Legal experts: "Almost certain" that Trump will be hit with new charges over the summer

"There is no other reason" to warn law enforcement except a Trump indictment, ex-prosecutor says

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published May 3, 2023 1:37PM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump during a round of golf at his Turnberry course on May 2, 2023 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump during a round of golf at his Turnberry course on May 2, 2023 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Robert Perry/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump's likely to be indicted for a second time in Georgia this summer, legal experts say.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has been investigating Trump's attempt to reverse his Georgia defeat in the 2020 election, formally wrote to local Sheriff Patrick Labat asking to increase security from June 11 to Sept. 1, which is when she plans to announce decisions on charges stemming from her extensive probe.

Willis said she wanted local officials to prepare for a "significant public reaction" to the announcement.

"We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence that will endanger the safety of our community," she reportedly wrote. "As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to prepare." 

Legal experts say that Willis wouldn't request the extra security if she didn't plan to indict Trump.

"The Fulton DA's letter makes it almost certain that Trump is getting indicted," Titus Nichols, an Atlanta defense lawyer and former Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office prosecutor, told Vice News. "There is no other reason to send something in writing to the sheriff."

Andrew Weissman, a legal analyst for MSNBC and former lead prosecutor for Robert Mueller's special counsel's office, expanded on this idea, questioning why Willis didn't write "something shorter and sweeter" if she didn't intend to charge Trump.

"Willis is highly unlikely to issue this letter if she's not fully intending to charge Donald Trump, as opposed to not bringing charges against him or bringing charges only against lower-level figures," Weissmann wrote for MSNBC. "Why not write something shorter and sweeter that kicks the can down the road, if you are not anticipating a fight over an upcoming indictment?"

Trump was indicted in April by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg's Office for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to the hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Bragg's office reportedly received racist death threats during the aftermath, including one that came in an envelope containing a white powder that was later proclaimed harmless. The former president tacked onto the vitriol, accusing Bragg and Willis, who are both Black, of being "racist" in pursuing the investigations and politically targeting him. 

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Trump's Atlanta lawyers released a statement in response to comments about the significance of Willis' letter.

"The public release of this letter does nothing more than set forth a potential timetable for decisions the Fulton County District Attorney's Office previously announced would be coming," the attorneys wrote. "On behalf of President Trump, we filed a substantive legal challenge for which the D.A.'s Office has yet to respond. We look forward to litigating that comprehensive motion which challenges the deeply flawed legal process and the ability of the conflicted D.A's Office to make any charging decisions at all." 

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in these cases.

He is also the subject of two other federal investigations, led by special counsel Jack Smith, for attempts to stay in power despite his 2020 defeat and potentially breaking the law by keeping sensitive government documents at Mar-a-Lago.

These possible indictments threaten to eclipse the GOP primary frontrunner's bid for the presidency in 2024, increasing the likelihood that he'll begin the general election facing criminal charges in at least two districts.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Brief Donald Trump Fani Willis Politics