By Janice Hisle
A judge has begun setting bonds and release conditions for former President Donald Trump and some of his 18 indicted co-defendants in the Georgia case alleging they unlawfully interfered in the 2020 election.
According to newly posted court records (pdf) in Fulton County, Georgia, on Aug. 21, Judge Scott McAfee set bond for President Trump at $200,000.
Four other co-defendants reached bond agreements on Tuesday, court filings show. Attorney John Eastman’s bond was set at $100,000. The bond amount was far lower, $10,000, for Scott Hall, a bail bondsman who is accused in the case. Attorney Kenneth Chesbro’s bond was set at $100,000, and attorney Ray Smith III’s bond is $50,000.
All five of the defendants are allowed to post 10 percent of the amount in a surety bond to guarantee future court appearances.
In addition to requiring the defendants to post the bond amounts, the judge is restricting whom the men can contact and what they can say. “The defendant shall not communicate in any way, directly or indirectly, about the facts of this case” with known co-defendants or with known witnesses, the documents for all five men state. However, they may use attorneys as conduits to contact co-defendants or witnesses, the orders state.
The order bars them from committing any acts to intimidate known co-defendants or known witnesses. They also must not “otherwise obstruct the administration of justice,” the orders state.
But the order for President Trump goes into much more detail on the restrictions. It explicitly prohibits him from making a “direct or indirect threat of any nature against any co-defendant,” any victim, “the community or to any property in the community,” or any witness including the unnamed, uncharged 30 co-conspirators referenced in the indictment. Specifically, the order states, “the above shall include, but are not limited to, posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media.”
In the indictment filed a week ago, the defendants are all accused of participating in a coordinated, allegedly unlawful effort to help President Trump, a Republican, remain in power after government officials declared that Democrat Joe Biden was the winner of the November 2020 presidential election in Georgia and in other contested states.
President Trump has never conceded to President Biden, and has maintained that he believes the election was “rigged” or “stolen.” However, the indictment alleges that many of the defendants, including President Trump, knew that they were making false claims of election fraud.
However, the indictment doesn’t reveal how authorities intend to prove that the defendants knowingly told falsehoods.
Ms. Willis has said the defendants could avoid arrest if they surrender on the charges before this Friday, Aug. 25, at noon. The Epoch Times has asked Nicholas Cotten, court spokesman, to verify whether the defendants appeared in person.
Judge McAffee also imposed several other apparently standard conditions, including forbidding the defendants from committing other local, state, or federal crimes. The men also must report to pretrial supervision, at least by telephone, once every 30 days, and must show up for all court appearances.
The bond amounts were based, in part, on the number and type of charges each defendant faces.
All 19 defendants, including Mr. Eastman and Mr. Hall, are accused of violating Georgia’s Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
However, the judge set much higher bond amounts for President Trump and Mr. Eastman than for Mr. Hall even on identical charges. For example, all three men are charged under Count 1 of the indictment, the RICO charge. The judge associated $80,000 of President Trump’s total bond with that charge; $20,000 of Mr. Eastman’s total bond; and $4,000 of Mr. Hall’s total bond.
In addition to the RICO charge, President Trump, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Hall are all each charged with six counts of criminal conspiracy. On top of that, Mr. Eastman faces two other charges: criminal solicitation and filing false documents. President Trump faces those same charges, plus two more counts of criminal solicitation and two counts of false statements. All told, the former president faces 11 counts in this case.
He also is accused of 80 charges in three separate cases. In a similar vein, President Trump is accused of federal charges in Washington alleging he conspired to overturn the election. In another federal case, he is accused of mishandling classified documents in Florida. His first indictment came in March, in connection with a New York hush-payment scandal.