Efforts That Were Wide-Ranging, Sordid, Chaotic, and Dangerous: Matthew Teague on the Indictment in Georgia
Co-Author of The Steal on the "Remarkable Document"
A grand jury in Atlanta has handed up an indictment accusing former President Donald Trump and 18 allies of trying to overthrow Trump’s loss in the last presidential election. It’s a remarkable document.
It’s remarkable first in its scope, expanding on information the author Mark Bowden and I uncovered in The Steal, a book that investigates efforts by Trump and his surrogates around the country before and after the 2020 election. The indictment is remarkable, too, in its local power: Unlike federal charges brought earlier this month by a special prosecutor, Trump can’t attempt to pardon himself and his allies for charges in Georgia, if he regains the presidency in 2024.The indictment is remarkable, too, in its local power.
The Georgia investigation, led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, alleges a waterfall of conspiracy that originated in the White House, ran down to the state level, then to county election offices and finally to individual doorsteps. It accuses conspirators ranging from Trump himself to his top aides like Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows, to relatively obscure characters we first brought to the fore in The Steal, like Trevian Kutti, a Chicago publicist who had worked for Kanye West.
It describes Trump’s famous call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which he pressured Raffensperger to “find” the thousands of votes he needed to win in Georgia. Raffensperger refused. Now the grand jury has described the phone call as “felony offense of solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.”
While Trump leaned on Georgia’s top election official, his surrogates pressured—and in some cases tormented—ground-level workers. The indictment outlines how in January 2021, a team working on Trump’s behalf went to rural Coffee County, entered the local elections office, and breached a vote-counting machine. They formed an actual conspiracy, according to the grand jury, based on a debunked conspiracy theory that the machines were flipping votes from Trump to opponent Joe Biden.
Elsewhere the indictment describes the plight of workers like Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker who helped count votes in Fulton County. In The Steal, we describe a bizarre episode in which Kutti, the celebrity publicist, traveled to Georgia and knocked on Freeman’s door, waging a pressure campaign for Freeman to confess fabricated election crimes. The indictment describes the machinations that led Kutti to Georgia, beginning with a white Chicago-area pastor and police chaplain named Stephen Cliffgard Lee, who solicited the help of Harrison Floyd, director of an organization called Black Voices for Trump. He in turned contacted Kutti, who traveled to Georgia.“I’m really fighting a disinformation, misinformation machine that’s not been honest and truthful to the American people.”
The indictment describes an effort that was many things: wide-ranging, sordid, chaotic, and dangerous. The grand jury clearly shared an impression Brad Raffensperger once offered me, after his call from Trump: “I’m really fighting a disinformation, misinformation machine that’s not been honest and truthful to the American people.”