Former President Donald J. Trump surrendered at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta on Thursday and was booked on 13 felony charges for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss in Georgia.
It was an extraordinary scene: a former U.S. president who flew on his own jet to Atlanta and surrendered at a jail compound surrounded by concertina wire and signs that directed visitors to the “prisoner intake” area.
As Mr. Trump’s motorcade of black S.U.V.s drove to the jail through cleared streets, preceded by more than a dozen police motorcycles — a trip captured by news helicopters and broadcast live on national television — two worlds collided in ways never before seen in American political history. The nation’s former commander in chief walked into a notorious jail, one that has been cited in rap lyrics and is the subject of a Department of Justice investigation into unsanitary and unsafe conditions, including allegations that an “incarcerated person died covered in insects and filth.”
The case is the fourth brought against Mr. Trump this year, but Thursday was the first time that he was booked at a jail.
Mr. Trump spent about 20 minutes there, submitting to some of the routines of criminal defendant intake. He was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken. He was assigned an identification number, P01135809. But the process was faster than for most defendants; minutes after he entered the jail, Mr. Trump’s record appeared in Fulton County’s booking system, which listed him as having “blond or strawberry” hair, a height of 6 feet 3 inches and a weight of 215 pounds — 24 pounds less than the White House doctor reported Mr. Trump weighing in 2018.
His form was filled out in advance by aides, according to someone familiar with the preparations, not by officials at the jail.
Outside, supporters and detractors of Mr. Trump had gathered all day in the swampy Atlanta heat. The news media was kept at bay. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office barred reporters from accessing the parking lot in front of the jail’s main entrance, a break with tradition.
Before leaving Atlanta on his plane, Mr. Trump was defiant. The Georgia case, he said, was a “travesty of justice.”
“We have every right to challenge an election we think is dishonest,” he said.
The former president’s bond in the case was set at $200,000 on Monday, and he used a commercial bondsman, Charles Shaw of Foster Bail Bonds, to post his bond in exchange for $20,000, the bondsman confirmed.
In a last minute shake-up of his legal team before he surrendered on Thursday, Mr. Trump hired Steven H. Sadow, a veteran criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta whose clients have included prominent rappers. In a filing to the court, Mr. Sadow said he was now “lead counsel of record for Donald John Trump.”
Lawyers on both sides of the case filed a flurry of legal motions on Thursday. After one of the 19 defendants, the lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, demanded a speedy trial, Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney who is prosecuting the case, asked a judge to set a trial date of Oct. 23, months earlier than she had originally sought.
Mr. Trump objected to that timing, an indication that he wants to move more slowly. The judge approved the October trial date, but only for Mr. Chesebro. The ultimate date of any trial, however, will not be clear until efforts by some of the defendants to move the case to federal court are resolved.
Mr. Trump is at the top of the list of 19 defendants in the indictment released last week. Prosecutors used a state version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, that they hope will allow them to show the ways in which Mr. Trump and several of his allies worked together toward the common goal of seeking to overturn the results of the election in Georgia.
The RICO statute is often used against the mafia and street gangs. In the Georgia indictment, Mr. Trump and his co-defendants are accused of impersonating a public officer, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, conspiracy to defraud the state and “acts involving theft,” among other crimes.
The indictment lays out the broadest set of accusations leveled against the former president so far. Georgia’s racketeering law can carry criminal penalties of between five and 20 years in prison.
It is the second case centered on Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Jack Smith, the special counsel, brought the other, a federal case, earlier in August.
Ms. Willis began her investigation after a recording of Mr. Trump was released in which he told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, that he wanted to “find” 11,780 votes, one more than he needed to win the state and its Electoral College votes. Mr. Trump later described the call to Mr. Raffensperger as “absolutely perfect.”
His defiance in the face of the four cases lodged against him has provided political oxygen for his campaign and a significant fund-raising windfall.
After his first indictment in March, which charged him in a hush-money scheme to cover up a potential sex scandal, Mr. Trump’s campaign reported raising $15 million in the two weeks that followed.
In June, an indictment in Miami that centered on classified documents was followed by $7 million in fund-raising, Mr. Trump’s campaign reported.
Hours before he was set to be booked on Thursday, Mr. Trump sent out a fund-raising email. “This arrest — and every one of these four sham indictments,” he wrote, “have all been designed to strike fear into the hearts of the American people, to intimidate you out of voting to save your country and ultimately, to interfere in the 2024 election.”
In four recent polls, a majority of respondents said the criminal charges against Mr. Trump were warranted. But at the same time, Mr. Trump’s standing among Republican voters is strong, and he is holding onto a considerable lead against his Republican primary rivals.
He declined to take part in the first primary debate of the 2024 campaign on Wednesday, which featured eight of Mr. Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination. Bret Baier, one of the debate’s moderators on Fox News, quipped that Mr. Trump was the “elephant not in the room.”
Mr. Trump is also neck and neck against President Biden in recent polls. A Quinnipiac University poll this month showed him trailing Mr. Biden by a single percentage point, 47 percent to 46 percent, in a hypothetical rematch. Mr. Biden’s advantage was five percentage points in July.
Outside the Fulton County jail, supporters of Mr. Trump came early in the day, hoping for a glimpse of the former president. Rick Hearn, 44, an Atlanta accountant, brought a poster with him that showed an image of Mr. Trump next to one of Nelson Mandela, with the label “political prisoners.”
“I feel like I needed to be a part of this,” Mr. Hearn said,
“Those in charge,” he added, need to know that they cannot “take away our rights and get away with it.”
Alan Feuer, Neil Vigdor, Ruth Igielnik, Maggie Haberman, Sean Keenan, Anna Betts and Christian Boone contributed reporting.
Richard Fausset is a correspondent based in Atlanta. He mainly writes about the American South, focusing on politics, culture, race, poverty and criminal justice. He previously worked at The Los Angeles Times, including as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City. More about Richard Fausset
Danny Hakim is an investigative reporter. He has been a European economics correspondent and bureau chief in Albany and Detroit. He was also a lead reporter on the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. More about Danny Hakim
Thomas Fuller is the San Francisco bureau chief. Before moving to California he reported from more than 40 countries for The Times and International Herald Tribune, mainly in Europe and Southeast Asia. More about Thomas Fuller
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