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Donald Trump expected to surrender to authorities over Georgia election charges

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump speaking as he campaigned at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 12 (REUTERS)
Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump speaking as he campaigned at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 12 (REUTERS)

Donald Trump is set to surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday on charges he schemed to overturn the 2020 election in the state.

His mugshot is due to be taken when he hands himself in at Fulton County jail - marking a historic first for a former US president - and released publicly the same day.

The prosecution in Fulton County, Atlanta, is the fourth criminal case against Trump since March, when he became the first former president in US history to be indicted.

Since then, he’s faced federal charges in Florida and Washington and, this month, was indicted in Atlanta with 18 others — including his ex-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — under a racketeering statute normally associated with gang members and organised crime.

The criminal cases have spurred a succession of bookings and arraignments, with Trump - the early frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, despite his legal troubles - making brief court appearances before returning to the campaign trail.

Trump’s appearance in Atlanta on Thursday will be different to the others, though, requiring him to surrender at a problem-plagued jail.

Unlike in other cities that did not require him to pose for a mugshot, Fulton County officials have said they expect to take a booking photo like they would for any other defendant.

“Unless somebody tells me differently, we are following our normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter your status, we’ll have a mugshot ready for you,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said at a news conference earlier this month.

A mugshot of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office after he handed himself in on Wednesday (via REUTERS)
A mugshot of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office after he handed himself in on Wednesday (via REUTERS)

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, regarding this and the charges he faces in other criminal cases.

He said in a social media post this week that he was being prosecuted for what he described in capital letters as a “perfect phone call” in which he asked the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to help him “find” enough votes for him to overturn his loss in the state to Democrat Joe Biden.

District Attorney Fani Willis has given all of the defendants until Friday afternoon to surrender at the main Fulton County jail.

Giuliani surrendered at the jail on Wednesday among several high-profile defendants. His mugshot was later released by police.

After Giuliani’s surrender, Trump repeated his unfounded claims that the election was rigged and stolen and wrote on his social media site: “The greatest Mayor in the history of New York City was just ARRESTED in Atlanta, Georgia, because he fought for Election Integrity.”

Fulton County jail, where Trump is expected to turn himself in at around 7.30pm local time (12.30am UK time), has long been a troubled facility.

The Justice Department last month opened a civil rights investigation into conditions, citing filthy cells, violence and the death last year of a man whose body was found covered in insects in the main jail’s psychiatric wing. Three people have died in Fulton County custody in the past month.

But Trump is not expected to spend much time there.

His lawyers and prosecutors have already agreed to a bond of $200,000, along with conditions that include barring the former president from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case — including on social media.

When defendants arrive at the jail, they typically pass through a security checkpoint before checking in for formal booking in the lobby.

During the booking process, defendants are typically photographed and fingerprinted and asked to provide certain personal information. Since Trump’s bond has already been set, he will be released from custody once the booking process is complete.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, in Fulton County, arraignments — where a defendant appears in court for the first time — generally happen after a defendant surrenders at the jail and completes the booking process, not on the same day.

That means Trump could have to make two trips to Georgia in the coming weeks though the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has said some arraignments in the case may happen virtually if the judge allows, or he could waive Trump’s arraignment.

When he eventually appears in court, the public is also likely to see much more of the proceedings firsthand. Georgia courts typically allow photographs and video of the proceeding, unlike in federal court and in New York, where press access is tightly controlled.