Defendant Donald Trump will surrender Thursday to answer criminal charges for which he was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury along with 18 conspirators.
Thursday was picked because he would upstage the first Republican debate — from which he will be absent — making it more likely that Trump will hijack the headlines. He previously announced that he would not participate in the forum alongside other GOP candidates because he has a commanding lead among Republican voters.
Instead, Trump intends to deny his rivals and Fox News, which is broadcasting the debate, any attention by diverting a substantial share of the audience to Tucker Carlson’s broadcast of his taped interview with the 2020 election loser.
Carlson, the former Fox News host that was fired in the wake of the Dominion lawsuit, recorded his interview with Trump several days ago but it will be released on Wednesday, August 24, 2023, the same night as the first Republican presidential debate. It will be streamed on Carlson’s new platform, which is formerly known as Twitter, without ads.
Trump had for months suggested that he would pass on the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, arguing that it did not make sense to give others a chance to attack him given his sizeable lead among Republicans in national polls.
Trump objected to a requirement set by the Republican National Committee, which demanded that debate participants sign a loyalty pledge, promising to support whoever wins the GOP nomination next year.
Trump’s indictment lists 13 counts of election subversion under Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.
Trump is facing charges of solicitation of election fraud and conspiracy to commit election fraud in connection with his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Trump said that he will surrender to authorities in Fulton County, Georgia, on Thursday, August 24, 2023. He is required to surrender by noon on Friday, August 25, 2023.
Trump is the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted on criminal charges.
It is not yet clear what will happen after Trump surrenders. His lawyers arranged for him to be released on $200,000 bail, but he could be detained in jail until his trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 4, 2024, because he may be deemed to have violated the conditions of release that had been negotiated by ridiculing Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis with insults dripping with sarcasm.
Trump was ordered not to intimidate witnesses and others connected to the case, including the prosecutor and other law enforcement officials so his remarks could put him in dangerous territory.
While it is unknown whether it is merely showmanship or because of some psychological disorder, Trump seems to find it irresistible to attack his foes.
Trump has also criticized Fox, which parted ways earlier this year with Carlson and is hosting the debate, over its recent coverage of him. Trump’s absence could mean Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a distant second in the polls, will become the focus of attacks from other candidates looking to position themselves as the primary alternative to the former president.
Trump was also indicted in three other jurisdictions for alleged federal and state crimes involving the January 6th riots, mishandling classified documents, and falsifying business records to facilitate a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.