My New One at Slate: “Why the Fulton County Indictment Is Different From Jack Smith’s Case”

I have written this piece for Slate. It begins:

If the recent federal indictment of Donald Trump on charges related to his attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election was a streamlined surgical strike aimed at assuring a clean case and a speedy trial of the former president before the 2024 election, Monday night’s Georgia indictment is the equivalent of a blitz. With 19 defendants and 41 charges, the heart of the indictment is a sprawling state racketeering charge with Trump in the center of a vast conspiracy to lie to state officials, pressure election officials to change vote totals, turn in phony slates of fake electors to Congress, influence witness testimony, and gain access to voting machinery and software, all in an effort to turn Trump from an electoral college loser into a second-term president. And although the action in the state complaint is centered in Georgia, it alleges that part of the conspiracy, which included the actions of his chief of staff and lawyers, spanned much of the continent, from Arizona to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. The case will be messy and difficult to manage, especially given Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s stated intention to try all 19 defendants together.

But the biggest difference between the federal case and the state case is not the number of defendants or counts in the indictment. It’s about the central role that race is likely to play not in the federal case but in the state case, from the race of the prosecutor, to the focus on a Black election worker Ruby Freeman, to the essential nature of the race-baiting bogus voter fraud charges in Georgia that formed Trump’s basis for claiming falsely that he was the rightful winner….

In important ways, the Georgia complaint is about getting justice for Freeman and Moss. But more broadly, the complaint vindicates the interest of all Black voters in Georgia and around the country. When Trump made his voter fraud claims in 2016 and 2020, he constantly focused his accusations on Democratic cities with large Black populations. On November 27, 2020, for example, Trump tweeted: “Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ‘80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. When you see what happened in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia & Milwaukee, massive voter fraud, he’s got a big unsolvable problem!” The message is clear: minority voters were stealing the votes of Trump’s white rural supporters. These racist tropes were also a major theme of Giuliani’s public-facing efforts to overturn the election as well.

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