UNITED STATES NEWS

Trump won’t be tried with Powell and Chesebro next month in the Georgia election case, a judge rules

Sep 14, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:04 pm

 

ATLANTA (AP) — Donald Trump will not face trial next month in Georgia after a illegally trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election will be tried separately from two other defendants in the case.

Lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro had filed demands for a speedy trial, and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set their trial to begin Oct. 23. Trump and other defendants had asked to be tried separately from Powell and Chesebro, with some saying they could not be ready by the late October trial date.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last month obtained an indictment against Trump and the others, charging them under the state’s anti-racketeering law and accusing them of participating in an illegal scheme to deny Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican incumbent. All of those charged have pleaded not guilty.

Willis had been pushing to try all 19 defendants together, arguing that it would be fairer and more efficient. McAfee cited the tight timetable, among other issues, as a factor in his decision to separate Trump and 16 others from Powell and Chesebro.

“The precarious ability of the Court to safeguard each defendant’s due process rights and ensure adequate pretrial preparation on the current accelerated track weighs heavily, if not decisively, in favor of severance,” McAfee wrote. He added that it may be necessary to further divide the remaining 17 defendants into smaller groups for trial.

The development is likely welcome news to other defendants looking to avoid being tied by prosecutors to Powell, who perhaps more than anyone else in the Trump camp was vocal about publicly pushing baseless conspiracy theories linking foreign governments to election interference.

Another defendant in the Atlanta case, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has sought to distance himself from Powell and spoke at length about her in an interview with special counsel Jack Smith’s team in Washington, according to a person familiar with his account who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Chesebro and Powell had sought to be tried separately from each other, but the judge also denied that request.

Chesebro is accused of working on the coordination and execution of a plan to have 16 Georgia Republicans sign a certificate declaring falsely that Trump won and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors. Powell is accused of participating in a breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County.

The nearly 100-page indictment details dozens of alleged acts by Trump or his allies to undo his 2020 loss in Georgia, including suggesting the secretary of state, a Republican, could help find enough votes for Trump to win the battleground state; harassing an election worker who faced false claims of fraud; and attempting to persuade Georgia lawmakers to ignore the will of voters and appoint a new slate of electors favorable to Trump.

McAfee said he was skeptical of prosecutors’ argument that trying all 19 defendants together would be more efficient. He noted that the Fulton County courthouse does not have a courtroom big enough to hold 19 defendants, their lawyers and others who would need to be present, and relocating to a bigger venue could raise security concerns.

Prosecutors also had said that because each defendant is charged under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act, the state plans to call the same witnesses and present the same evidence for any trial in the case. They told the judge last week that they expect any trial would take four months, not including jury selection.

But McAfee pointed out that each additional defendant increases the time needed for opening statements and closing arguments, cross-examination and evidentiary objections. “Thus, even if the State’s case remains identical in length, and the aggregate time invested by the Court is increased, the burden on the jurors for each individual trial is lessened through shorter separate trials,” he wrote.

The judge said that to satisfy the demands by Powell and Chesebro for a speedy trial, he will try to have a jury seated by Nov. 3. “With each additional defendant involved in the voir dire process, an already Herculean task becomes more unlikely,” he wrote.

Asked about the judge’s ruling at an unrelated news conference Thursday, Willis said her office is capable of trying big cases. “We’re not scared of large RICO indictments and we’re here for the task and ready to go,” she said.

McAfee also noted that five defendants are currently seeking to move their cases to federal court and litigation on that issue continues. If they were to succeed midway through a trial in state court, it’s not clear what the impact would be, McAfee wrote.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones last week rejected a bid by Mark Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, to move his case to federal court. Meadows is appealing that ruling. The other four have hearings before Jones scheduled next week.

Meadows and three of the others had asked McAfee to halt state court proceedings while their efforts to move to federal court are pending. The judge denied that request.

Meadows had also asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the order sending his case back to state court while his appeal was pending. On Thursday, he withdrew that request, citing the appeals court’s approval of an expedited review and the scheduling order that McAfee entered for the defendants who will not be tried next month.

Also Thursday, McAfee held a motions hearing for Chesebro and Powell, both of whom are seeking the names of unindicted co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment and are trying to speak with the grand jurors who returned the indictment. Chesebro wants transcripts, recordings and reports from a special grand jury that aided the investigation.

Prosecutors agreed to disclose the names of the unindicted co-conspirators but objected to the other two requests. McAfee said he would rule on those two matters later.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Sudhin Thanawala in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 

United States News

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

2 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

3 hours ago

(Suspect mugshot via @KPRC2Bryce/X)...

Associated Press

Texas police arrest suspect in abduction of 12-year-old girl who was found safe after 8 days

Police in Texas have arrested a man suspected in the disappearance of a girl who was missing for eight days before she was safely located.

4 hours ago

FILE - A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Feb. 24, 2024, in Sparta...

Associated Press

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

About 1 in 10 early contest voters who said they supported Trump in the 2020 general election said they wouldn’t be doing so this year.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

2 police horses on the lam cause traffic jam on I-90 in Cleveland area

CLEVELAND (AP) — Drivers on an Ohio interstate came upon an unusual traffic hazard over the weekend — a pair of police horses trotting against traffic on the highway. The two animals on the lam caused an unusual traffic jam Saturday afternoon as they wove through slowing traffic and then stopped it on Interstate 90 […]

10 hours ago

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yogurt sold in the U.S. can ma...

Associated Press

Eating yogurt may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, FDA says

Eating at least two cups of yogurt a week might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Trump won’t be tried with Powell and Chesebro next month in the Georgia election case, a judge rules