Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat provided more details about former President Donald Trump’s demeanor when he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail last month.
“He came out, he was very stoic, really in a space that he was able to really lean on what we were doing, what we planned, and so we took his mug shot, took his fingerprints, as we would anybody else,” Mr. Labat told CNN late last week.
During the interview, he said that seeing the former president’s surrender at the jail weeks ago made him upset. That was, according to him, because he didn’t want to see someone of the former president’s stature having to go through the booking process at the jail, which included President Trump’s mugshot being taken.
“It was heartbreaking to see someone of that stature, and who represents our country in that fashion, having to go through this,” Mr. Labat said on Sept. 8.
Other than President Trump, 18 other co-defendants surrendered in a sprawling case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis under Georgia’s racketeering statute. All have pleaded not guilty, while some have attempted to move their cases to a federal court.
The district attorney’s office alleged that President Trump and individuals including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, prominent attorney Sidney Powell, former campaign lawyer Jena Ellis, and more conspired to overturn the 2020 election.
Several other defendants have also asked to be tried separately or in small groups, and President Trump, the early front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, has asked to be tried apart from anyone who files a speedy trial demand.
Several days before Mr. Labat’s comments, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said the trial for Mrs. Powell and attorney Kenneth Chesebro would begin Oct. 23. However, he appeared to be skeptical of prosecutors’ arguments that all 19 defendants could be tried together that soon.
“It just seems a bit unrealistic to think we can handle all 19 in 40 days. That’s my initial reaction,” he said, responding to prosecutors claims.
In announcing the wide-ranging 41-count indictment last month, Ms. Willis said she wants to try all 19 defendants together. But the legal maneuvering that has begun in the three weeks since the indictment was returned underscores the logistical complexity inherent in such a sprawling indictment with so many defendants.
But Mr. McAfee raised concerns about what that fight by some defendants to have their cases moved to federal court could mean for the rest of the case, saying appeals and final decisions on that issue could take months.
On Sept. 8, a judge denied Mr. Meadows’ bid to move his Georgia case to a federal court, claiming that his involvement in the alleged 2020 efforts in Georgia wasn’t part of his official duties as a White House official.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, in his ruling (pdf), found that Mr. Meadows “has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” adding that his “alleged association with post-election activities was not related to his role as White House Chief of Staff or his executive branch authority.”
“In light of the State’s evidence that Meadows undertook actions on behalf of the campaign during the time period of the alleged conspiracy, Meadows was required to come forward with competent proof of his factual contention that his actions involving challenges to the outcome of the Georgia’s Presidential election results were within his role as Chief of Staff. His efforts fall short,” the judge also wrote.
Around the same time, a judge released the full Fulton County grand jury report, which in February recommended that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), and former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), among others, be charged in connection to the case. Ms. Willis opted not to charge them.
In response, Mr. Graham, the former head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denied any wrongdoing and said that a phone call he had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after the 2020 election was appropriate and within his duties as a senator in charge of the committee.
“It should never be a crime for a federal elected official, particularly the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will have to vote to certify a presidential election, to question and ensure the integrity of that election,” he told reporters on Sept. 8.
Mrs. Loeffler wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that she was merely speaking for people who felt that the 2020 election was conducted in an unfair manner. “Trying to jail your party’s leading political opponent ahead of 2024 is election interference. Speaking out in defense of election integrity is not,” she wrote last week.