June 13, 2024 2:37 pm

Trump Georgia co-defendant John Eastman turns himself in

Two people accused of conspiring with ex-President Donald Trump in the state of Georgia have turned themselves in to face charges of election interference.

John Eastman, one of 19 co-defendants named in the Georgia indictment, faces nine counts of racketeering and conspiracy.

Another defendant, Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, has also turned himself in to local officials.

Mr Trump is expected to surrender on Thursday on the 13 charges against him.

The Fulton County district attorney’s office last week charged the former president and 18 allies with attempting to overturn his electoral defeat in the closely contested state in 2020.

Prosecutors have set a deadline of Friday noon local time for each defendant to surrender and be booked into the Atlanta jail.

Prosecutors consider Mr Eastman, 63, a key figure in the plot to meddle with the 2020 election results.

The California law professor represented the former president in a lawsuit trying to overturn election results in four states he lost in 2020.

In Georgia, he is alleged to be part of a plan to urge state senators to disregard the election results and appoint fake electors.

On Tuesday, he was released on a $100,000 (£78,500) bond agreement after being booked and spending a couple of hours inside the jail.

In a statement, Mr Eastman claimed that the Georgia case “targets attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients, something attorneys are ethically bound to provide”.

He promised to “vigorously contest every count of the indictment in which I am named, and also every count in which others are named”.

Asked by reporters outside court if he still believes the 2020 election was stolen, Mr Eastman responded: “Absolutely, no question in my mind.”

The lawyer’s post-election actions are currently the focus of disciplinary proceedings by the State Bar of California and could see him lose his law licence there. Hearings set for this week were delayed ahead of his surrender in Fulton County.

Mr Eastman is also mentioned, but not named, in a separate federal indictment on election subversion charges filed this month by Special Counsel Jack Smith, a US justice department-appointed investigator.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hall became the first defendant in the Georgia case to turn himself in.

The bail bondsman from Atlanta faces seven charges related to his alleged involvement in a voting systems breach in Coffee County in January 2021.

Having signed a $10,000 bond agreement, Mr Hall was released after about an hour at the jail.

Other co-accused, including alleged fake electors Shawn Still and David Shafer, have also negotiated bail agreements through their lawyers.

On Tuesday afternoon, one of the defendants, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, filed court papers asking a judge for an immediate ruling on a bid to move his case from Fulton County to a federal court, or – alternatively – issue an order shielding him from arrest in Georgia.

The filing comes after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis denied a request to delay Mr Meadows’ arrest. An email from Ms Willis included in the filing said Mr Meadows “is no different than any other criminal defendant in this jurisdiction”.

A similar request was made by former justice department official Jeffrey Clark earlier. Attorneys for both men have argued that their alleged actions should be handled by the federal court system, as they were federal officials at their time of their alleged involvement in the case.

The Georgia case is the latest in a series of criminal indictments filed against Mr Trump.

Prosecutors in Fulton County accuse him of scheming to subvert the will of the state’s electorate following his narrow loss there to Democrat Joe Biden.

Mr Trump was granted a $200,000 bond as well as other release conditions, such as being barred from using social media to directly or indirectly threaten alleged co-conspirators or potential witnesses.

The former president, however, has drawn criticism for not paying the legal fees of his co-defendants in the case.

One of them, ex-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that “this has became a bigger principle than just one man. So why isn’t MAGA, Inc funding everyone’s defense?”

Another former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, now a fierce critic of his former boss, told CNN on Tuesday that Mr Trump was not paying the fees of another former attorney, ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The BBC has contacted Mr Giuliani’s lawyer for comment.

In a Monday night post on his Truth Social platform, the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election reiterated his claim that the case was a politically motivated attempt to thwart his bid to challenge Mr Biden for the White House.

The ex-president also faces 78 charges across three other criminal cases, including an investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

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