ATLANTA — Donald Trump surrendered at an Atlanta jail on Thursday and was booked on felony charges alleging he participated in a sweeping criminal conspiracy to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia — an unprecedented moment resulting in the first mug shot of a former American president.
Trump’s booking at the Fulton County Jail came 10 days after the former president was charged in Georgia in what was his fourth criminal indictment since March — and his second tied to his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election results and remain in the White House.
But his Atlanta surrender was unlike his previous ones. While other jurisdictions waived a booking photo and processed Trump in courthouse facilities, Fulton County officials announced Trump would be treated no differently than any other Atlanta-area arrestee.
Trump was required to turn himself in at the notorious county jail known as “Rice Street,” where inmate deaths and decrepit conditions recently prompted a Justice Department civil rights investigation. The former president had his height and weight recorded and was fingerprinted and photographed. Unlike other arrestees, he was booked and released in roughly 20 minutes on a $200,000 bond negotiated earlier in the week by his legal team. He arrived and departed through a back entrance of the facility where he did not interact with anyone in the jail population.
Trump is facing 13 counts in the Georgia case, including violating the state’s racketeering act, soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree and conspiring to file false documents. The former president has denied any wrongdoing and described the investigation, led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, as a “political witch hunt.”
Speaking to reporters as he prepared to board his plane to depart Atlanta, Trump again defended his actions in Georgia.
“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice,” Trump said. “We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.”
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Trump Georgia indictment live updates
Trump surrendered Thursday at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia on charges that he illegally conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss. Authorities released his booking record — including his height and weight — and mug shot.
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He is expected to be formally arraigned in coming weeks — a court hearing that probably will require him to return to Atlanta, though a judge could also schedule a virtual appearance.
Trump’s surrender was preceded by significant developments in the case, including a shake-up of his Georgia-based legal team.
Steven Sadow, a prominent Atlanta criminal defense attorney, filed notice in Fulton County Superior Court that he was now serving as Trump’s lead counsel in the case.
Trump had been represented for the past year by a trio of other attorneys — Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little — who had spent recent months trying to disqualify Willis, a Democrat, and her office from prosecuting the former president and to quash evidence gathered by a special-purpose grand jury in the case.
On Monday, Findling, Goldberg and Little negotiated Trump’s $200,000 consent bond order and signed the document outlining his release conditions. But they had not yet filed formal notice in the docket as Trump’s representatives in the case.
As of Thursday, Findling, who had been Trump’s lead counsel in Georgia, was no longer part of the team, according to a person familiar with Trump’s legal strategy who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the change. It was not immediately clear if Goldberg, who is Findling’s legal partner, or Little remained on the case.
Sadow, Findling, Goldberg and Little did not respond to requests for comment.
Sadow, whose website describes him as a “special counsel for white collar and high profile defense,” is well-known in Atlanta legal circles with a roster of prominent clients including the rap artists Rick Ross and T.I. and the singer Usher.
Most recently, Sadow represented the hip-hop star Gunna in another sprawling criminal racketeering case, this one involving the rapper Young Thug, being prosecuted by Willis’s office and expected to go to trial in the coming months. Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, reached a plea deal in that case.
Like Findling, Sadow has been a critic of Georgia’s anti-racketeering statute, which is far broader than federal law, and has suggested prosecutors in the state have been overusing the law to charge cases.
Sadow quickly went to work Thursday, signaling Trump’s opposition to a motion from Willis suggesting an Oct. 23 trial date for the former president and his co-defendants in the case.
Her filing came in response to a motion filed Wednesday by attorneys for former Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro seeking a speedy trial in the case. If approved by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, Willis would have to begin presenting her case before Nov. 3 — the last day of the next court term in Fulton County.
Willis last week proposed a March trial date, acknowledging a crowded calendar of pending litigation against Trump. Privately, Willis and her team had long prepared for a potential speedy-trial request — with the prosecutor urging her staff to be ready to present the case in court as soon as the indictments were announced, according to a person familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.
In her filing Thursday, Willis confirmed her office is ready to try the case on an aggressive timeline, but that quickly drew opposition from Sadow, who signaled Trump would be filing a motion to “sever” his case from Chesebro and any other co-defendant who requests a speedy trial.
Late Wednesday, McAfee agreed to the Oct. 23 trial date in a court scheduling order — but only for Chesebro. “At this time, these deadlines do not apply to any co-defendant,” McAfee wrote in his first major order in the election case.
Hours before Trump’s arrival in Atlanta, his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was booked and released on a $100,000 bond at the jail. That came ahead of a scheduled federal court hearing on Monday in Atlanta on Meadows’s request to move his case from state court to federal court.
Meadows’s attorneys have argued that the Fulton County charges cover his conduct while he was a federal official working as a top aide for Trump. They have cited a federal law known as the “removal statute,” which generally allows “any officer … of the United States” who is facing criminal prosecution in state court to move those proceedings to federal court if the case relates to actions that were part of the individual’s duties as a federal official.
But Willis has indicated she will vigorously challenge Meadows’s claims that he was acting as a federal official. On Thursday, federal court records revealed that Willis had subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his onetime lead investigator, Frances Watson — both of whom interacted directly with Meadows in December 2020 and January 2021 — to testify at Monday’s hearing.
Raffensperger famously interacted with Meadows on a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Trump, which Meadows helped arrange. During that hour-long call, Trump told the state’s top elections official that he wanted to find a way to disqualify thousands of votes to reverse his narrow loss in the state.
Watson met Meadows several weeks earlier, when the White House official traveled to an Atlanta suburb to witness a state-run audit of absentee ballot signatures that Watson was overseeing. Trump called Watson the next day, urging her to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County and asserting that she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.”
Dozens of Trump supporters gathered outside the Fulton County Jail for much of Thursday, awaiting the former president’s arrival alongside scores of local and national reporters. At one point, officers clad in riot gear moved in to secure the area, adding to the surreal nature of the scene.
News helicopters circled in the sky above Atlanta while a television camera positioned at the airport broadcast every incoming aircraft as reporters awaited the arrival of Trump’s plane. Trump flew with several campaign advisers who could be potential witnesses in the Georgia case, including Jason Miller and Boris Epshteyn, and was met at the airport by Sadow, his new attorney.
Trump’s motorcade raced to the jail on a route that took him through the historic heart of Black Atlanta, passing the storied Morehouse College. People gathered on sidewalks, stoops and balconies to watch Trump pass, many recording on their phones, while others shouted or made an obscene gesture.
His motorcade did not take him past the road lined with supporters, but rather through a quiet back entrance of the jail. Trump walked in, accompanied by his attorney and Secret Service agents. The former president said nothing.
Gardner reported from Washington. Allison Salerno and Mark Shavin in Atlanta and Mariana Alfaro, Ben Brasch, Josh Dawsey, Marisa Iati, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Maegan Vazquez and Amy B Wang in Washington contributed to this report.
More on the Trump Georgia indictment
The latest: Trump surrendered Thursday at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia on charges that he illegally conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss. Authorities released his booking record — including his height and weight — and mug shot.
The charges: Trump was charged with 13 counts, including violating the state’s racketeering act. Read the full text of the Georgia indictment. Here’s a breakdown of the charges against Trump and a list of everyone else who was charged in the Georgia case. Trump now faces 91 total charges in four criminal cases.
The case: Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) has been investigating whether Trump and his associates broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Here’s what happens next in the Georgia case.
Can Trump still run for president? While it has never been attempted by a candidate from a major party before, Trump is allowed to run for president while under indictment — or even if he is convicted of a crime.