Prospect MagazineProspect Magazine

Is Trump going down?

By Dahlia Lithwick

4 min read

informed Summary

  1. In a twist of irony, former President Donald Trump may face his most significant legal challenge yet, not from his 2020 election loss or the Capitol attack he endorsed in 2021, but from a racketeering charge filed under a Georgia conspiracy statute, the author writes.

The irony is almost too on-the-nose. In the end, what will probably bring Donald J Trump to heel will not be his election loss in 2020; an attack on the US Capitol he winkingly endorsed in 2021; or even the indictment—and never-to-be-resolved federal lawsuit—outlining stolen documents hoarded in his chandeliered bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago. What may well end his long life of failing forever upward is a racketeering charge—filed under a sprawling Georgia conspiracy statute that mimics the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This latter statute was a law passed in 1970 to make it easier to prosecute Mafia kingpins, who were able to evade criminal liability so long as they ensured it was someone else breaking the fingers and dumping the bodies into rivers.

That Trump surrogate and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who made his political bones as a federal prosecutor in New York using these very laws to take down mob bosses and insider traders, has now been swept into a vast RICO indictment filed by a Georgia prosecutor is beyond ironic. But that Trump himself has been charged alongside 18 co-conspirators (plus 30 unindicted co-conspirators) on 13 counts—including racketeering, making false statements, soliciting public officials, and otherwise attempting to overturn his loss in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election by dint of organised crime—is a perfect capstone to his long and storied career of evading legal consequences.

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