The Various Kinds of Georgia Crimes in the RICO Indictment

There’s so much good reporting out of Georgia that I’m going to mostly leave close coverage of the Georgia case to them going forward.

But the Georgia prosecution will interact with Jack Smith’s ongoing investigation in interesting ways. To explain how, I want to first show that the indictment is, fundamentally, about protecting the integrity of Georgia’s government and elections. To see that, it helps to read counts 2 through 41 before reading the RICO charge, which is laid out in 70 pages describing 161 overt acts, many of which took place outside of Georgia.

Those counts fall into the following groups:

Lies to and solicitation of Georgia officials

Count 2 though Count 7: False claims and illegal requests made, many by Rudy Giuliani, before the fake electors scheme. These were lies told to official bodies of Georgia state government, and charging them is an attempt to prevent corruption in state government.

Count 23 through Count 26 charge Rudy, Ray Smith, and Robert Cheeley with false claims and solicitations on December 30 — similar in structure and purpose to Counts 2 through 7.

Count 28 charges both Trump and Mark Meadows for the January 2 call to Brad Raffensperger. Count 29 charges Trump for the lies he told during the call.

Counts 38 and 39 charge Trump with lies and solicitations of Brad Raffensperger on September 17, 2021.

Fake electors

Count 8 through Count 19: These are a series of six paired charges tied to various kinds of fraud involved with the fake electors. In each pair, the first count charges David Shafer, Shawn Still, and Cathleen Latham for doing the fraudulent thing, and the second count charges Trump, Rudy, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Ray Smith, Robert Cheeley, and Mike Roman with soliciting the fraudulent thing. They’re a near parallel to the Michigan charges against the fake electors, except that in Georgia only the three most culpable fake electors are charged, and there’s a mirror charge for Trump’s side of the conspiracy.

Attempts to entrap Ruby Freeman

Counts 20 and 21 and : These charge two efforts to defraud Ruby Freeman by offering her help when in fact they were an attempt to entrap her.

Count 30 and Count 31 charge aspects of a plot to get Kanye’s publicist to travel from Illinois to Georgia to entrap Ruby Freeman into making false claims.

Lies about Georgia

Count 22 charges Jeffrey Clark for his attempts to get DOJ to claim the Georgia election was fraudulent.

Count 27 charges Trump and Eastman with lying about Georgia’s results in a lawsuit.

Tampering with Coffee County tabulators

Count 32 through Count 37 charge Sidney Powell, Latham, and two others for tampering with the Coffee County vote tabulators. Again, this has a parallel in the Michigan charges against Matt DePerno and two others.

Lies during the investigation

Count 40 charges David Shafer with false statements told during the investigation.

Count 41 charges Robert Cheeley with perjury for false claims made during the investigation.

As I understand it, these are the charges on which the RICO conspiracy is built. The RICO conspiracy gives prosecutors additional tools and penalties with which to prosecute this (similar to the conspiracy law charged at the federal level). But ultimately it is built on a series of crimes charged to protect the integrity of Georgia’s government. They stand for the principle that you can’t simply come into Georgia and lie and defraud in an attempt to get state officials to violate their oaths of office.

Update: Corrected spelling of Cheeley’s last name.

161 replies
  1. JVOJVOJVO says:

    EW, are there any particular GA reporting sources (other than AJC and Tribune) you recommend, please?

  2. Mike_15AUG2023_0804h says:

    I don’t understand how unindicted co-conspiritors work in one case who are indicted in the other.
    Does this chill them testifying for Jack Smith so they aren’t hit in Georgia?

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  3. Don Cooley says:

    Excellent writeup of an obviously excellent job by DA Willis and her team. The scumsucking bastards picked the wrong state to mess with, didn’t they?

    • klynn says:

      Of all the states to take this on, it is perfect on one level.

      It is home to The Democracy Program at the Carter Center:

      “…but recently we have begun using the expertise we developed abroad to help address problems in the United States. The Center’s Democracy Program is supporting U.S. elections by bolstering democratic norms and values, increasing trust and understanding of the electoral process, and responding to the challenges posed by mis-, dis- and mal-information.”

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Interestingly enough (or perhaps not), just yesterday I read in Jonathan Alter’s biography of Jimmy Carter, “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life” that the reason the Carter Center does not monitor American elections is because it has a longstanding policy that it won’t monitor elections “in any country that lacks a formalized national postelection process for dealing with voting irregularities.”

      • Ralph H white says:

        I was immensely proud of my home state in 2020, when they elected two Democratic Senators. Now, I am ecstatic that a criminal conspiracy headed by Donald Trump is being prosecuted. I have been embarrassed by some of the people from my state in the past and continue to be, but this is an historic milestone and I’m going to celebrate it.

    • Capemaydave says:

      Interesting point – messing with the wrong state.

      One basis of the MAGA movement is the southern anti-DC attitude.

      Trump, in essence, is telling Georgians they screwed up. That Georgians cheated. That Georgians held a fraudulent election.

      I don’t think that will play well at all.

      • 0Alexander Platt0 says:

        Georgia is not a monolith. There’s a lot of people there who may be very receptive to being told that the people of Fulton County cheated them out of a Trump victory.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The people of one county “cheated” the people of other, less populated counties of victory by outvoting them and choosing their preferred candidate?

          That’s not about whether Georgia is a “monolith.” It’s about whether those aggrieved voters think their votes are the only ones that should count. What’s missing from your framing is the anti-democratic racism.

        • 0Alexander Platt0 says:

          “What’s missing from your framing is the anti-democratic racism.”

          I thought that was pretty clear.

        • 0Alexander Platt0 says:

          Between you and I I think the point’s been made, but to be explicit:

          Capemaydave posited that he thought Georgian MAGA voters would be upset with Trump for de-legitimizing their election. My response was intended as a reminder that the ~10 million non-Fulton, majority white Georgians with distinct MAGA tendencies could be perfectly happy to adopt a narrative that the ~1 million plurality black Fulton County residents are the aggrieving party, not Trump.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Capemaydave referred to the idea that not all “Georgians” would appreciate being told they screwed up, cheated, and held a fraudulent election. You referred to a “lot of people.” My point was that your comment needed the context that you’ve now provided.

    • punaise says:

      Georgia native / now California resident Ed Kilgore agrees:

      Georgia Is Trump’s Nightmare Jurisdiction

      But many of the key witnesses testifying to Trump’s criminality will be his fellow Republicans in a state that has defied his wishes again and again. Trump’s losing streak in the state began in 2020, when he lost the state narrowly to Joe Biden in an election result certified by Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, who administered the election, and recertified by Republican governor Brian Kemp.

      All in all, Georgia is the last place in America where Donald Trump should want to face the music for his misdeeds. He should have skipped committing election-related crimes in his nightmare state…

  4. obsessed says:

    Thanks! This is a perfect guide to understanding this massive indictment. Any thoughts on the strategy going forward of
    Meadows and his lawyer?

  5. phred says:

    Thanks for this post EW. It’s important for states (and counties, bmaz ; ) to defend the integrity of their elections and governance in general. I’m delighted to see these charges and look forward to the case in MI and hope the other states follow, if warranted.

    • Ruthie2the says:

      Despite the Republican officials who stood up against the coup attempt there, it seems likely that indictments would have been far more likely to come from the GA AG’s office if he wasn’t a Republican. As in the MI indictment, it would probably be more appropriate (but IANAL, so that’s my WAG).

      • FBG3lovesSJ says:

        I believe that the AG was a witness and can not participate in the process other than as a witness. He may not, as a R, have chosen to pursue charges, but isn’t his call.

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  6. BriceFNC says:

    Agree strongly! Even in podunk places (and Fulton County isn’t Third World America) it is crucial to defend election integrity!

    • wa_rickf says:

      When our democracy is threatened, states and/or local jurisdictions have a responsibility in protecting it.

  7. Ebenezer Scrooge says:

    I suppose that the unindicted co-conspirators are mostly of the avian variety, perched on various stools.

    • Tech Support says:

      This hadn’t occurred to me before, but Marcy’s breakdown suggests that Kanye West and his publicist could both be unindicted co-conspirators.

      It’s virtually guaranteed that the fake electors who have not been charged have all cooperated since the DA made the effort to immunize the lot of them.

  8. Peterr says:

    The Ruby Freeman-related charges caught my eye, because one of the reports last night noted that Stephen Lee is not just a pastor, but a Lutheran pastor. (A little digging found that he is pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a much more conservative body than my own Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – but a Lutheran pastor nevertheless.)


    Attempts to dig into his background, however, were not easy. He and those around him appear to have scrubbed websites where I’d expect to see him appear, like his former congregations. For some, like a former congregation, cleaning him off the website might be simply wanting to distance them from their former pastor. The only real mentions of him I came across all appeared in news stories about him or his activities.

    Reuters has a good general writeup of him and his attempts to intimidate Ruby Freeman from last September, which includes these nuggets:

    Reuters identified that chaplain as Lee through previously unreported police records and body camera footage showing police speaking with Lee outside Freeman’s home. Lee formerly worked as a policeman in California and later served as a chaplain comforting officers and others after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. A New York City Police Department spokesperson confirmed Lee’s work with its officers.

    Later on, Reuters adds this:

    Lee had a long career in law enforcement before he starting focusing on his ministry as a chaplain. He was a sergeant in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked from 1980 to 1987. According to his online biography, he also served as a special agent for the U.S. Navy’s law-enforcement arm, now known as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In 1996, he founded Peace Officer Ministries Inc, a Christian organization that serves officers and their families, and served as its executive director until January 2010, according to archived pages of the organization’s website.

    From 2016 to 2018, Lee led a “Quick Response Team,” sponsored by an Illinois Lutheran church, that provided chaplaincy support to law enforcement in crisis situations. On the team’s Twitter account, he posted a field report in February 2017 that included a photograph of himself outside Trump Tower. He said he “briefed a Trump transition team advisor on a volunteer federal law enforcement chaplaincy proposal.” He said Trump had “issued a clarion call to make America great again and drain the swamp,” urging support for “these noble goals.”

    In February 2018, his response team scaled down operations because of an opportunity he had found “to work more directly with the federal government” during the Trump administration, Lee wrote in a post to the organization’s supporters. Reuters could not confirm what work, if any, Lee did for the Trump administration.


    At the time, Bernard Kerik was New York City police commissioner and Rudy Giuliani was mayor. Both were deeply involved at the Ground Zero site, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed. And both men emerged after the 2020 election as prominent figures pushing Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in Fulton County.

    Like many of Trump’s supporters, Lee certainly appears to be a big self-promoter, as both Bernie and Rudy can’t recall knowing him. But if Willis has evidence about who Lee was sent by — and my money is on Rudy — things may get very uncomfortable for both of them.

    • pdaly says:

      Glad to see that Ruby Freeman will have her day in court as a witness and innocent victim of this conspiracy.

      Interesting background. Thanks for the details, Peterr.

      A Reuters article from Dec 2021 adds granularity to the Jan 4, 2021 attempt by (now indicted) Trevian Kutti and Harrison Floyd to get Ruby Freeman to make a false statement. Apparently they wanted Ruby to “confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail.” In this article, Freeman refers to Harrison Floyd as Harrison Ford.

      I suppose Lee was the unnamed man accompanying out-of-stater Kutti to Freeman’s home in the enclosed article.

      • pdaly says:

        I missed earlier your link to the Reuters 2022 article about Lee. I had not realized he had been to Freeman’s house at least twice, the first time without Kutti, the second time with Tutti.

        • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

          Tutti is Kanye West’s former publicist?!

          You just can’t make this stuff up.

          Thank you Peterr. Thank you EW.

        • JimmyAnderson says:

          This is awful.
          I know I read about the incident at the time, video was even available – but within the context of the Attempted Georgia ‘steal’ as a whole – individually, this was the most egregious and must have been so very, very frightening.

          Imagine – Trump focussing the ire of his Magats on you – as a 60+ year old person, just doing their duty and making a living.

          This – despicable.

        • pdaly says:

          Correction: looks like on Jan 4, 2021, Kutti was accompanied by a different man than Lee. (The GA indictment mentions Lee showed up at Freeman’s home on 12/15/20.)
          According to the 2022 Reuters article Peterr linked above:

          “On the evening of Jan. 4, Kutti showed up at Freeman’s home with another man, a Georgia representative of the campaign coalition Black Voices for Trump.”

          Is this Floyd or someone else? Harrison Floyd was associated with Black Voices for Trump, but Floyd joins Kutti’s conversation with Freeman by telephone (Kutti calls him) on 1/4/21 in the police station.

        • nord dakota says:

          Ruby is a heroine, and getting the conversation to happen at the PD was an awesome move. I think what they did and tried to do to her was by itself worth all the prosecutorial guns they could bring to this.

        • Midtowngirl says:

          Lee visited Ruby’s house both times solo. The first time was on the evening of Dec. 14, 2020, but she wasn’t home. He left a message for her with a neighbor.
          He showed up again the next morning, Dec. 15, pulling into her driveway in a red sedan. When he knocked, she didn’t answer the door but called 911. She called 911 again to cancel her request when he appeared to drive away.
          Ruby called 911 a third time a short while later, seeing that he had returned – this time parking a short distance down the street and remaining in his car. Body cam footage from the police responding to that call via Reuters:
          Reuters article:

          The unidentified man accompanying Kutti is described in the above article as a “Georgia representative of the campaign coalition Black Voices for Trump”. Kutti introduces him to Freeman as “an associate” in an officer’s bodycam video of their meeting at a local police station:

          He’s only mentioned in the call logs, but I’m really intrigued by Robert David Cheeley’s role in the Ruby Freeman intimidation scheme.
          His charge of False Statements and Writings comes from the Trump team’s Dec. 30th presentation to the GA Senate Judiciary Subcommittee. There, Cheeley steps in for Jenna Ellis and/or Jacki Pick, and presents the already debunked State Farm Arena/ Ruby Freeman false story.
          That presentation nonetheless was very successful in that it convinced the subcommittee to write a letter, that very same day, to the Fulton County Elections Board, requesting that officials comply with Cheeley’s already ongoing efforts to acquire Fulton County voting data.
          Then, six days later on Jan 5th, he’s on 16 of 23 calls made by the Ruby Freeman intimidation cell (Scott Hall, Harrison Floyd, and Trevian Kutti).

          I don’t know what it all means yet, but now that we have more pieces, this puzzle is becoming a lot more interesting!

      • GeeSizzle says:

        The interesting part of that article is that they buried a very important nugget all the way down in the last paragraph. The tactical use of the enraged mob, powered by Trump’s lies, was about to be unleashed on Ruby, and this was literally stated to her, and ultimately did occur. I hate to imagine the outcome if the FBI had not managed to inform Ruby that she was in danger and she had actually been at home on January 6.

        This tactic was clearly part of a larger strategy to use this method in many places and provides evidence that the riled-up normies on the Capitol ground were no spontaneous occurrence. It was a planned outcome. The only difference between this pressure and death threats against Pence is that it was used slightly before Jan 6, as a threat to induce her to falsely confess to election fraud so that they had some legal basis for their fake electors. It certainly seems the conspirators would have had no problem with having the mob ultimately attack and kill her on the 6th, even if it served no purpose that day, in the same way that they would have been fine with disposing of the VP if it got them what they wanted. These are truly sick people.

        • Hollygolightly says:

          Yes, I think this is exactly right. And sad to say, I don’t think they would have minded one bit if she had been killed by the mob. Then they could have pushed their narrative more readily. So vile! These innocent women had their lives upended. It broke my heart when she testified, “Do you know how it feels to have the President of the United States target you?” Wow! Also, Rudy’s slimy effort to admit he did lie about them, but, also not have any financial repercussions from that lie, says everything you need to know about these criminal conspirators.

      • JimmyAnderson says:

        This is awful.
        I know I read about the incident a the time, video was even available – but within the context of the Attempted Georgia ‘steal’ as a whole – individually, this was the most egregious and must have been so very, very frightening.

        Imagine – Trump focussing the ire of his Magats on you – as a 60+ year old person, just doing their duty and making a living.

        This – despicable.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Agree with harpie. And Peterr, my grandmother’s German family coming from the northern midwest means that “Lutheran” stands for something entirely distinct from MAGA in my mind. I get your *sigh*, my brother. But any denomination can be co-opted.

        • Hollygolightly says:

          This week, Russell Moore, who was a top official at the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and the current editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, spoke about the crisis unfolding in churches. Apparently, Jesus Christ’s own words are considered “liberal talking points” now among evangelicals. That is so tragic. Hard to believe that fealty to one man, so unworthy, has throughly corrupted whole congregations! It is mind boggling, and so very sad. American Christianity is more like Aryan Christianity for many!

        • Vicks says:

          The Christian Nationalist Movement is a dangerous money and power grab and they are pushing hard to normalize it.
          When people are taught to worship living people claiming to be prophets like NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) or declare spiritual warfare against Dems (Michael Flynn’s Reawaken American) you’ve completely lost “religion” and entered the world of for-profit cults.

    • John Lehman says:

      – but a Lutheran pastor nevertheless.)


      Sometimes…to paraphrase a quote from the French Revolution…those closest to the Church are furthest from God….

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      As a Sargent in the Mendocino County Sherriff’s Dept., he would have been up to his eyebrows in busting heads of marijuana growers. It was the Wild West for sure there at that time. I can easily see the self righteous attitude that led him to his intimidation of Ruby Freeman and her daughter.

      We know Mendocino County ranchers, growers and at that time various law enforcement members. My Father-in-law was on the Mendocino County Mounted Sherriff’s Posse that searched for people by horseback. I would bet money that he interacted with Lee. It is a very politically divided area.

    • MsJennyMD says:

      “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. He targeted me. A proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of a pandemic.”
      Ruby Freeman testifying to Jan 6th committee

  9. Playdohglobe says:

    Thank you Marcy for all you do..excellent insight and intelligent promotion of useful information.

    IANAL. – I have heard people many times disparage lawyers. They trash them and use true stories to trash an entire profession. In my humble opinion, no one seems to like lawyers unless they are “their” lawyer.

    In our system, the little people like me have rights too. I am not skilled to do “justice” in this system without help. Many others face the same challenge, Like Ruby and the poll workers attacked by unscrupulous lawyers in a system I am at disadvantage, due to lack of training.

    Devious people exist. Some are lawyers.

    I am extremely grateful for the lawyers that fight these dangerous, legally trained people thru the same system of Justice we have.

    Fanni Willis, her team of dedicated prosecutors, the judges, Jack Smith, his team and many, many other lawyers are “my” lawyers too. My voice in the system to fight back. Same as those volunteers in this case from Georgia, who only tried to ensure a free and fair election in a representative democracy.

    Today, good lawyers that support and defend people like me, I salute. Just my 2 cents, In Gratitude for myself, my child and in the honor of those who shed blood to fight against tyranny and corruption.

    To all on EW..thanks for helping me hold out hope for the system getting things mostly right in an imperfect world.

    • Lawn Beastman says:

      I know there are bad lawyers out there because my ex hired several. I don’t think they all got compensated but she did tell me it was one’s idea that she fabricate an assault case against me the week OJ Simpson was on the cover of Time and Newsweek. But I LOVE lawyers because I’ve had nothing but good ones and been completely honest with both. I was awarded full custody of our son and won again when she re-sued a few years later. The child just got an MA from MIT so her keeping him in a women’s shelter for two nights for no reason had no lasting damage.
      Thanks EW for all you do, I’m on here every day loving and learning,
      All best!

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    • timbozone says:

      “No one is perfect…not even lawyers.” Having a good lawyer can be key at times for sure.

      As a reminder, “Fani” is the correct spelling of the Fulton County DA’s first name. Also, it seems to be pronounced “fahni”…if the reporting last night on the indictments is any indication.

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t know how many silly comments you are going to post here, but the next “treason” one will be your last.

        • Rayne says:

          Look, I get it — you’re Canadian and aren’t as familiar with U.S. criminal code related to sedition and treason. But you’ve been here since 2008 and you should know by now it’s goddamned well not treason. Neither is it sedition though more likely seditious conspiracy.

          Don’t be surprised in the near future when you can’t spout this kind of silly and uninformed stuff without winding up in moderation.

    • Flatulus says:

      T2G = Trump 2 Gitmo

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      • bmaz says:

        And, seriously, get very lost with that “Trump To Gitmo” bullshit. That is never happening, and trying to discuss it here makes you look like a blithering idiot. Not kidding. I was away yesterday, but am back now. Do not embarrass yourself, nor us, with that dumb garbage.

        • USMA1986 says:

          Dammit, bmaz. Just my luck. In Rayne’s post yesterday, I asked you a couple of earnest questions that involved the R word. I treaded so lightly that some fucking pelican accused me of being obsequious. Either way, it was all for nothing. You were away. :(

        • Margo Schulter says:

          bmaz, your comment makes me take a more sober view of yesterday and today.

          While I admire Fani Wilkis in many ways, I see her career as a kind of intellectual and moral tragedy because she sought the death penalty after considering that unthinkable. I can admire her otherwise, but I could not vote for her if I lived in the jurisdiction to do so. And I find myself crafting statements in my imagination for her to explain a decision not to seek the death penalty: “We need to unite our community agsinst these eight murders, these eight horrible acts of racist violence. A death penalty trial would mean arguing about this criminal’s redeeming and mitigating human circumstances. I propose to seek eight consecutive terms of life without parole and let our prison authorities investigate the defendant’s character.”

          I see her prosecution of Trump as vindicating the dignity of Ruby Freeman against harassment that properly comes under the Georgia police power.

          A curious takeaway of all this is that I’m feeling “podunklier and podunklier.” If Fulton County in Georgia is Podunk, then so is Sacramento County in California. And my evaporative cooler maybe is a kind of emblem of podunkliness to me, especially on a day when the high outside was near 105F, and my evap is helping me minimize the use of conventional air conditioning. Best to you, bmaz, and I want to lend my encouragement.

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        • bmaz says:

          We have talked about this before, but the evaps work surprisingly well if there is not much humidity. With significant humidity, you need A/C.

          As to “podunk”, it is relative. Fulton County is about 1/5 the size of my county. And I very much do not want my local DA (termed a “county attorney” here) usurping federal law like Willis has done.

          And I want none of them ever to be doing what Willis is. There are 159 counties in Georgia, but only Willis has arrogated it upon herself to pull this.

        • Susan D Einbinder says:

          Hope all’s well and better today for you…am eagerly awaiting your perspective on all of this!

        • USMA1986 says:

          No worries – I’m mostly joking. Besides, you and the team have more important things to do – feels like there has been a real uptick in the number of dumbass comments the last few days.

          At any rate, I’m sorry about the intractable stuff. Hope it is behind you.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The indictment helps demonstrate the scope and scale of the months long, nationwide effort to subvert a federal election, not just the aspects of that campaign that took place in Georgia. You know it’s cutting close to the bone when the egregious law ‘n order man, Newt Gingrich, calls for Congress to defund Jack Smith. No doubt, he is more quietly trying to do the same in his home state of Georgia. Because Republicans, like Trump himself, can’t seem to win without cheating.

    • BobBobCon says:

      The scope is key, because Trump’s open supporters and his concern trolls in the press are going to try to boil the plot down to a single incident hinging on intent.

      They’ll try to claim it all comes down to a single statement which they can attack as a misunderstanding and make everything go away.

      The motivation of Trump’s explicit backers is obvious, but there will be a lot of hacks who have their own motivations for refusing to see how big his criminal enterprise was.

      • Rwood0808 says:

        Yes and No.

        The scope is important, but it pales when compared to TV cameras.

        While Federal courts rarely if ever allow them I’m certain that the Geogia case will be fully televised.

        That removes an important weapon in the trump propaganda machine. It denies them the information vacuum of coverage, one that they love to fill with propaganda and distraction issues in an effort to keep the base in line and the grift money flowing. A televised trial will lay all his sins out in public, and since the testimony against him will be mostly coming from Republicans it shoots down their “Biden-DOJ-Witch hunt” claims as well.

        Trumpers may not be big readers, but they’ll watch the hell out of some TV if their dear leader is on.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Good point about a televised trial, but that cuts both ways. I think the danger with this case is that if all 19 defendants are tried together, there will be 19 teams of defense attorneys objecting to every statement or motion & doing their best to obfuscate (sorry, raise a reasonable doubt about) all testimony. That can play to either side depending on who edits the film.

        • Rwood0808 says:

          Hard to edit a live broadcast, but I’m sure the conspiracy nuts will claim it’s happening anyway.

          Let them see their dear leader sweat.

        • ExRacerX says:

          If there’s one camera, you are correct. If there are multiple cameras—like on a live news or awards show—there’s a fair amount of switching between cameras for the broadcast. The raw footage from a 3-camera live show would be 3 times longer than the final show and include everything that was shot, whether it was used or not. That said, I don’t know how many cameras are used in live courtroom broadcasts.

          I totally agree with, “Let them see their dear leader sweat,” though.

        • !pverby! says:

          I suspect that with “flippers” there will likely be many fewer defendants than “19” by the time of trial, hopefully making it more manageable.

        • timbozone says:

          Today is only Tuesday.

          IANAL, but, having finished reading the indictment and charges in their current entirety, I expect there will be motions for injunctions for televising and for separation and for all number of other legal issues coming from a host of defendant counsel(s) soon enough. Heck, Mark Meadows (represented by Joseph M. Englert
          MCGUIREWOODS LLP) already filed for removal from the case in Federal Court…


        • Hollygolightly says:

          I agree that being televised is so important. But, I know many MAGA people that simply refused to watch J6, and by the time the trial comes around, Donald and his clan may well have indoctrinated them not to watch, and they will comply. And Fox will probably only provide coverage that is slanted, they don’t want to lose more viewership, after calling AZ, and the whole Dominion/Carlson debacle. Getting actual truth in from of MAGAs is quite a challenge. They cover their eyes and ears, and they resist anything that creates cognitive dissonance. Will we be howling into the wind again? I don’t know what will separate them from him. It truly is cult like behavior, and all the guilty GOP members will fight the truth too, because it implicates them, and they want to be re-elected! It really is a problem and I worry about this.

        • Doug R100 says:

          The Jan 6 committee hearings did get great ratings and it did move the needle some on trump.
          We’ll see.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, the vaunted “Committee” ratings were crap. Started off okay, at best, and went downhill from there. They did not move the “needle” one iota as to people and viewers not already pre-disposed against Trump. This is revisionist garbage.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes, it’s much more than a single January 2, 2021, phone call by Donald Trump. The issue is not purported beliefs – Trump will claim to believe anything that advances his interest of the moment. It’s criminal acts.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m going to caution you on this comment as it could be misconstrued as a negative remark about Fulton County and Georgia government.

  11. bgThenNow says:

    Mark Meadows is a bad man. I hope whatever cooperation he has provided Smith still allows him to be charged with some of the terrible things he has done. Glad to see his name in this indictment.

  12. sohelpmedog says:

    Kudos to Ms. Willis and her colleagues!
    Some will quibble about her timing, the effects this case may have on the federal cases, her motives, etc., but the fact remains the accused have committed heinous crimes – nothing less than trying to destroy our democracy (such as it is, but at least still is) and they need to be called to account.
    This indictment also helps tell the story of what was done and the hope is that the more people hear the story from more sources, the more people may do what they can and that is to vote and vote the right way,: for those that care about our democracy.
    I think as the prosecutions of the January 6 rabble and no further mass violence (so far) has shown, prosecutions – and convictions- do deter. And we sure need more deterrence.
    Also, assuming Trump gets convicted in Georgia, not only is a federal pardon unavailable, a state pardon in Georgia is not available before the convict has served his sentence or at least five years of it. The more pressure put on Trump and his band, the better.
    There is no ethical way these alleged crimes in Georgia could have been ignored. Until there is a resolution as to the wrongdoers, multiple crimes in multiple places call for multiple prosecutions in multiple places.

  13. GSSH-FullyReduced says:

    One name seems to be missing from this expansive indictment that I assume means he covered his tracks again to avoid justice: RatF…Stone?

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        It doesn’t seem as if Stone went to Georgia. But if you read the indictment, it certainly includes operations in other states that would seem to brush his fingertips.

        Surprisingly, no Florida.

        • ThomasPaine says:

          On Ari Melber’s “The Beat” tonite, he showed a video of Roger Stone dictating the Coup plot to a Danish journalist, including having the swing state legislatures send alternate slates of Trump Electors to the Congress for certification in Jan. 2021 on Nov. 5th, 2020. This whole thing started very early – possibly even before the Election on Nov. 3rd.

          Stone is not out of the fire just yet. Both Smith and Willis could easily pull him in using a new or superceding or indictment.

        • bmaz says:

          All of this has been known forever. For the love of gawd, please make “new or superseding indictments” stop. It is truly ridiculous at this point. Relentless bullshit on the internet should NEVER be the basis for real law. Stop.

    • chum'sfriend says:

      Stone will get his comeuppance when the indictments come down for the Willard Hotel meeting, where they planned the Jan 6 operation. Flynn too.

      • fatvegan000 says:

        The Danish journalist who was filming Stone claims Stone wasn’t involved in the Willard Hotel meetings.

  14. ThomasJ7777 says:

    Any chance of pre-trial detention for Trump?

    What are the precedents for racketeering gangsters? Are they typically allowed to remain free to commit more crimes?

    Will we see any of the threats against prosecutors, judges, and witnesses when Trump is arraigned? Seems to me that all of that could be used to ask the judge to keep him locked up until trial.

    Then we will see how much he likes the idea of delay delay delay.

    • Tech Support says:

      So apparently per an Andrew Weissman interview last night, the state RICO charge creates a different burden for the defendant on evaluating pre-trial release conditions. The risk of Trump using his release to “intimidate witnesses” is of particular note here:

      Personally I don’t think the judge will order any of the defendants to be held without bail, but whereas the federal prosecutions allowed Trump to be released without posting a bond, I am inclined to believe that the GA judge will, based on Trumps previous history, demand he post a bond in order to be released.

    • timbozone says:

      Are there any direct allegations of violent criminal activity in the Georgia indictment? I ask because people seem to be confusing racketeering charges in the indictment (a single count) with aggravated violent criminal racketeering willy-nilly the past few days. There are no allegations of aggravated violent racketeering in the current indictment as far as I can determine—IANAL. Many of the folks being arraigned in this case will not have any significant criminal priors; they’ll likely be released on their OR unless they’re significant flight risks. Doubt any of them would be considered such.

      Basically, it’s best to think clearly about this stuff than get all hyped up on hype.

      • timbozone says:

        Caveat. Felony perjury charges are generally considered to be very serious in most jurisdictions. Someone charged with that might be facing some more severe bail/restricted release requirements pending trial. False statement charges might also fall into that category of seriousness, depending on the nature of the false statement(s).

        Here is an overview of how the Federal government treats perjury and false statement:

        This provides some nomenclature that may or may not apply to the Georgia case. If, in the case of Meadows, Trump, and/or Clark, their portions of the charges end up being handled in Federal court, the legal information in the document may be directly applicable. (If anyone has a link to similar document/summary that purports to show how false statement and perjury is handled in the Georgia court system, particularly if it highlights the difference between that and the Federal definitions, that too might be of interest.)

      • bmaz says:

        Advisory, the Georgia RICO count is NOT just a “single count”, it the umbrella for everything in that sprawling, and somewhat ludicrous indictment. And, no, it is unlikely anybody will be detained, and it would be absurd if they were.

        • timbozone says:


          Sustaining any such charge in court will eventually require some substantial proof of predicate criminal acts (multiple) if it is to get to convictions under Georgia’s RICO statute.

  15. Upisdown says:

    “May God bless our new president and new vice president and may God bless the United States of America.”

    Vice President Al Gore, January 6, 2001, after certifying the results of the Electoral College vote count in Congress.

  16. ChicagoDD says:

    I’m so glad the unforgiveable and seminal racist underpinnings and commonality are coming into focus here – Hasen’s piece is simply great, I must share that with others.. It would be fitting if that becomes the ongoing and critical lens for the populace to holistically view not just these indictments but so much of DJT’s life/career through, (though highly doubtful the MSM will orient their coverage in this way). It’s a throughline: his early redlining, his Central Park 5 ad, the focal point at the beginnng of his damnable Pres run (Barack’s birth cert), “othering” the Black guy, and now this, the attempted “coup” de grâce.

  17. mnharris says:

    As I understand it, an “overt act” in a conspiracy can be legal in itself, if it is done in furtherance of an illegal conspiracy. One thing that is interesting to me is that some of these charges are things that by themselves might just seem fanciful or “aspirational”, but are illegal in light of other acts.

    It is, after all, legal to believe anything we want. And in most cases, to say that we believe in it. If I go to my state capitol and ask legislators to declare me “Champion of Castle Grayskull”, that is not a crime because it obviously isn’t a realistic request. I think that Trump has a right to make many of his claims, from a First Amendment standpoint. If someone wants to line up a symbolic electoral college because they ~feel~ they should have won, I think that is their right. But the thing is, the indictment mixes in very clear overt, specific requests, like the call to the Secretary of State. I can petition a Secretary of State to name me Lollipop Prince Supreme, but I can’t petition them to find me 12,000 votes.
    And to me, the most interesting thing about this is that Donald Trump, a reality TV host and member of the WWE Hall of Fame, has spent his political career playing around with Kayfabe. Some of his election denial seems to be part of maintaining a public persona—every American’s right! But some of it is obviously making requests for corrupt acts, which is not.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s continuing confusion between speech and acts. You can say a great deal. But when you generate false documents, put the in the mail, submit them to officials as valid, or try to persuade others to violate the law, you engage in criminal acts.

      • Peterr says:

        Your phrase “try to persuade others” seems very on point.

        “I would like you to do me a favor, though . . .

        “I just need 11780 votes . . .

        “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

        “You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. You know, that’s a criminal offence. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan [Germany], your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

        Shorter Trump: “Nice office you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

        • Matt___B says:

          Ever since the Raffensberger tape surfaced to public view on 1/4/21, I’ve always noted Trump’s interjections.

          You noted the “you know, um” in the recalculation line.

          But then there’s: “I just need, uhhh [+ noticeable pause], 11,780 votes”. Obviously he didn’t know the number by heart, so he had to refer to a piece of paper with the number written down before vocalizing it. And then he ends that sentence with “which is one more than we’ve got”, a phrase which floors me every time I hear it. So he considered he already “had” 11,779 (“stolen”) votes in his pocket and he just needed Raffensberger to add one more to put him over the top. C’mon Brad, just one more little vote – that’s so reasonable!

          Sorry – bit of a rant that your post reminded me of – having been unwillingly exposed to the ramblings of this demented mind for 7+ years (and counting)…

        • vigetnovus says:

          Huh. I never interpreted it that way. I was thinking he was just adding 1 to the vote differential so that he’d have 1 more vote than his opponent, and could be declared the winner. I always thought he meant to say “one more than I need”, but maybe you’re right.

      • Raven Eye says:

        “…generate false documents, put the in the mail, submit them to officials as valid…”

        Doesn’t that get into wire fraud/mail fraud — a whole ‘nother set of criminal activities?

        • Rayne says:

          I suspect we’ll see wire and mail fraud charges in the future from Special Counsel’s office. This could be a point of leverage over those indicted by the states who may be able to flip on the perps who organized and led the conspiracy at national/interstate level.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, the penalties for mail and wire fraud are particularly onerous, which makes them useful in securing cooperation: normally, a heavy fine and up to 20 years in prison – or both – for each count.

      • mnharris says:

        In this case, I am not in doubt that many of Trump’s acts were illegal in intent, but I am more thinking about the precedents it sets. I don’t think the difference between speech and an act is always a clear cut one. I think some of Trump’s conduct has been protected speech, and some of it is clearly acts.

        I am kind of imagining a situation like this…
        A defendant is in front of a judge for sentencing.
        First, he tells the judge that he shouldn’t go to jail because he is a well-loved member of the community and he will bring happiness to many. This is obviously such a vague statement that it falls within the defendants rights to free speech.
        Then he tells the doctor that he is an eye surgeon and he needs to be kept free so he can perform surgery. This is not true. In this case, he has made a materially false claim to a judge—and that is probably illegal.
        Next he offers the judge a five dollar bill if he can go free. This is clearly an act, and is clearly illegal.

        So in Trump’s case, he has made many statements that just reflect his belief (although who knows what he really believes), some statements that are materially false, and also has attempted to intimidate people.

        I think it is important to disentangle these things, because I don’t want there to be a situation where someone is in an IRS audit and says something like “well, I hope you go easy on me!” and gets accused of subornation. I think there are important first amendment issues in a case like this, even if I can see that Trump has also done things that are clearly not first amendment protected.

        • mnharris says:

          Although I think my examples might have been a little random, I think my point is clear. I can express wishes, hopes, desires or beliefs and it isn’t a crime, I can’t make statements that are meant to be factual.
          I can tell a judge that I was speeding because Jesus told me I could, and that isn’t legally a false statement.
          But if I tell a judge I was speeding because I am a doctor and on my way to help a patient, that is legally a false statement.

      • timbozone says:

        Interestingly, there might be some significant differences between Georgia and Federal laws and jurisprudence in the area of false documents charges. If one had a good lawyer, one might expect that removing a Georgia indictment to a Federal court might have to be looked at more carefully before shooting for the Federal gambit, admissibility being just one such consideration among many?

  18. Mister_Sterling says:

    I’m getting ahead of the coverage, but I see a situation in which some defendants refuse to turn themselves in for processing. In a case this complex and big, it’s a possibility. Even Trump would need a separate legal team for this case (I would think), or at least an expansion of his volunteer legal team just to keep track of the delays they are going to request. Could a juggler adding objects to their act be a good analogy? I have a headache.

    • posaune says:

      Question: if one or more of the 19 defendants, call the AG’s office and wants a plea deal, (or wants to cooperate), can that defendant(s), get a separate trial quickly and be finished with the process (except for testifying as any requirement)?

      • FLwolverine says:

        A successful plea deal would mean that defendant would not go to trial – the whole point of making a deal being to negotiate the punishment and avoid a trial.

  19. Unabogie says:

    The Trump apologists are all trying to claim that Trump was entitled to break all kinds of laws if he really believed the election was stolen.

    This is their only defense at this point, right? They can’t claim they didn’t do the things. So they can only claim they did the things with some sort of good faith and should be excused if they got it wrong.

    Let’s call it the Emily Litella Defense.

    “Never mind…”

  20. paulka123 says:

    Curious about something, this is a state prosecution and I think it is a given that it will be a while before it goes to trial.

    But let’s assume Trump wins the 2024 election and this trial starts in 2025 say. Can a State try a sitting president? I am sure the State’s Righters will be fully supportive of that, but, well I would imagine that will make for some interesting legal arguments.

  21. soundgood2 says:

    I’m still thinking about Pence refusing to get into the car when he was hiding out from the mob on Jan 6. He knew not to get in. Was he told by someone that if he was not available, they could get Grassley to do the dirty work and then Pence could keep his hands clean without really antagonizing Trump? Is there any chance we will ever learn the truth?. Could this have been in the texts that were destroyed by the Secret Service?

    • Shadowalker says:

      Who knows? He might have been disappeared. Just like the texts, which was a violation of the Federal Records Act.

    • Froggacuda says:

      Praise seconded from a long-time lurker. I learn so much from Dr Wheeler and the comments gallery. Also checking with Rayne that username is ok with new rules.

      [Welcome to emptywheel. Your username meets the site’s requirement for uniqueness and 8-letter minimum; please use it and the same email address each time you comment. /~Rayne]

  22. Manuel Gonzalez says:

    Read the 90 pages last night. Came here first thing this morning. Scrolled through the 66 comments, links and great explanations with one question in mind. What is BMAZ going to say about RICO in this context?

    • Tech Support says:

      It’s worth noting here that, for better or for worse, the whole bomb has been dropped. It doesn’t appear DA Willis has any intention of pushing out a series of superseding indictments.

    • pasha says:

      BMAZ’s reaction was my first thought as well — though his opposition was to the Federal RICO statute being used, and Georgia’s statute apparently differs in some important clauses. I await the Arizona Seer’s reaction!

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    A White Thwart Code

    A white thwart code
    In sync aspiration (doo-wa)
    Trump’s all tapped out in his dance
    (bum-bum, bum-bum, bum, bum)
    A white thwart code
    with his agitation (doo-wa)
    Trump still purports with his rants
    (bum-bum, bum-bum, bum, bum)

    And we told him long ago (doo-doo)
    We don’t like his kayfabe show (doo-doo)
    We haven’t changed our minds
    it seems (doo-wa)
    Someone else still holds our dreams

    A white (a white)
    thwart code (thwart code)
    In sync aspiration (doo-wa)
    And in a blue, blue mood
    (bum-bum, bum-bum, bum, bum)
    (A white thwart code
    In sync aspiration) (doo-wa)

    Marty Robbins – “A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation”

    • P’villain says:

      Summertime, and indictments come easy
      Big fish jumpin’ from the pan to the fire
      The Donald’s rich, but his goose is now cookin’
      So rush to the courthouse, there’s cases to be tried

      Some co-defendents, they’re gonna rise up singin’
      Spill their beans ‘bout the former guy
      But ‘til they do it, we can only sit waiting
      So rush to the courthouse, there’s cases to be tried

  24. TimothyB says:

    Very helpful to lay it out so clearly, MW.

    There are some overlaps between (1) charges where the risk of conviction doesn’t turn on the overal RICO thing, like the Coffee County “theft of voter data” in Count 37 or the “computer trespass” or “computer invasion of privacy” in Counts 35 and 36 and (2) defendants who have potentially valuable testimony and dangerous exposure, like Misty Hampton who had county-level responsibility for making sure those offenses didn’t occur (and who made a dumb video about Dominion voting machines.) Hampton also could testify to the alleged top down elements of the Coffee County problems.

    If I had real knowledge of Georgia law, as I am sure Ms. Willis does, this might guide my efforts to seek flippers.

  25. Purple Martin says:

    I’m seeing a lot of questioning today about Fani Willis implying last night that there will be one, and only one trial, with all 19 defendants and 19 teams of defense attorneys in the courtroom at all times. That doesn’t seem likely.

    First, some number of the 19 will enter into plea agreements. Could be only a couple, could be several, but it won’t be zero. Second, there’s no reason Willis can’t clarify her statement and note the possibility of trying some groups of related counts in different trials. That’s what happened in what’s still the most relevant precedent—Watergate.

    What first started me thinking about this was Marcy’s division of crimes and defendants into THE RICO INDICTMENT plus “the following [six] groups”…

    Count 2 though Count 7: False claims and illegal requests made, many by Rudy Giuliani, before the fake electors scheme…
    Count 23 through Count 26 charge Rudy, Ray Smith, and Robert Cheeley with false claims and solicitations on December 30…
    Count 28 charges both Trump and Mark Meadows for the January 2 call to Brad Raffensperger.
    Count 29 charges Trump for the lies he told during the call.
    Counts 38 and 39 charge Trump with lies and solicitations of Brad Raffensperger on September 17, 2021.

    Count 8 through Count 19: These are a series of six paired charges tied to various kinds of fraud involved with the fake electors.

    Counts 20 and 21 and : These charge two efforts to defraud Ruby Freeman by offering her help when in fact they were an attempt to entrap her.
    Count 30 and Count 31 charge aspects of a plot to get Kanye’s publicist to travel from Illinois to Georgia to entrap Ruby Freeman into making false claims.

    Count 22 charges Jeffrey Clark for his attempts to get DOJ to claim the Georgia election was fraudulent.
    Count 27 charges Trump and Eastman with lying about Georgia’s results in a lawsuit.

    Count 32 through Count 37 charge Sidney Powell, Latham, and two others for tampering with the Coffee County vote tabulators.

    Count 40 charges David Shafer with false statements told during the investigation.
    Count 41 charges Robert Cheeley with perjury for false claims made during the investigation.

    Seems the Coffee County and Ruby Freeman counts, and possibly the Fake Electors, would be most easily separated from the rest. That leaves the RICO indictment and three Lies [and Solicitation] groups consolidated in a main event.

    I’m assuming the same evidence can be introduced into these four potential trials, with pleading out of RICO charges (the most severe) as a carrot for lower-level defendants to give testimony against the upper echelon?

    Must note this a complete hypothetical and not a prediction or recommendation. I have no experience in criming, defending criming, or prosecuting criming, so certainly not a qualified authority in the area. Those with better qualifications…have I described a realistic, or even possible scenario?

    And thanks again to Marcy, for breaking this all into much more digestible chunks. Read all 98 pages last night but now, after considering Marcy’s framework, I have a much better understanding of the full indictment.

    • misnomer bjet says:

      I’m hearing Andrew Weissmann suggest a strategy of maximizing pressure on ‘other’ defendants in the Georgia indictment (namely, Rudy) by not having Trump at the center of Fani Willis’s prosecution of this indictment as a whole.

      This was —quite surreally, in the course of practically concurrent parallel analysis (between Scarborough, Walt Isaacson & Jen Palmieri) —perhaps more accurately described as a political strategy session, about how to de-center Trump in the GOP primary & find another Republican elite ‘populist’ “better able to use the resentments” of ‘the base’ (Scarborough) to “make ‘them’ feel” ‘seen.’

      All of this nonchalant ‘bipartisan’ blurring of the line between legal & political news analysis & strategy that would happen to favor nomination of a Republican Menudo candidate, is difficult .. to watch nonchalantly.

      But I’m ‘seeing’ all this about how the defense (&/or political opposition) always “disaggregates,” as Weissman put it, in response to Fleming’s explanation of why Willis likes RICO; as means of “aggregating” in order to show the full scope of the story (on Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word last night), which seems to be ballooning out of (or indistinguishable from) Meadows seeking to remove his prosecution to federal venue; the Federalist Society “track,” as Weissmann put it, at some point in the last 24 hours.

      You suggest chopping the non-RICO counts in half in order to highlight the 3 “lies & solicitation” groups (by Marcy’s grouping) alongside the RICO count, —siphoning off the 3 other groups to other trials.

      What I think that would do is step on (to use a drug trafficking phrase) the import & weight of the use of the threat of physical force to ‘solicit’ violation of oath, which occurred I think, in both Meadows count 28 and in what was perhaps more overtly or obviously done to Ruby Freeman (counts 20, 21 and 30 & 31) for affect on those upon whom the threat of physical force was less obvious.

      If Meadows participated in that with his timing & words in the call which count 28 refers to (and I think he did, in that Trump threatened to have Raffensburger arrested, in one of those calls, at least), you’d be ‘disaggregating’ that through line of the use of the threat of (and actual) physical force.

  26. Georgia Girl says:

    Fani Willis is an experienced prosecutor, and an expert in using the Georgia Rico statute in prosecuting conspiracy at the state level. She has conviction rate of 90 percent. She’s prosecuted cases with more defendants than Trump et al with considerable success.

    As a longtime Georgia resident and Georgia voter, all I can say is that the commenters here could benefit from some knowledge of the legal and illegal means used in the past to aid voter suppression in Georgia.

    Fani Willis is doing her job because most of the crimes charged in her indictment were committed in Fulton County. And while I wish Jack Smith all success, D.C. is a long way from Atlanta, and the Georgia participants in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Georgia need to be seen being tried and hopefully punished and sentenced right here where the voters they attempted to harm can see it happen.

    This case is personal to me and to every Democratic voter in Georgia, and I don’t really care that Fani Willis’s personality and prosecutorial style and timing irritate people here at Emptywheel, and that her prosecution appears to compete with Jack Smith’s. Willis is doing a service to her county and her state by prosecuting crimes against Georgia residents in Georgia. And she has a good chance of winning convictions.

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