By Reed Galen
Earlier this week, a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, returned indictments against former president Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and co-conspirators for attempting to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. Over the course of the 98-page indictment, we see familiar names in Trumplandia, some new personalities, and at least 20 ‘unindicted co-conspirators.’
Missing from the list of those charged are the likes of US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Shame Spiral) and Cleta ‘democracy isn’t our friend’ Mitchell, the attorney who shared Trump’s ‘perfect phone call’ to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger.
Other, smarter, and legal minds will dissect the individual counts and acts for which Trump and company will now stand trial. There were two specific aspects of the indictment that troubled me in their threats to the foundation of our electoral system.
First was the conspiracy within the conspiracy to contact, impact and intimidate Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County elections worker. Ms. Ruby’s story was told in person and on video during last summer’s bi-partisan January 6th Committee hearings. Ms. Freeman, and her daughter Shea Moss, were accused by the likes of Giuliani and other conspiracy theorists of destroying thousands of Trump ballots. They did not.
Among those charged with attempting to influence Ms. Freeman includes a pastor from Illinois and R. Kelly’s and Ye’s former publicist based in Chicago. Neither have any legal or political background to speak of. When the time came, though, they approached Ms. Freeman at her home and at a police station, where they tried to entice a ‘confession’ from Ms. Ruby. When none was forthcoming, they tried veiled threats that she might be prosecuted for her actions. Ms. Freeman has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
As we learned last summer and now see in the charging document, Trump supporters were willing to approach an innocent, patriotic American citizen with threats in their zeal to find some shred of evidence to help the MAGA god-king stay in power. As many who’ve crossed Trump have learned, his followers will stop at nothing, including threats of and actual violence, lynching, and personal ruin to get their way.
Ms. Freeman, like hundreds of thousands of other proud Americans, volunteered her time to work the polls, help count ballots, and make the machinery of democracy work. For her trouble, her life has been turned upside down by dilettantes, who, if their intentions were not so odious, could be bit two-bit goons in a bad crime novel.
But if intimidating elections workers, and local and state officials weren’t enough, the Fulton County indictment also laid out how Sidney “I’m the Kraken Now” Powell helped perpetrate the intrusion into, and theft of, Coffee County, Georgia, election equipment. As described in the document, several of the conspirators accessed computers containing election information “with the intention of reviewing personal voter data…”
The secret ballot is fundamental to a free, fair, and functioning democracy. We have seen throughout history and in our own time that when voters’ choices are open to scrutiny by authorities and/or unlawful actors, they’re left open to intimidation. Donald Trump’s co-conspirators knew this in late 2020 and early 2021, and they did it anyway.
If there’s an epitaph for this time in our history, it will be, “So many people knew better, but they did it anyway.”
Looking ahead to 2024, we should expect that this type of behavior and activity will occur again in a more coordinated and widespread fashion. Armed with that foreknowledge, our local, state, and federal officials dedicated to securing our elections have the opportunity to be more vigilant - before Election Day, to ensure none of Trump’s lackeys is successful in their attempts.
Like Trump’s previous state and Federal indictments, those handed down in Fulton County, Georgia this week reinforce that neither this man, nor any of his associates, can ever be in a position of public trust, authority, or power ever again. We’re out of chances. We know what we’re up against. It’s up to us to send Trump and his ilk into the dustbin of history where they belong.