Defiant Trump cashes in on historic mugshot

“If you challenge an election, you should be able to challenge an election,” he told reporters on the airport tarmac.

Mr Trump’s surrender to law enforcement authorities, the fourth time this year, has by now become a familiar election-season routine in a way that belies the unprecedented spectacle of a former president, and current candidate, being booked on felony criminal charges.

But his visit to Atlanta was notably different from the three past surrenders, requiring him to visit a problem-plagued jail – rather than a courthouse – and not in a liberal bastion such as New York or Washington but rather in the heart of a battleground state crucial to next year’s presidential election.

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And unlike in other cities that did not require him to pose for a mugshot, a booking photo of him was taken. It depicts Mr Trump, wearing a navy suit and red tie, angrily scowling at the camera, his brows furrowed as he stares into the lens.

Before Mr Trump’s plane had landed back in New Jersey, his campaign was already using the image to solicit contributions on a fundraising site. And for the first time since January 2021, he made a post on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, issuing a fundraising plea on the platform that prevented him from using his account after he helped spark the violent insurrection at the US Capitol.

“This mugshot will forever go down in history as a symbol of America’s defiance of tyranny,” said a Trump campaign fundraising email.

His jail visit created a remarkable split-screen visual during a 2024 Republican primary contest, swiping the spotlight at least temporarily from his opponents and coming one day after a debate in Milwaukee where eight of his leading rivals sought to exploit Mr Trump’s absence by trying to stand out from the pack.

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In four recent polls, a majority of respondents said the criminal charges against Mr Trump were warranted. But at the same time, Mr Trump’s standing among Republican voters is strong, and he is holding on to a considerable lead against his Republican primary rivals.

Mr Trump is also neck and neck against Mr Biden in recent polls. A Quinnipiac University poll this month showed him trailing Mr Biden by 1 percentage point — 47 per cent to 46 per cent — in a hypothetical rematch.

After arriving in Atlanta, Mr Trump headed to the jail. He completed the booking process in a brisk 20 minutes, providing officials as is customary with his physical measurements: 6 foot 3 inches (190.5 cm). 215 pounds (98 kilograms). Strawberry or blond hair. He was assigned an identification number, P01135809.

The Fulton County prosecution is the fourth criminal case against Mr Trump since March, when he became the first former president in US history to be indicted.

Since then, he’s faced federal charges in Florida and Washington, and this month he was indicted in Atlanta with 18 others – including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani – under a racketeering statute normally associated with gang members and organised crime.

Mugshots of Donald Trump and 11 of the 18 people indicted with him, including Ray Smith, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Cathy Latham, Kenneth Chesebro, David Shafer, Scott Hall, John Eastman, Harrison Floyd and Mark Meadows. Reuters

Mr Giuliani surrendered on Thursday (AEST) and posed for a mugshot. Mr Meadows, who had sought to avoid having to turn himself in while he sought to move the case to federal court, turned himself in on Friday.

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District Attorney Fani Willis had given all of the defendants until Friday to turn themselves in at the main Fulton County jail. In a last-minute shake-up of his legal team before he surrendered, Mr Trump hired Steven Sadow, a veteran criminal defence lawyer in Atlanta whose clients have included prominent rappers.

Mr Sadow said in a statement that “the president should never have been indicted. He is innocent of all the charges brought against him.”

Ms Willis began her investigation after a recording of Mr Trump in 2020 was released in which he told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, that he wanted to “find” 11,780 votes, one more than he needed to win the state. Mr Trump later described the call to Mr Raffensperger as “absolutely perfect”.

Mr Trump faces 13 felony counts in the Georgia case, including racketeering, for pressuring state officials to reverse his election loss there and setting up an illegitimate slate of electors to undermine the formal congressional certification of Mr Biden’s 2020 victory.

Reuters and AP