Former U.S. President Donald Trump left the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta about 20 minutes after he arrived to be booked on felony charges of racketeering and conspiracy linked to his alleged efforts to overturn his 2020 reelection loss in Georgia.
He arrived at the jail shortly after 7:30 p.m. EDT and his mugshot was taken there.
This marks an unprecedented fourth time that Trump was to be arrested and booked in the past five months.
Trump was released pending trial after paying a $200,000 bond his lawyers negotiated earlier this week with Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis.
Before boarding his plane at Atlanta’s airport, he spoke briefly to reporters about his arrest.
“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong, and everybody knows that,” Trump said. “What they’re doing is election interference,” he added.
“We did nothing wrong at all, and we have every right, every single right, to challenge an election that we think is dishonest,” Trump added.
He declined to answer questions from the press.
No previous U.S. president has been charged with criminal offenses, but Trump is now facing 91 charges across the four indictments for his alleged actions before, during and after his single-term presidency ended in early 2021.
He faces 13 charges in Georgia, where Willis on Thursday called for an October 23 start date for his trial and that of 18 co-defendants. But Trump and others could object to a trial starting in two months. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee will ultimately pick the date.
Even with the array of charges he is facing, Trump is the leading Republican contender for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination to run against the presumptive Democratic nominee, President Joe Biden.
Regardless of when the trial in Atlanta might start, Trump is already facing weeks of criminal trials he would be obligated to appear at in the first half of 2024. But he made a calculated decision that his national polling lead over other Republican presidential hopefuls is so commanding — 40 percentage points or more — that he skipped the party’s first presidential debate Wednesday night.
The 77-year-old Trump, if convicted in any of the cases, could face years in prison.
He has denied all wrongdoing while assailing the three prosecutors pursuing the four cases against him and two of the four judges randomly picked to oversee his trials. He has claimed that the allegations leveled against him are a political witch hunt aimed at thwarting his 2024 campaign to reclaim the presidency.
In agreeing to the bond for his release in Georgia — the first time he has had to post cash to stay free pending trial — Trump also agreed to not threaten or intimidate witnesses, including on social media platforms.
For months, Trump has claimed that Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who has filed two of the cases against him, is “deranged” and a “crackhead,” while contending that two other prosecutors, Alvin Bragg in a New York case, and Willis, both of whom are Black, are “racist” for filing their indictments against him.
About half of Trump’s 18 co-defendants have already met Willis’ demand that they surrender by noon on Friday. Former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, best known as the New York mayor during the 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the city, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell all turned themselves in on Wednesday and were released on bail.
Trump’s last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former senior Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark both reached $100,000 bond deals with Willis to secure their release pending trials.
Ahead of his flight to Georgia, Trump hired veteran Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Steve Sadow to oversee his defense.
Sadow said in a statement that Trump “should never have been indicted,” adding, “he is innocent of all the charges brought against him.”
He added that “prosecutions intended to advance or serve the ambitions and careers of political opponents of the president have no place in our justice system.”
The Georgia case against Trump stems broadly from his taped January 2, 2021, telephone call to the state’s election chief, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” 11,780 votes, one more than Biden’s margin of victory, so he could claim victory in the state. Until Trump, no Republican presidential candidate had lost the state since 1992.
In addition, Trump is accused in Georgia of conspiring to create a slate of fake electors in the state to cast their ballots for him, rather than the legitimate ones for Biden, when Congress met on January 6, 2021, to certify the election outcome in the Electoral College.
At stake were Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, although the state counted the popular presidential vote three times, with Biden winning each time.
The U.S. does not pick its presidents in the national popular vote, although Biden won 7 million more votes than Trump in 2020. Rather, the national outcome is determined in 50 state-by-state elections, with the biggest states holding the most sway in the subsequent Electoral College vote count.
Trump contested the outcome in seven states he narrowly lost to Biden, claiming that voting irregularities and cheating cost him another four-year term in the White House. Overturning the Georgia result by itself would not have changed the national outcome.
To this day, Trump denies he lost the election. But dozens of judges have ruled against his fraud claims. None of the seven states Trump contested reversed its conclusion that Biden had legitimately won its electoral votes.