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Trump surrenders to Georgia authorities in 2020 election case

Donald Trump has surrendered to authorities in Atlanta, Georgia, where he faces 13 criminal charges over alleged attempts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The 77-year-old, who is the clear frontrunner in the race to again become the Republican candidate for the White House, was booked in Fulton County and photographed, before being released on a previously negotiated $200,000 bond.

Trump then returned to his plane and briefly addressed the media before boarding, calling the case a “travesty of justice” and “election interference”.

Several others charged alongside Trump in the case brought by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis turned themselves in on Wednesday, including former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as Jenna Ellis, a former attorney for the Trump campaign. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered on Thursday afternoon.

Willis’ office had given the 19 defendants charged in the case until Friday to voluntarily surrender. Local authorities said Trump would be treated like any other defendant, which typically includes having to take a mug shot.

The Georgia case is the latest in a number of prosecutions that have ensnared Trump and complicated his latest run for the White House, including the prospect that he could stand trial in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Trump’s surrender comes a day after he skipped the first television debate between Republican hopefuls for the presidential nomination, choosing instead to do a pre-recorded interview to former Fox host Tucker Carlson that aired simultaneously on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

In the interview, Trump — who has long branded the cases against him as being part of a politically motivated witch hunt — reiterated his claims that the 2020 election had been “rigged” against him, and mused that he could be the target of political violence, saying: “I’ve seen what they do. I’ve seen the lengths that they go to.”

In a post on his Truth Social site on Thursday afternoon, Trump said he was going to Atlanta to be “ARRESTED by a Radical Left, Lowlife District Attorney, Fani Willis, for A PERFECT PHONE CALL, and having the audacity to challenge a RIGGED & STOLEN ELECTION”.

The phone call alluded to in the indictment was one in which Trump allegedly asked Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to help him “find 11,780 votes” in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Republicans have decried the criminal cases against Trump as attempts to weaponise the political system against the former president. Earlier on Thursday, Jim Jordan, the Republican chair of the House judiciary committee, launched an investigation into whether Willis collaborated with federal prosecutors, including special counsel Jack Smith, who brought similar charges against Trump earlier this month.

In a letter to the Georgia prosecutor, Jordan, who is a fierce Trump ally, said the “timing of this prosecution reinforces concerns” about Willis’ motivation, given that it was brought two-and-a-half years after her office was first reported to be probing the former president.

“Moreover, you have requested that the trial in this matter begin on March 4 2024, the day before Super Tuesday and eight days before the Georgia presidential primary,” Jordan added. “It is therefore unsurprising many have speculated that this indictment and prosecution are designed to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.”

Trump, who now faces four separate criminal cases, is expected to plead not guilty at a later date to the 13 charges that were brought against him by Georgia prosecutors, including violating the state’s anti-racketeering laws, engaging in criminal solicitation and a criminal conspiracy, making false statements, and filing false documents.

Court filings published on Monday showed Trump’s lawyers had agreed to bail terms with the Fulton County district attorney, including a $200,000 bond and a pledge not to intimidate witnesses.

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