Donald Trump must turn himself in by noon on Friday.
The deadline for his voluntary surrender in Fulton County, Georgia, the latest of four jurisdictions to pursue criminal prosecutions of America’s 45th president, is fast approaching as Mr Trump and his legal team calibrate their responses to the latest series of charges to come down on the ex-president’s shoulders. He’s charged with 13 counts, including a violation of the organised crime under the state’s RICO statute.
And all indications are as of now that Mr Trump will cooperate with authorities. Attorneys for the ex-president were reported to have been in contact with Fulton County in the middle of last week, just a matter of hours after the indictment was formally handed down. His surrender will be a logistical struggle for the ex-president and his team, given the necessity of Secret Service protection and the unique situation of an individual with such protection going through criminal processing at a jail.
That’s where Mr Trump is set to appear by noon on Friday: Fulton County jail, where he is (as of now) expected to be treated the exact same as all other defendants awaiting trial, including having a mug shot taken and fingerprints recorded. The specific process will likely be coordinated with the Secret Service. His attorneys have yet to set an exact date and time for his surrender.
One senior law enforcement official told CNN that current indications point to a surrender occurring on Thursday or Friday morning, just hours or even minutes before the deadline.
Fulton County jail falls far below the resort-quality standards to which Mr Trump is accustomed. It’s a notorious correctional facility in Atlanta, Georgia, that just came under investigation by the Department of Justice this past July over what the federal government alleges are “unsafe, unsanitary living conditions at the jail, [including] excessive force and violence within the jail”, among other issues.
Booking procedures for typical criminal defendants in the US often take hours; in many cases, defendants are incarcerated for several days before they go before a judge. For Mr Trump, that is likely to be expedited, given the Secret Service’s need to ensure his security throughout the day.
Mounting questions about how Mr Trump’s Secret Service protection will handle the booking procedure conjures similar uncertainty about how the agency would be forced to act should the ex-president be convicted in any of his four criminal cases. Out of the four, his prosecution in Georgia for a RICO charge is the only one that carries a mandatory minimum sentence that guarantees a prison sentence.
The ex-president has denied guilt in the Georgia case and the three others in which he faces criminal charges. A trial date is currently being discussed, with prosecutors asking for it to occur next March. Mr Trump’s legal team is thought to be seeking to push all of his eventual trials back as far as possible.
While many of the finer details remain unclear, officials with the jail system have stated that they want the processing of the former president to be handled the same as would any other person’s.
“Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices. It doesn’t matter your status,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat told reporters at a news conference. “We’ve got mug shots ready for you.”