Trump, booked for the first time with a mugshot and bail

This Thursday night Donald Trump turned himself in at an Atlanta jail to render accounts before justice after being accused of participating in a criminal organization to alter the results of the 2020 presidential elections that the former president lost. It is the fourth time that he has gone through this process, and the first time that he has been filed as another defendant including his mugshot.

Fani Willis, the pioneering Georgia prosecutor who puts Trump on the ropes


Trump arrived at the last minute at the Fulton County prison, on the outskirts of Atlanta and which has been denounced for violence, unsanitary conditions, overcrowding and delay in processing suspects, jailed for months without charges. Federal authorities are investigating several wrongful deaths there.

But, as planned, Trump barely spent 20 minutes in jail, where he was booked, with his photo taken, his fingerprints and his basic identification data, including physical ones: height, 1.9 meters; weight, 97 kilos; hair, “blonde or strawberry”. Following the agreed procedure, he was immediately released after paying the bail of 200,000 dollars (about 185,000 euros), which he also deposited for the first time. As part of the agreement to keep his freedom with charges, Trump also agrees not to attack or threaten witnesses or other defendants on social media now.

His mugshot (mugshot, in English) on a token is the first extant of its kind from a former President of the United States. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who was also a prosecutor and mayor of New York, has already turned himself in this week and has been booked as well as other defendants in the case. A few days ago, the Fulton district sheriff assured that “normal practices” would be followed. “It doesn’t matter what status you have. We will have the mugshot set up,” he said. In a later interview, Trump said being photographed like the other defendants had been “uncomfortable.”

The former president returned to Twitter (now known as X) to post his mugshot. It was the first message from him since Elon Musk, the owner, lifted the veto applied by the company in November after the assault on the Capitol in January 2021.

Trump has already been prosecuted and has turned himself in three other times – in New York, Miami and Washington – for falsifying documents of a campaign bribe to a former lover, for taking and hiding classified documents and for encouraging the assault on the Capitol. In those cases, the local authorities took his fingerprints and completed other paperwork, but they avoided signing him with his photo even when, as in the case of Miami, there was no exception that he could claim. In any case, the Trump campaign has been selling T-shirts and other paraphernalia with the false image of the former president’s mugshot that until now did not exist since April. The defendant had not had to pay bail in the three previous processes either.

The most difficult one

The Georgia case arose from a specific incident, the call on January 2, 2021 of more than an hour from Trump to the person in charge of administering the elections in this state, the Republican Brad Raffensperger: the still president asked him to “find” the votes he lacked to win in Georgia and threatened him if he did not follow his dictates. Now it is the most extensive case, in scope, charges and number of people accused -Trump and 18 other collaborators-, which the former president faces.

The prosecutor, Fani Willis, has used the law with which organized crime by mafia groups and other networks is usually combated for a common criminal objective, in this case, to reverse Trump’s electoral defeat. The former president and the rest of the defendants face 41 charges (Trump, 13) for conspiring to violate the law, lying, falsifying documents, pressuring public officials and witnesses, stealing electoral data and tampering with voting machines.

It is the case that most fully exposes what happened before, during and after the 2020 election. Under Georgia rules, if Trump and others are convicted, the president of the United States, whoever he is, cannot grant them forgiveness and neither can the state governor do it, as happens in other parts of the country.

Prosecutor Willis has requested this Thursday that the trial begin on October 23 for the 19 defendants after a former Trump lawyer who is among the defendants requested a speedy trial thinking that the prosecutor would not be prepared. In any case, the trial is expected to last for months and coincide with the peak of the campaign for the elections on November 5, 2024.

To jail?

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents Trump from continuing to run even after a jail sentence — and there is precedent from a century ago for a socialist candidate to run. If he were elected president after a conviction this would spark an unprecedented constitutional debate.

In any case, it is unlikely that Trump will end up in jail due to the political pressure to find another way out for the Republican who is currently the party’s primary favorite to face Biden next year.

“Even if convicted, the law allows the judge to choose between imprisoning a person for a minimum of five years, when the sentence is between five and 20 years, or imposing a fine instead,” Caren explains to Morrison, a Georgia State University law professor and a former prosecutor in New York. “So I don’t think there’s any chance in any universe of Trump going to Georgia state prison.”

Morrison believes that the use of the law to prosecute a criminal organization by the prosecutor Willis has been a success – she would also have resorted to this legal tool as a prosecutor – but the case will be complex because of it. “This could be more than a year. This is going to be very long,” she says.

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