Trump’s Tweets Used Against Him in Georgia Indictment

From a Washington Post story by Amy B Wang and Josh Dawsey headlined “Trump’s tweets used against him in Georgia indictment”:

In a criminal indictment filed that alleged former president Donald Trump and 18 of his associates conspired to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, prosecutors repeatedly cited a rather uncommon piece of evidence to undergird their charges of racketeering: Twitter posts.

It was Trump’s fourth indictment since leaving office and, like the three others preceding it, it cited a slew of phone calls, meetings and false statements to allege wrongdoing. But, more prominently than in the other cases, prosecutors used Trump’s own tweets to implicate him, pointing to a dozen of his posts on Twitter as “overt” acts that “furthered the conspiracy.”

Such acts are not necessarily crimes on their own under Georgia law, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis said late Monday night. But the indictment alleges that at least 12 of Trump’s tweets — posted from his @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account between the November 2020 election and Jan. 6, 2021 — were part of a broader effort to force state officials, and even his own vice president, to take corrupt actions to help him overturn the results of the election.

Some of the tweets are more incendiary than others. But the indictment cites a series of false statements Trump made about the election and his calls on officials to help him overturn the election results, starting on Dec. 3, 2020.

“Wow! Blockbuster testimony taking place right now in Georgia. Ballot stuffing by Dems when Republicans were forced to leave the large counting room. Plenty more coming, but this alone leads to an easy win of the State!” read one tweet that Trump “caused to be tweeted” from @RealDonaldTrump that day, according to the indictment. The allegations of ballot stuffing were unfounded.

A subsequent tweet from Trump’s account later that day stated baselessly that, “People in Georgia got caught cold bringing in massive numbers of ballots and putting them in ‘voting’ machines.” The tweet was appended with, “Great job @BrianKempGA!” — a dig at the Republican governor of Georgia who pushed back against Trump’s claims of election fraud in the state.

“What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is,” read another cited tweet from Dec. 14, 2020. “Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.”

The mention of two senators was in reference to the high-stakes runoff race taking place in Georgia at the time for both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Democrats won both seats in the runoff, which was held on Jan. 5, 2021, increasing the party’s slim majority in the Senate.

The indictment also cites tweets in which Trump attacked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, former Georgia lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan and former vice president Mike Pence when they were not going along with his claims.

“I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!” Trump’s Twitter account stated in a post on Jan. 3, 2021.

In tweets on Jan. 5 and the morning of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Trump continued to falsely push the idea that the vice president had the power to reject electors.

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval,” read one tweet from @RealDonaldTrump posted on Jan. 6, 2021. “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is time for extreme courage!”

Some of the tweets were less aggressive. The indictment pointed to a Dec. 3, 2020, tweet in which Trump wrote “Georgia hearings now on @OANN. Amazing!” which was described as “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

In all, Trump’s tweets comprise 12 of the 161 acts of racketeering activity included in the indictment. Those tweets, as well as some of the phone calls cited, are likely included in the indictment to show a pattern, according to Caren Morrison, a former federal prosecutor now at Georgia State University.

“Not every act in furtherance of the conspiracy has to be a crime in and of itself,” Morrison said.

Trump is no longer on Twitter. He was suspended from the platform after Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. However, Trump’s Twitter account was reactivated after Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform, which was recently renamed X. Trump now posts on his own social media platform, Truth Social.

This is not the first time Trump’s social media activity has been of interest to prosecutors. Twitter was recently fined $350,000 for failing to turn over Trump’s data to special counsel Jack Smith, who has been investigating the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack.

A grand jury in that investigation indicted Trump on four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the nation. Trump pleaded not guilty to all four charges earlier this month. He has also denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in the two other cases against him.

Amber Phillips and Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

Amy B Wang is a national politics reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 2016 after seven years with the Arizona Republic.

Josh Dawsey is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for The Washington Post. He joined the paper in 2017 and previously covered the White House. Before that, he covered the White House for Politico, and New York City Hall and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the Wall Street Journal.

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