Georgia judge sets bond at $200,000 for former US President Donald Trump

Trump has announced on social media that he plans to arrive in Georgia to surrender himself to authorities on Thursday.

A close-up of the upper-half of Donald Trump's head. He wears his trademark red cap, which reads: "Make America Great Again."
Former US President Donald Trump faces charges under the state of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

A judge in the state of Georgia has set a bond of $200,000 for former United States President Donald Trump, as he faces charges of attempting to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee approved the bond agreement on Monday, according to court filings. The agreement shortly before Trump announced he would surrender himself to Georgia authorities on Thursday.

“Can you believe it? I’ll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday to be ARRESTED by a Radical Left District Attorney, Fani Willis,” Trump said in a social media post on Monday afternoon.

The bond agreement sets out strict rules for Trump’s behaviour in the lead-up to trial. He is barred, for example, from making any “direct or indirect threat” against those involved in the case.

“The Defendant shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him or her to be codefendant or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice,” the bond order reads.

It further specifies that Trump cannot communicate with any witness or codefendant about the facts of the case except through his legal counsel. The terms of the agreement pertain not only to in-person dealings but also to “posts on social media or reposts”.

Trump has been known to use his Truth Social platform to criticise judges, prosecutors and witnesses involved in the numerous lawsuits he faces.

They include Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney leading the Georgia case, whom the Trump campaign has called a “ribald partisan” and “corrupt” in online posts.

Willis filed charges against Trump and 18 others on August 14, using Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act to cast a broad net of allegations.

The RICO Act is often used to crack down on organised crime, and in the indictment, prosecutors allege Trump and his allies masterminded a criminal “enterprise” to allow him to retain power.

Trump lost the presidential race in 2020, after his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, picked up key battleground states like Georgia. But Trump and his allies have since insisted, without evidence, that the election was riddled with fraud.

The Georgia indictment – the fourth criminal indictment against the Republican leader – alleges this developed into a “conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump”.

Trump faces 13 felony charges related to the Georgia indictment, which were tallied together to determine the $200,000 total.

For his alleged violation of the RICO Act, an $80,000 bond was set. Each of the additional 12 counts — including criminal conspiracy, filing false documents and criminal solicitation — was given a bond amount of $10,000 a piece.

Trump has denied the charges against him, dismissing the indictments as a “witch hunt” designed to derail his 2024 campaign for the presidency.

He leads the race for the Republican nomination by a wide margin, with an Emerson College poll released on August 19 positioning him with 56 percent of the party’s support.

It is the first time Trump has had to pay a cash bond as the result of one of his indictments. In the US legal system, bonds often act as collateral to ensure defendants will appear for trial.

Usually, defendants are only required to pay a percentage of the bond, though the costs can still be steep, particularly for those with fewer financial resources.

Lawyers for one of Trump’s most prominent co-defendants, Rudy Giuliani, have told a court in a separate defamation case that the former mayor is struggling to pay his bills. US media has also reported that Giuliani appealed to Trump himself for financial help.

Trump and his co-defendants in the Georgia case face a deadline of Friday to voluntarily surrender to the Fulton County Jail, where they will be booked, a process where police gather fingerprints, photos and personal information to create an arrest record.

In announcing that he would surrender on Thursday, Trump took the opportunity to once again blast Willis for pursuing the case against him.

“She campaigned, and is continuing to campaign, and raise money on, this WITCH HUNT,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “It is all about ELECTION INTERFERENCE!”

Trump also faces federal election interference charges as well as another federal indictment for allegedly mishandling classified documents.

In April, Trump became the first US president, current or former, to face criminal charges after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accused him of falsifying business records in a state-level case regarding hush money allegedly paid during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Source: Al Jazeera