Former president Donald Trump on Thursday has been released from custody after he surrendered and was briefly placed under arrest by officers with the Fulton County, Georgia sheriff’s department at the Fulton County jail in northwest Atlanta.
Mr Trump, who was indicted on 15 August following a sprawling election interference probe overseen by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, was booked into the Fulton County jail on 13 separate charges, including a single charge of allegedly violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.
The former president’s surrender comes after many of his highest-profile co-defendants cycled in and out of the same facility in recent days, including his former personal lawyer, ex-New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mark Meadows, his last White House chief of staff.
But unlike those former allies turned co-defendants, Mr Trump arrived in Atlanta with all the trappings of the post-presidency life he has constructed for himself since American voters tossed him out of the White House in favour of Joe Biden nearly three years ago.
He left his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club Thursday afternoon in a government-owned, heavily armoured sport utility vehicle chauffeured by a member of his Secret Service protective detail.
He was accompanied on the short trip to a private air terminal at Newark International Airport by a massive motorcade, including a phalanx of marked police cars and other vehicles typically not seen during movements of a former president, though a source familiar with Secret Service protective operations said the high-profile escort was made necessary by the publicity surrounding the ex-president’s journey.
Mr Trump then took off for Atlanta in his bespoke Boeing 757 airliner, which he and his supporters often refer to as “Trump Force One”.
A similar scene greeted the ex-president upon his arrival at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where another Secret Service-owned SUV took him from the tarmac at one of the world’s busiest airports to the jail facility run by Patrick Labat, the 28th person to serve as the sheriff of Fulton County, Georgia.
Mr Trump’s entrance to the jail may have been unlike any other criminal defendant in US history, but within minutes of his arrival at the infamous Rice Street facility, he left nearly all of that behind.
Unlike the three previous criminal cases for which the twice-impeached, now four-times-indicted former president has been placed under arrest just prior to court appearances, Mr Trump was afforded hardly any of the courtesies that have marked his other hands-on contacts with the US penal system.
Though he was accompanied by the Secret Service special agents who are required by law to safeguard his person, Mr Trump was booked into the jail, fingerprinted, and officially photographed by Fulton County Sheriff’s Department personnel — the first time a former US president has had a booking photo taken.
Online records published by the Sheriff’s office listed Mr Trump’s height and weight at six feet, three inches and 215 pounds, but it’s highly likely that those figures were provided by the former president and were not taken by weighing or measuring the former president.
When Mr Trump was arraigned following his first indictment in Manhattan in April, the ex-president self-reported his height and weight as six feet, two inches and 240 pounds.
Regardless of any inaccuracies in his self-reported height and weight, the photograph of Mr Trump is a change from his previous contact with the justice system.
After his previous arrests following indictments by New York City and federal prosecutors, officials have consented to using a publicly available headshot for Mr Trump or to not using any photograph in his file, citing his status as one of the most recognisable people on earth.
Still, Mr Trump’s status as a former president and his need for Secret Service protection will grant him at least some respite from what has been an hours-long process for many of his co-defendants, since security requirements will dictate that he be processed alone and that movements within the jail complex be stopped until he exits the premeses.
The ex-president’s attorneys had already negotiated his release days before his surrender, and a consent order agreed to by Mr Trump’s legal team and the Fulton County District Attorney’s office — and approved by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee — set Mr Trump’s bond at $80,000 for the single charge he faces for violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, plus an additional $10,000 for each of the 12 counts he faces for criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation, filing false documents and false statements charges.
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