Former US President Donald Trump was arrested at a Georgia jail Thursday on racketeering and conspiracy charges and released on a $200,000 bond after having a historic mug shot taken.
Trump, who is accused of colluding with 18 other defendants to overturn the 2020 election result in the southern state, spent less than 30 minutes inside Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail before leaving in a motorcade for the airport.
Like the other defendants in the case who have surrendered so far, the 77-year-old Trump had his mug shot taken during the booking process — a first for any serving or former US president.
In the photograph released by the sheriff’s office, he scowled at the camera while dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie.
Speaking to reporters after his arrest, Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said it was a “very sad day for America.”
“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice,” he said. “I did nothing wrong.”
Trump posted the mug shot on his own Truth Social platform with the caption “Election Interference” and a link to his campaign website.
A short while later, he also posted it on X — formerly Twitter, which was Trump’s favourite bullhorn until he was banned from it after the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters.
New owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump on X in November of last year, but Trump stayed away and posted instead on Truth Social. This was Trump’s first post since 2021 on what had been Twitter.
Trump was given the inmate number “PO1135809” by the Fulton County Jail, which listed his height as six foot three inches (1.9 meters), his weight as 215 pounds (97 kilograms) and his hair colour as “Blond or Strawberry.”
The billionaire has been criminally indicted four times since April, setting the stage for a year of unprecedented drama as he tries to juggle multiple court appearances and another White House campaign.
Trump was able to dodge having a mugshot taken during his previous arrests this year: in New York on charges of paying hush money to a porn star, in Florida for mishandling top secret government documents, and in Washington on charges of conspiring to upend his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
His arrest came one day after Trump spurned a televised debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, featuring eight of his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, all of whom lag well behind him in the polls.
He still stole the spotlight, though, with all but two of the candidates saying they would support him as the party’s nominee even if he were a convicted felon.
– Court dates in election race –
A tight security perimeter was set up for Trump’s booking at the Fulton County Jail, which is under investigation for a slew of inmate deaths and deplorable conditions.
Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney who filed the sweeping racketeering case, had set a deadline of noon on Friday for Trump and the other 18 defendants to surrender.
Trump and 11 others have turned themselves in so far.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered on Thursday and was released on $100,000 bond.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer when he was in the White House and vigorously pushed the false claims that Trump had won the 2020 election, was booked and released on Wednesday.
John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who is accused of drawing up a scheme to submit a false slate of Trump electors to Congress from Georgia instead of the legitimate Biden ones, has also been booked and released.
A few dozen supporters of the former Republican president gathered outside the jail, including Sharon Anderson, who spent the night in her car.
“I think this is political persecution, and now that’s turned into a political prosecution,” Anderson told AFP.
Trump is the first US president in history to face criminal charges.
His various trials, if they take place next year, may coincide with the Republican presidential primary season, which begins in January, and the campaign for the November 2024 White House election.
Special counsel Jack Smith has proposed a January 2024 start date for Trump’s trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the last election with a lie-fueled campaign that culminated in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
Trump’s attorneys have countered with a suggested start date well after the election — April 2026.
Willis, the Georgia district attorney, initially proposed that the racketeering case begin in March next year, the same month Trump is scheduled to go on trial in New York on charges of paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.
On Thursday, after one of the defendants asked for a speedy trial, she proposed that it begin for all 19 in October of this year, a move met with an immediate objection from Trump’s lawyers.
The Florida case, in which Trump is accused of taking secret government documents as he left the White House and refusing to return them, is scheduled to begin in May.