Fast or slow trial for Donald Trump and his 18 companions on the bench? Do I process them all together or separately? In a local or federal court? The accusation in Georgia against the former president and 18 of his advisers and his supporters for organizing to alter the electoral results in the State is one of the most complicated legal cases of the four that the real estate magnate faces. In addition to being complex, this process, which began immediately after the former president and his associates were booked this week, has already begun to open cracks among the group of alleged conspirators.
The 19 defendants are accused of creating a mafia-like association to falsify the results of the 2020 elections in Georgia, where Trump lost by less than 12,000 votes, and to keep the then president in the White House. The tycoon is accused of 13 charges.
They are a heterogeneous group that only has in common loyalty to the former president. Among them are former officials, political advisers, Georgia Republican activists, lawyers of various stripes, and even a former public relations officer for rapper Kanye West and a Protestant reverend. Each with different priorities, different financial capacities, and different legal strategies advised by their respective cohorts of lawyers.
This variety of situations and tactics opens the door for several separate trials to be held instead of one big trial against the 19, as the Fulton County prosecutor responsible for the case, Fani Willis, wanted.
One of the defendants, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, has already requested a speedy trial. Willis and the judge in charge of the case, Scott McAffee, have granted his wish: it will begin on October 23. Willis had proposed to prosecute the 19 together, but the magistrate has specified that the date only affects this suspect. Two other defendants, lawyer Sidney Powell and former state legislator Jenna Ellis, have also requested an expedited hearing.
It is not clear what legal benefit they can obtain with this step: if the idea is to prevent Willis from preparing adequately for the process, the prosecutor has stressed that, after an investigation of two and a half years, she is ready as of now. to present their arguments. One reason may be economic: the later, the more lawyers’ fees. And not all of them have the means or the fundraising facilities of the Republican presidential candidate.
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Harvey Silverglate, lawyer for the defendant John Eastman —who has also indicated his interest in a trial as soon as possible— declared to the New York Times that his client “does not have the contributions” that the tycoon can count on.
But the initiatives to speed up the case collide with the strategy of Trump, who wants to delay as much as possible his trial in Georgia and the other three that await him in New York, Miami and Washington, while waiting for the elections to be held this year. next and see if he returns to the White House. The former president’s lawyers have already made it clear that they will ask that his trial be seen separately from the rest.
Trump’s legal team is also considering asking to change the jurisdiction of the case, so that it is heard by a federal court and not a state one, as is now planned. Five other co-defendants, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have already taken that step, which is possible for officials who allege that their alleged crimes were committed in the performance of their government duties and manage to convince a judge of it.
In search of juries favorable to Trump
This change offers obvious advantages for defendants. If things continue as they are, the hearing would be held in Fulton, a district with a Democratic majority. A jury there would likely be tough on the former president and his associates. If the trial were to take place in federal court, the jury would be drawn from a much wider area within Georgia, which would include pro-Trump districts. For the former president, this strategy would bring an added benefit: if he returned to the White House, he could pardon himself in his federal cases, something that is vetoed in state ones.
Meadows’ petition will be heard Monday, the same day Judge Tanya Chutkan will hear defense and prosecution arguments in the federal case over attempts to falsify the 2020 election results in Washington and is expected to set a date for that trial.
In filing his motion to change the court, lawyers for Meadows alleged Friday that he intervened in efforts to change the election outcome in Georgia as part of his White House duties. “As Chief of Staff, Mr. Meadows did not stop assisting the President just because the President was doing something personal or political,” the petition states. “One would not say that the pilot of Air Force One ceases to be a military man when he takes the president to an unofficial act. The same goes for the Chief of Staff. They do not suspend his official status just because the president suspends his ”by participating in an unofficial act, they argue.
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