Donald Trump left his New Jersey estate on Thursday to get his mug shot taken at an Atlanta jail as part of a wide-ranging criminal case stemming from the former U.S. president's attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia.
Trump's motorcade arrived at Newark International Airport as he journeyed to the Fulton County Jail, where several dozen supporters awaited his arrival. He said on social media that he would surrender around 7:30 p.m. Eastern time (2330 GMT).
"We want to put it on a T-shirt. It will go worldwide. It will be a more popular image than the Mona Lisa"Laura Loomer, former Republican congressional candidate
Meanwhile, Judge Scott McAfee set a trial date of Oct. 23 for one of the defendants, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the charges against Trump and the others, had proposed that date. That trial date will not necessarily apply to Trump or the other 17 defendants.
Trump, 77, already has entered uncharted territory as the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges, though the four cases filed against him have not slowed his momentum as the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination to run against Democratic President Joe Biden in next year's election.
Now the businessman-turned-politician who for years hosted a reality TV show is due to join the ranks of gangster Al Capone, crooner Frank Sinatra and other high-profile Americans who have posed for jailhouse photographs.
The image is certain to be circulated widely by Trump's foes and supporters alike.
"We want to put it on a T-shirt. It will go worldwide. It will be a more popular image than the Mona Lisa," said Laura Loomer, 30, a Republican former congressional candidate who mingled with other Trump supporters outside the jail on Thursday morning.
One of the most recognizable people in the world, Trump has not had to submit to a photo in the other three cases. But fake mug shots have circulated online since shortly after he was first indicted in Manhattan in March on charges involving hush money paid to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.
Some of his co-defendants already have been booked. Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, was stone-faced in his mug shot while lawyer Jenna Ellis smiled.
All 19 defendants face a Friday deadline to surrender. Court records showed that Mark Meadows, who served as Trump's White House chief of staff, was booked on Thursday.
"I have to start getting ready to head down to Atlanta, Georgia, where Murder and other Violent Crimes have reached levels never seen before, to get ARRESTED by a Radical Left, Lowlife District Attorney, Fani Willis," Trump wrote on social media.
Trump faces 13 felony counts in the Georgia case, including racketeering, which is typically used to target organized crime, for pressuring state officials to reverse his election loss and setting up an illegitimate slate of electors to undermine the formal congressional certification of Biden's victory.
TRIAL DATE WRANGLING
Willis originally proposed a trial date of March 4, but moved it up after Chesebro asked that his trial start by October. Trump's legal team has not yet proposed a date, but is expected to push for a much later start. On Thursday, his newly named lawyer Steven Sadow asked for Trump to be tried separately from Chesebro.
Trump is due to enter a plea on Sept. 5 and has pleaded not guilty in the three other cases. He has denied wrongdoing and has called all the cases politically motivated.
In addition to the New York state charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Trump faces two sets of federal charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith - one case in Washington involving election interference and one in Miami involving classified documents he retained after leaving office in 2021. He faces 91 criminal counts in total.
Trump has agreed to post a $200,000 bond and accepted bail conditions that would bar him from threatening witnesses or his 18 co-defendants in the Georgia case.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered that the airspace over the jail be closed beginning around 6:45 p.m. ET (2245 GMT), citing "VIP movement." The jail has a reputation for grim conditions that have inspired rap songs and prompted an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives said on Thursday they would investigate whether Willis improperly coordinated with federal prosecutors. They previously launched an investigation of Bragg, who accused them of a "campaign of intimidation."
About a dozen Trump supporters, some holding flags, gathered outside the jail awaiting his arrival.
"I'm here because I'm appalled at what's happening," said Bob Kunst, 81, a retiree who said he had driven from Miami Beach and stood outside the jailhouse with a homemade sign that read "Lock Biden Up."
Trump's planned jailhouse visit comes a day after his rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination met in Milwaukee for their initial debate. Trump skipped that event, instead sitting for a pre-taped interview with conservative commentator Tucker Carlson on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
"I've been indicted four times - all trivial nonsense," Trump said.
Mark Meadows, one of former President Donald Trump's 18 co-defendants in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case, surrendered to Fulton County authorities and was booked on Thursday, according to records posted on the county sheriff's website.