2 from Chicago area among those charged in Georgia Trump indictment

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The Georgia indictment against the former president and 18 co-defendants includes 41 counts and a racketeering charge. Among those named in the indictment are two people from the Chicago area: Orland Park minister Stephen Cliffgard Lee and Chicago lobbyist Trevian Kutti.

Lee is a 70-year-old pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church and has been politically active in campaigns for Trump-backed candidates. Kutti is a former Old Town resident who was once a publicist for disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly and controversial rapper Kanye West.

Both are facing three counts including solicitation of false statements, witness tampering and violations of Georgia’s racketeering laws.

The indictment accuses Lee and Kutti of attempting to convince Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman to falsely confess to election fraud. Some of Kutti’s alleged pressuring was captured on camera at the Cobb County Sheriff’s office.

Freeman testified before the Congressional January 6 Committee that she has suffered harassment ever since her name became public.

Illinois Institute of Technology Kent College of Law professor Harold Krent called this fourth indictment of the former President “mind blowing.”

“President Trump faces four trials, possibly within five months. How can he focus on campaigning during that time?” Krent said. “Maybe it doesn’t matter, but we will still have to see.”

In addition to Lee and Kutti, who have maintained their innocence, the indictment also names former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. Both face racketeering charges.

Ironically, Giuliani made his name as a U.S. Attorney prosecuting mobsters under the RICO Act.

Krent said the pressure of a federal indictment and the possibility of prison time could convince some of the other co-defendants to turn state’s evidence on Trump.

The case is being watched closely around the nation and here in Illinois. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, called the charges against Trump  “some of the most serious in the history of the nation.”

Trump's campaign called the indictment "un-American and wrong.” The former president contends his actions were not illegal and the investigation is politically motivated. Trump pleaded not guilty to his three other indictment cases, in New York criminal court, Florida federal court, and Washington D.C. federal court.

Krent said the indictments would not keep Trump for running for or holding the office of President.

“There is no bar still to him running for office, even if he is convicted of these massive amount of felonies, he is entitled to run for office,” Krent said.

That would create a situation the country hasn’t seen since 1920 when Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran for President from inside a Georgia Prison where he was imprisoned under the Sedition Act of 1917.

If Trump were to win the Presidential election, he could conceivably order his attorney general to cease prosecution of the federal cases against him. The Georgia and New York cases would likely continue because they are being brought under state Law, Krent said.

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