When President Donald J. Trump’s eldest son took the stage outside the Georgia Republican Party headquarters two days after the 2020 election, he likened what lay ahead to mortal combat.
“Americans need to know this is not a banana republic!” Donald Trump Jr. shouted, claiming that Georgia and other swing states had been overrun by wild electoral shenanigans. He described tens of thousands of ballots that had “magically” shown up around the country, all marked for Joseph R. Biden Jr., and others dumped by Democratic officials into “one big box” so their authenticity could not be verified.
Mr. Trump told his father’s supporters at the news conference — who broke into chants of “Stop the steal!” and “Fraud! Fraud!” — that “the number one thing that Donald Trump can do in this election is fight each and every one of these battles, to the death!”
Over the two months that followed, a vast effort unfolded on behalf of the lame-duck president to overturn the election results in swing states across the country. But perhaps nowhere were there as many attempts to intervene as in Georgia, where Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, is now poised to bring an indictment for a series of brazen moves made on behalf of Mr. Trump in the state after his loss and for lies that the president and his allies circulated about the election there.
Mr. Trump has already been indicted three times this year, most recently in a federal case brought by the special prosecutor Jack Smith that is also related to election interference. But the Georgia case may prove the most expansive legal challenge to Mr. Trump’s attempts to cling to power, with nearly 20 people informed that they could face charges.
It could also prove the most enduring: While Mr. Trump could try to pardon himself from a federal conviction if he were re-elected, presidents cannot pardon state crimes.
Perhaps above all, the Georgia case assembled by Ms. Willis offers a vivid reminder of the extraordinary lengths taken by Mr. Trump and his allies to exert pressure on local officials to overturn the election — an up-close portrait of American democracy tested to its limits. [Continue reading…]