ATLANTA (AP) — Donald Trump will surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday on charges that he plotted to overturn that state’s 2020 election, a booking process expected to yield a historic first: A police photo of a former American president.
Trump’s arrival follows a presidential debate with his main rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination, a battle in which he remains the leading nominee despite growing legal troubles. His presence in the state, while likely short-lived, is expected to at least temporarily take the spotlight away from his opponents in the wake of a debate in which other candidates tried to use Trump’s absence to improve their own presidential prospects.
The Fulton County prosecution is Trump’s fourth criminal case since March, when he became the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted. He has since faced federal charges in Florida and Washington, and this month was charged in Atlanta along with 18 others — including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani — under an racketeering statute that normally associated with gang members and organized crime.
The criminal cases have led to a succession of bookings and indictments, with Trump briefly appearing in court before returning to the campaign trail. He has turned the appearances into campaign events with a much lighter schedule than his rivals, with staff happy with the wall-to-wall media coverage, including news helicopters following his every move.
The campaign has also used the appearances to solicit fundraising contributions from its supporters, while aides paint the allegations as part of a politically motivated effort to hurt his re-election chances.
However, his performance in Atlanta will be unlike others, forcing him to surrender in a trouble-ridden prison — but with no accompanying appearance in court for now. Unlike other cities where he was not required to pose for a police photo, Fulton County officials have said they expect to take a booking photo as they would for any other defendant.
“Unless someone tells me otherwise, we’re following our normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter what your status is, we’ve got a mugshot ready for you,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said at a news conference earlier this month.
District Attorney Fani Willis has given all defendants until Friday afternoon to surrender at Fulton County Central Penitentiary.
Trump has repeatedly denied all allegations. He said in a social media post this week that he was being prosecuted for what he described in all caps as a “perfect phone call” asking Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help him “find enough votes” for him to reverse his loss in the state to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump is expected to turn himself in at the Fulton County Jail, which has long been a problematic prison. The Justice Department opened a civil rights inquiry into the circumstances last month, citing dirty cells, violence and the death last year of a man whose body was found covered in insects in the psychiatric wing of the main prison. In the past month, three people have died in custody in Fulton County.
But it is expected that he will not spend much time there.
His lawyers and prosecutors have already agreed to bail of $200,000, along with terms that include a ban on harassing co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case — including on social media.
When defendants arrive at the prison, they typically pass through a security check before checking in for a 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 bail has already been set, he will be released once the booking process is complete.
Unlike other jurisdictions, in Fulton County charges – where a defendant appears in court for the first time – generally occur after a defendant has surrendered in jail and completed the booking process, not on the same day. That means Trump may have to make two trips to Georgia in the coming weeks, though the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has said some charges in the case could take place virtually if the judge allows it, or he could waive Trump’s charges. .
When he eventually appears in court, the public will also likely see much more of the proceedings firsthand. Courts in Georgia typically allow photos and videos of the proceedings, unlike federal court and in New York, where press access is tightly controlled.
Only in Manhattan were photographers allowed to briefly capture images of Trump while he was on the witness stand. Federal courts generally prohibit photography, recordings, and electronics of any kind.