“Oh Georgia, No Peace I Find”: The Fourth Indictment of Donald Trump and the Criminalization of Election Controversies

Below is my column in The Messenger on the Georgia indictment. As expected, the indictment is a sweeping racketeering based prosecution involving former president Donald Trump and the 18 other defendants. The scope of the alleged conspiracy is massive.  “The call” is one of those steps but the famous line that has occupied hours of coverage (and led to the investigation) is not the central allegation. Indeed, every call, speech, and tweet appears a criminal step in the conspiracy. District Attorney Fani Willis appears to have elected to charge everything and everyone and let God sort them out.

Here is the column from yesterday before the release of the indictment:

Oh Georgia, no peace I find (no peace I find).”

Those lyrics made famous by the late, great Ray Charles could have been written for former president Donald Trump this week as he awaits his expected fourth indictment. The long-anticipated indictment by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected in the coming days and will focus on alleged election tampering and related offenses in the 2020 presidential election.

If indictments were treated like frequent flyer miles, Donald Trump would get the Georgia indictment for free. However, it will be anything but costless. Regardless of the merits, it will magnify both the cost and complications for Trump.

Like the New York indictment, a Georgia indictment would not be subject to a presidential pardon. Not only have GOP candidates indicated that they would pardon Trump on any federal charges if elected to the presidency, Trump could pardon himself (including a preemptive pardon before trial) if elected — but that power does not reach state convictions.

As with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, many view Willis as a Democratic prosecutor pursuing the highly unpopular former president. However, given the three grand juries and the three years that have passed, Willis may have found new evidence or witnesses that could tie Trump to criminal conduct in seeking to challenge the results in the election.

Thus far, the focus has been on the controversial call that Trump had with Georgia officials — a call widely cited as indisputable evidence of an effort at voting fraud. Yet, the call was similar to a settlement discussion, as state officials and the Trump team hashed out their differences and a Trump demand for a statewide recount. Trump had lost the state by less than 12,000 votes. That might be what he meant when he stated, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”

While others have portrayed the statement as a raw call for fabricating the votes, it seems more likely that Trump was swatting back claims that there was no value to a statewide recount by pointing out that he wouldn’t have to find a statistically high number of votes to change the outcome of the election. It is telling that many politicians and pundits refuse to even acknowledge that obvious alternate meaning.

For Trump’s part, he is not helping with his signature, all-caps social media attacks.

In addition to attacking Willis for a supposedly “racist” and “unethical” past, Trump recently declared that Willis “wants to indict me for a perfect phone call; this was even better than my perfect call on Ukraine.” I have previously disagreed with the claimed perfection of that Ukraine call, the subject of Trump’s first impeachment. However, neither call needs to be “perfect” to be protected.

The importance made of the call in the likely Georgia indictment will be one of the greatest “tells” as to what Willis has in terms of evidence. If the call is a critical linchpin to the prosecution, it will look like a political stunt out of the Bragg-school of prosecution.

There have also been stories indicating that Willis is focusing on connections of Trump team members like Rudy Giuliani to a “breach” of the voting system on Jan. 7, 2021. The team was seeking access to the voting machines to show that they could be compromised or manipulated. Text messages state that the team secured an “invitation” to examine the machines in Coffee County.

That “invitation” was reportedly from a Coffee County elections official, who also reportedly claimed, incorrectly, that votes could be “easily” flipped from Trump to Biden.

Coffee County was also discussed as an example of voting irregularities to justify a proposed draft executive order to seize voting machines. However, that order was never sent out.

The problem is that these messages also apparently refer to “voluntary access” and that may have been what was conveyed to Trump. One message reads: “Most immediately, we were just granted access — by written invitation! — to Coffee County’s systems. Yay!”

Yet, the Coffee County allegations highlight another risk in the Georgia prosecution. There are clearly a number of people beyond Trump who are being targeted, including his lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Indictments can unnerve associates who lack the money or support of Trump. That can lead to flipping key figures to offer state evidence.

The greatest challenge for Georgia is to offer a discernible limiting principle on when challenges in close elections are permissible and when they are criminal. There is a relatively short period between the presidential election in November and counting of electoral votes in January. That means that challenges are often made on incomplete data or unresolved allegations. Generally, candidates are suing election officials who control the machines, data, and other evidence needed to make a case. They often (as they did in 2020) resist demands for access to evidence.

That is not to excuse the claims made by the Trump team. In the coverage after the election, I criticized both sides. I could not understand how many experts were declaring that there was no evidence of voting irregularities a day after the election, before any data were available. However, I also said that the Trump campaign had failed to supply such evidence in critical court filings. I also publicly disagreed with Trump’s fraud claims.

It is important for campaigns to seek judicial review of election challenges without fear of prosecution. Some Democratic lawyers after 2020 made their own controversial (and unsuccessful) allegations of machines flipping or altering election outcomes. No one suggested that they should be criminally charged or disbarred.

The pile-on of prosecutions could create a chilling effect for campaigns in seeking recounts and reviews in close elections. That does not mean that there may not be evidence of knowing fraud or criminal wrongdoing. However, another anemic filing like the one in New York will only fuel the deep political divisions and unrest in the country. It needs to be clearly based on a desire for justice, rather than “just deserts.”

For Trump, of course, he may feel that (as Ray Charles sang) it always seems that “the road leads back to you” for Democratic prosecutors. That itself is not a problem so long as the road is both straight and well laid.

Jonathan Turley, an attorney, constitutional law scholar and legal analyst, is the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at The George Washington University Law School.

322 thoughts on ““Oh Georgia, No Peace I Find”: The Fourth Indictment of Donald Trump and the Criminalization of Election Controversies”

  1. “And now perhaps the least surprising news story of the week. A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 19 years in prison for what officials call supporting extremism. [. . .] ‘You, not me, are being frightened [wrote Navalny] and deprived of the will to resist. You are being forced to surrender your country of Russia without a fight to the gang of traitors, thieves and scoundrels who have seized power.'”


    Oh, did I just mix the countries?

  2. Mike Davis 🇺🇸

    Dear @Jim_Jordan:

    Obviously, Democrat Fulton County DA Fani Willis is colluding with the Biden Justice Department, including Jack Smith, to help elect Biden by interfering in the 2024 presidential election.

    Please subpoena their communications.

    A loquacious Fani Willis clams up when asked if she’s been in contact with Jack Smith.

    That means, yes.

  3. Julie Kelly 🇺🇸

    DOJ has so far arrested and charged more than 1,100 American citizens on bogus charges for protesting Joe Biden’s bogus election more than 2 1/2 years ago. DC US Atty Matt Graves, a Biden apparatchik, is STILL arresting people every week.

    Yes 🍌 republic.

    1. As long as the left-wing Marxist zealots have control of our Government, we will be divided by class or race or religion by the Deep State media and pitted against each other to preserve their stolen political power.

  4. @Liz_Wheeler

    “This is the progression:

    First they come for Trump.

    Then they come for people associated with Trump.

    Then they come for conservatives speaking opinions they don’t like.

    The goal all along has been criminalization of free speech.

    These leftists are evil.”

  5. THIS….1,000%……this ——->

    Mike Davis 🇺🇸

    Dear House Republicans:

    Democrat prosecutors and other politicians have forced Trump’s aides, his supporters, and many other conservatives to spend a lot of money on lawyers.

    Where the hell are your impeachment inquiries of Biden and Garland?

    Where the hell are your subpoenas?

  6. “DEVELOPING: DC super-lawyer Abbe Lowell has stepped in to to take over Hunter Biden’s criminal defense from Chris Clark, who threatened prosecutors; tricked a clerk into taking down IRS whistleblowers’ transcripts from court website; & tried to fool the judge by misquoting a case.”

  7. I had a visit with a world class computer engineer who is on the cutting edge of machine learning research. I told him the joke about the A.I program that watched 30 minutes of main stream American news and turned into an illiterate moron. He nearly fell out of his chair in laughter.

    (I got this from Babylon Bee and changed it a little bit as they used CNN as the example)

    1. “watched 30 minutes of main stream American news and turned into an illiterate moron.”

      A classic chicken/egg scenario.


      “…as reported by NBC.”——Gigi

    2. Daisy, Daisy GÍvΣ Mē Ϋ΅΅ΩŪЯ ǼNŠЩέЃ˛˛˛ĐŌ….spurt…
      {halts and catches fire}

  8. Thank you Joe Biden. While you kill Americans and try to interfere with elections:

    Border agents seize enough lethal drugs this fiscal year to kill more than 6 billion people
    These amounts are greater than what was seized in all of fiscal 2022.

  9. FBI tipped off Biden presidential transition team to Hunter Biden interview: ex-agent
    “This essentially tipped off a group of 16 people very close to President Biden and Hunter Biden and gave this group an opportunity to obstruct the approach of the witness,” the unnamed agent said.

  10. A massive storm cloud comprised of fed-up, working-class Americans of all races is on the horizon. Leftists everywhere will rue the day they decided to turn a blind eye to sky-high prices for food, housing, and transportation, out-of-control illegal immigration, sex trafficking of women and children, international trafficking of fentanyl, transgender surgery on children, violent crime on our streets, government censorship of its citizens, government spying on its citizens, government officials accepting tens of millions of dollars in bribes, government officials spending tens of billions of dollars on foreign wars, government officials subsidizing corporations that manufacture products in China, and government officials putting their political adversaries in prison.

  11. Superb video. The deep state got Nixon and what did the deep state do to Trump?
    What was Nixon’s counter revolution?
    And more.

    From Christopher Rufo

    Nixon forever.

    1. Alan, as I recall, Republicans took part in the Watergate hearings, and they too were disturbed by Nixon’s total lack of scruples.

      But then again, Republicans of the Nixon era were considerably saner than today’s GOP.

      1. Differences of opinion are ok, hypocrites are not, and neither are people that cannot keep a singular name. That is cowardly, but you already know that and realize it every time you change your name.

        You missed the video’s point, but that too is not surprising.

        Biden’s corruption and lack of scruples make Nixon and almost anyone else look pure.

  12. Is JT so quick to defend mob bosses that use free speech to ask their underlings to help a cohort go swim with the fishes?

    How about every bank robber in the country telling the teller to just load as. many $100 bills into this bag? It’s just speech right?

    How about every rapist telling their victim to just enjoy it? It’s fun isn’t it? And besides, after the rapist told her she could swim either swim with the fist or have fun, she said yes, please rape me. Free speech.

    Virtually every crime on the books has an element of speech. Get over it, trump its a fool and all you trumpets look like fools. Just wait til the drugs wear off, you will all be wondering why the heck you followed this narcissist fool to his doom.

  13. OK, big mouth Dennis, we will start with this one…

    “Democrats also support the use of force–but for quite different reasons–” —-Dennis

    “The only guy who is inviting violence these days is DJT!” —-Dennis

    Both of these statements were in a single post.

    One of them is a lie.

    This gets posted above and below every post you make until you answer to it, then I will move on to your next lie.

  14. Trump supporters have so many holes in them from standing on 5th Avenue that Trump can reload, and shoot some more, and they still say, nothing to see here.

    1. Hey Gigi
Do you still think Texas makes electricity from crude oil???
      Best stop cutting and pasting from your daily democrat talking points email.

      Texas Electricity by type
      Natural gas 46%
      Wind 23%
      Coal 18%
      Nuclear 11%
      Solar 2%

  15. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐥𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐩 𝐁𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐀𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧
    Does the Constitution permit Donald Trump to be on the 2024 Presidential ballot? The question arises because of a long-neglected part of the 14th Amendment. Section Three provides that no person can hold political office if, having taken an oath to support the Constitution as a state or federal official, they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion. …
    By: Kermit Roosevelt III ~ August 15, 2023

    Article’s Point/Counter-Point:: U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 3

    𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐩 𝐈𝐬 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐁𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐧𝐲 𝐄𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐬
    Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment bans anyone from holding any federal office who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and who then breaks that oath by engaging in “insurrection or rebellion against the same.” Donald J. Trump is precisely such a person.
    Steven Calabresi | 8.10.2023 6:44 PM
    [Link://] reason.com/volokh/2023/08/10/trump-is-disqualified-from-being-on-any-election-ballots/

    𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐞
    172 U. PA. L. REV. (forthcoming 2024)
    William Baude & Michael Stokes Paulsen ~ August 14th 2023
    [PDF://] papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID4532751_code398074.pdf?abstractid=4532751&mirid=1&type=2

    𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟. 𝐌𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐞𝐥 𝐌𝐜𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐡 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭, “𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧,” 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐩
    [Link://] reason.com/volokh/2023/08/12/prof-michael-mcconnell-responding-about-the-fourteenth-amendment-insurrection-and-trump/

    1. USC Hangs in the Balance: Show the world exactly where VSGPOTUSDJT was charged with “insurrection” or “treason” or “sedition.” Your mental masturbation is blowing up on yourself.

  16. Meanwhile, the evidence is stacking up and the momentum is mounting against the Biden Family bribery operation. The investigation is getting too close to the President so the bloodhounds have been deployed in a no holds barred political war using the weaponized, malignant legal system.

    The best way to get rid of a headache is to drop a cinder block on the toes.

    This is a psychological operation in full motion.

    1. “Seriously question. How does this not end in violent Revolution?”

      The Answer is:
      Ignore Them Completely.
      Don’t talk to them,
      Don’t listen to them,
      Don’t respond to them,
      Don’t buy from them,
      Don’t deal with them,
      Don’t do anything for them,
      Walk Away,
      Like They don’t exist.

    2. zz, hopefully it won’t. But if it does it will be a quick one since Leftists abhor the thought of owning their own weapons.

    3. It’s a looming threat and my greatest fear. You can see the storm clouds forming but are paralyzed to escape.

  17. The comments to the esteemed Professors posts would be more pleasant to read if the trolls on BOTH sides would comment on the actual content than just inserting their own pro and anti Trump spins.

    1. Oyez, oyez, oyez! The Commander of Speech issues an edict in the land of Freedom of Speech.

      Professor Turley and the Blog Sergeant at Arms have the power, ability, and discretion to admonish and edit comprehensively on this private property blog, in addition to the constitutional power to solely “claim and exercise” dominion over it.

    2. The Unrealistic persecution of Donald Trump has been going on since the announcement of his original candidacy
      And now it’s pinnacle is soon to be reached. It is absolutely historic in its Totality.
      It stopped being “Politics’ long ago, when the Freight Train came off Rails and careened through the American landscape.

      ” … prosecutions could create a chilling effect for campaigns in seeking recounts and reviews …”

      What the DEM-DOJ is realy saying by this action is:
      𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲, … 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐟 or 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫.

      ORANGE 🍊 is the New RED, WHITE, and BLUE ! 🇺🇸

      Vote for the Orange Party in 2024 🇺🇸

    3. Turley stopped being a columnist when he drank the kool-aid.

      You don’t need to be a law professor to know forging fake documents claiming to be something you’re not and sending them to the national archives isn’t legal.

      It happened in 7 states. It goes higher than Georgia.

      1. Hey Gigi
Do you still think Texas makes electricity from crude oil???
        Best stop cutting and pasting from your daily democrat talking points email.

        Texas Electricity by type
        Natural gas 46%
        Wind 23%
        Coal 18%
        Nuclear 11%
        Solar 2%

    4. Upvote — but unfortunately it appears that the trolls on both sides take a plea to stop their ridiculous trolling and petty squabblng as an invitation to do more of it. There are WAY too many people in this comment section that have ZERO intention of knocking it off, and are deluded into believing that others are interested in their moronic feuds.

      1. Some of the larger towns in West Texas have days when it is not only 100% renewables, but they are exporting and abundance of renewable energy.

Leave a Reply