By Alex P. Vidal
“Every time you walk down the street people are screaming, ‘You’re fired!’”—Donald Trump
IF I don’t write about the Donald Trump rigmarole when history is unfolding and the whole world is agog over it, I will be committing a big injustice for journalism especially if some readers expect me to chronicle the ongoing political saga riveting the United States nowadays and this important piece of information is missing in my articles.
Thus, there is a necessity for this subject matter to be in the driver’s seat now that the 77-year-old former president of the United States is expected to surrender at the notorious Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia on August 24, Thursday (Friday in the Philippines).
Unlike in Mr. Trump’s three previous indictments which I opted to skip for the more interesting issues in the Philippines, this one is unique since everyone has been anticipating whether he will be treated differently owing to his stature. It is really about the mugshot.
Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat has indicated publicly that the former president would be treated differently in Atlanta than he has during his past three arraignments—but just the same as any other criminal defendant being processed into the county criminal justice system. “It doesn’t matter your status,” Labat said at a press briefing. “We have a mugshot ready for you.
In his previous cases, authorities didn’t require mugshots—which are typically taken so authorities have a current photo on hand to post publicly if a suspect becomes a fugitive−-because the former president is so widely recognized. Mr. Trump was fingerprinted, however.
Even though Trump did not have a mug shot taken during processing in his first three criminal cases, his campaign for the 2024 presidential election created one for fundraising purposes.
The day will be historic since it will be the first time that a former US president will be subjected to mugshot in a process known as booking.
Mr. Trump and his 18 co-defendants accused of trying to steal the 2020 presidential election in Georgia are expected to be booked at the Fulton County Jail on Rice Street in downtown Atlanta in the current case.
The facility has a history of poor conditions and bad management, and it often takes several hours for defendants to be processed into the system, according to USA Today’s Josh Meyer.
The leading GOP presidential candidate in the November 2024 election likely won’t stay there long given his stature and the worldwide attention being paid to the case.
Meyer said defendants typically who get booked at the county jail are searched, weighed, undergo a brief medical screening, get fingerprinted and have their photo–or mug shot–taken.
Because it’s anything but typical for a former president to be booked, it’s not clear what the booking process will be like for Mr. Trump and some of his high-profile co-defendants, including his former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
“We’re in uncharted waters at this point,” Chris Timmons, a former prosecutor and now a law partner at Knowles Gallant Timmons in Atlanta, told CNN.
“We haven’t had a former United States president or anyone with Secret Service protection booked into the Fulton County jail.”
Mr. Trump confirmed Monday on his Truth Social platform that he’s going to Atlanta on August 23 to face law enforcement officials.
In the post, he accused Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Department of Justice officials of seeking to target his 2024 reelection campaign without evidence.
Those booked in Fulton County typically are reportedly required to appear before a judge within 72 hours. But, according to USA Today, attorneys for some of the defendants have said publicly that they won’t have initial court appearances because they’ve already been indicted and will mostly likely have negotiated their bond ahead of time.
After the former president surrenders to Fulton County authorities Thursday, he will be released from custody in Georgia under an already agreed-upon set of conditions, including a $200,000 bond, according to an NBC news.
Mr. Trump will be prohibited from doing anything a judge could interpret as an effort to intimidate co-defendants or witnesses or “otherwise obstruct the administration of justice” as part of the conditions.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)