Georgia Judge: Trump Election Case Trial Won’t Start Next Month
Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:32 PM EDT
A Georgia judge ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump and 16 others will be tried separately from two defendants who are set to go to trial next month in the case accusing them of participating in an illegal scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro had filed demands for a speedy trial, and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had 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 18 others, charging them under the state’s anti-racketeering law in their efforts to deny Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican incumbent.
Willis had been pushing to try all 19 defendants together, arguing that it would be more efficient and more fair. 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 them into smaller groups for trial.
The development is likely to be 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 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.
Also, Trump-aligned lawyer Eric Herschmann, who in 2020 tried to push back against efforts to undo the election, told the congressional committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that he regarded Powell’s ideas as “nuts.”
Chesebro and Powell had sought to be tried separately from each other, but the judge also denied request.
Chesebro is accused of working on the coordination and execution of a plan to have 16 Georgia Republicans sign a certificate declaring 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 i