electors in Georgia after the 2020 presidential election – begin to be booked and have their mug shots taken for embarrassing posterity. More are scheduled to follow.
On Thursday afternoon, it will be Trump’s turn to endure that indignity. What a delightful spectacle that is likely to be, coming only hours after Trump’s agreeable tête-à-tête with a former Fox News faux journalist, Tucker Carlson, who has grovelled his way back into a sexual predator’s embrace.
Carlson’s pre-recorded burnishing of his indicted guest’s seething megalomania and platforming of the predictable litany of discredited accusations and mad conspiracy theories will, of course, satisfy Trump’s junkie-like need for validation and attention. Yet, just as with all fleeting highs, it will pass, replaced again by the blunt lows of exposure, vulnerability and humiliation.
Trump’s fourth appearance before a judge in the past four months is further evidence that the bluster and bravado that have resonated with his deplorable followers and silenced most of his servile Republican opponents, will not intimidate, nor dissuade prosecutors from doing their duty to hold Trump to serious account in Manhattan, Washington, DC, and Atlanta courtrooms.
With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party’s surrender to every diseased, autocratic aspect of Trumpism was on dutiful display during the two-hour “debate” among the grasping roster of also-rans on Wednesday evening. Their faint prospects of becoming the nominee rest – whether they are prepared to admit it or not – with the sometimes-sudden vagaries of time and nature and, ironically, the success of prosecutors whose dogged work they have almost universally and hysterically decried as an affront to fairness and a retributive assault on the Republican Party.
Perhaps like you, my impatience with prosecutors had me questioning whether Trump would ever face the reckoning he has earned for disgracing the Constitution he swore to protect and defend in 2016 while placing a hand on his childhood bible, as well as the bible Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration in 1861.
I was convinced that precedent and the persistent tenets of US exceptionalism which made the presidency sacrosanct shielded Trump from prosecution. Happily, I was wrong – partly.
While I counted the chances that Trump would ultimately sit in the dock as slim, I sensed that enlightened Americans were stirring in powerful rebuttal to the cresting wave of ignorance, hate and evangelical lunacy washing over them.
Slowly, the wheel began to turn. Belief began to emerge from resignation. Courage began to trump cowardice. Action began to replace inaction. Resistance, began, inch by inch, to move from rhetoric to reality.
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These days, I believe the inconceivable is conceivable: Trump, I am more than hopeful, will be jailed. Look at the number and breadth of the charges set out with surgical precision in persuasive indictment after persuasive indictment. Taken together, they catalogue a crime spree that constitutes a “criminal enterprise” of breathtaking scope, with the intent to silence his accusers, hoard a cache of sensitive documents, incite an insurrection to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as president, and subvert the democratic will of millions of voters in Georgia and beyond.
The 91 stiff, uncompromising charges are immune to Trump’s screeching outbursts and tired shenanigans meant to dilute and distract from the inevitable consequences of the barrage of felonies that he will, in due and steady course, be compelled to answer for.
Fox News cannot save him. His loud, obnoxious family and surrogates cannot save him. Neither will the imprisoned fanatics now holed up in jail for having stormed the Capitol at their patron saint’s sinister, self-serving urging.
Trump’s only imaginable salvation is to prevail next November and trigger an extraordinary crisis pitting a future convicted felon against the Constitution. Trump would welcome and revel in destroying the frayed remnants of a republic to save himself.
He will fail. As they did in 2020, enlightened Americans will see to that in 2024