Donald Trump has surrendered to authorities in Georgia at the Fulton County Jail on charges of plotting to overturn the state's 2020 election results in an unprecedented moment resulting in the first-ever mug shot of a former American president.
Trump, 77, spent about 22 minutes inside the jail where he was booked before his release on Thursday. A massive motorcade and police presence accompanied him to the jail from the Atlanta airport and back.
His surrender in Georgia marks the fourth time this year the former president has turned himself in after criminal charges were brought against him by federal and state officials. But it's the first time he was subjected to a mug shot.
Trump, a Republican, also posted the mug shot to his X account, formerly known as Twitter, as well as to Truth Social, both posts with the words "election interference" and "never surrender." It marked Trump's first tweet since January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riots.
The Fulton County Jail released a mugshot picture of him, which soon went viral. The jail authorities recorded him as being 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 215 pounds (97kg), with blond or strawberry hair and blue eyes. His inmate number was P01135809.
Released on a bail of USD 200,000 bond, Trump told reporters soon thereafter that he did nothing wrong.
The conditions of the agreement in part prohibit Trump from intimidating his co-defendants, witnesses or alleged victims in the case, including on social media.
Before he boarded his plane back to New Jersey, Trump said that it was "a very sad day for America." "You should be able to challenge an election," he said. "I thought the election was a rigged election, a stolen election, and I should have every right to do that." Trump’s booking at the Fulton County Jail came 10 days after the former president was charged in Georgia in what was his fourth criminal indictment since March — and his second tied to his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election results and remain in the White House.
Trump was charged alongside 18 co-defendants with meddling in Georgia's election results following his loss to Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes in that state.
Trump is facing 13 counts in the Georgia case, including violating the state’s racketeering act, soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree and conspiring to file false documents.
Trump argues the cases against him are politically motivated because he is leading the Republican race to challenge President Biden, a Democrat, in next year's presidential election.
Half of his co-accused have already been booked at Fulton County Jail in recent days ahead of Friday's deadline. They include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Soon after his mugshot was released, Trump's campaign released it to his supporters for fundraising.
“After spending years trying to overturn the 2020 election, Trump and his associates are FINALLY being held accountable. Our work is far from over, though,” his campaign wrote.
“This is truly a sad day for America,” wrote his son Donald J Trump Jr.
Ahead of his surrender, Trump made changes to his legal team, bringing in Steven Sadow, an Atlanta-based lawyer who specialises in white-collar and high-profile defence, The Washington Post reported.
Sadow entered his appearance as lead counsel for Trump on Thursday, according to a filing with the Fulton County Superior Court, and accompanied Trump to the jail.
Sadow is expected to replace Drew Findling, the lead attorney on Trump's defence team.
Trump continued to criticise Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, whom he accuses of trying to sabotage his White House campaign.
Posting on his Truth Social platform, he blamed Willis for murder and violent crime in Atlanta, writing that "people are afraid to go outside to buy a loaf of bread".
According to The New York Times, The booking of Trump at the Fulton County Jail is only the start of a long legal battle, made more complex by the case’s large number of other defendants.
The next step is arraignment — a formal first appearance before a judge to be formally charged, set bail and enter a plea. The Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, has asked the court to hold the arraignments the week of September 5, the daily reported.
In all Trump faces 91 criminal cases in all four cases. This includes criminal prosecutions in New York in connection with a hush money payment, in Florida for his handling of classified documents and in Washington, DC, for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy called Trump's booking as shameful.
“I think this is shameful. This is an indictment not of Donald Trump, but of our national civic health,” the Indian-American told Fox News.
“That we have gotten to a place where we have a party in power that will use any charge in any jurisdiction — four at the same time — in the middle of an election, designed, mark my words, to stop their lead political rival currently from running,” he said.