ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that team members of Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat went to Miami on Tuesday to help prepare in case former President Donald Trump is charged here in Fulton County.
Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 37 federal counts alleging he mishandled classified documents.
In just weeks, it is expected that Fulton Count District Attorney Fani Willis will announce whether or not charges will be filed against Trump here in Georgia tied to her investigation into possible election interference during Georgia’s 2020 election.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne was the only Atlanta reporter to speak with the Fulton County Sheriff on Tuesday following the former president’s arraignment.
Labat said security in the Fulton County Courthouse is his responsibility and that he sent key members of the Sheriff’s Office leadership team to Miami to observe security there with a former president in court in case such a thing happens here.
“We’re being very proactive about our approach. We’re doing a really good job of reading tomorrow’s newspaper today, understanding what safety and security looks like. So we are prepared holistically,” Labat said.
Labat his team members had a mission of mining security preparations to help prepare back in Atlanta.
“So you have sent teams down to federal court in Miami. Are they there today?” Winne asked Labat.
“They are there today just as they were in New York. And so, again, an opportunity for us to learn and make sure we’re equally prepared,” Labat said.
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The sheriff said it’s the second time this year he’s sent members of his team to the scene of a Trump court appearance following an indictment so that as the man most responsible for security at the Fulton County Courthouse, he can better prepare for what might unfold in Atlanta.
An April 24 letter addressed from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to Labat said, “In the near future, I will announce charging decisions resulting from the investigation my office has been conducting into possible criminal interference in the administration of Georgia’s 2020 general election. I am providing this letter to bring your attention to the need for heightened security and preparedness in the coming months.”
“Our customers that visit the courthouse every day, we want to make sure they know that we have their safety and security at the forefront of everything we do. And so, ultimately, that will expand and our resources will become plentiful and make sure that we can keep everybody safe, not just day one, but throughout any processes,” Labat said.
The sheriff told Winne that he does not know if Trump will face charges in the Georgia investigation.
“This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election, and it should be dropped immediately,” Trump has said in the past.
But Labat said he works closely with Willis and by the date on that letter, he had already sent two commanders to New York City for a first-hand report on security in a Manhattan courthouse when Trump appeared in court there and pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
Labat said the team he has sent to Miami to observe security surrounding Trump’s court appearance in connection with a new federal indictment involving classified documents will debrief with him after the team’s return to Atlanta
That April letter from Willis said, “Open-source intelligence has indicated the announcement of decisions in this case may provoke a significant public reaction. We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence.”
“What’s your biggest challenge, your biggest concern here?” Winne asked Labat.
“Believe it or not, the media and certainly protests, or you look at what history has taught us is that the media has converged from all over the world. This is certainly a national story, and we want to make sure that we protect our media. We want to make sure we protect our citizens and even protect anyone that chooses to protest,” Labat said.
Labat said he has sent the same two commanders to Miami as he sent to Manhattan.
That April letter from Willis indicates she “will be announcing charging decisions resulting from this investigation during Fulton County Superior Court’s fourth term of court, which will begin on July 11, 2023, and conclude on September 1.”
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