Prospects of a trial next month in Georgia for former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants appear to be fading.
Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis’ aim to keep all of the co-defendants together for a singlular trial starting Oct. 23 is being challenged with legal maneuvers that could foil the quick start, The Hill reported.
Five defendants have tried to move their charges to federal court, two have demanded a speedy trial, and a majority have focused on severing their charges from fellow co-defendants, the outlet noted.
“It just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in 40 something days,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee conceded last week, The Hill reported.
Meanwhile, defense strategies are becoming clear.
Five of the 19 co-defendants are trying to move their charges from state court to federal court, a process called removal that could tie up the case for months, The Hill reported.
That tactic is being tried by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Three pro-Trump individuals charged with signing documents purporting to be Georgia’s valid electors are also using that maneuver, The Hill reported.
Trump’s own lawyer is suggestiong the former president may follow in their footsteps, the outlet added.
Though a federal judge denied Meadow’s request for removal to federal court last week, an appeal has been filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But McAfee has already suggested removals would make it difficult to accomplish Willis’ goal of trying all the defendants in state court next month.
“It could potentially even optimistically be a six-month turnaround just for the 11th Circuit to come up with a decision, right?” McAfee said at a hearing last week, The Hill reported.
“Yes, sir,” responded Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten.
Even after the 11th Circuit weighs in, the losing side could prolong the dispute by bringing it to the Supreme Court.
Some legal experts believe if any one defendant’s request is successful, the others’ charges would automatically be moved as well.
Two co-defendants, lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, have further complicated the timeline by invoking their right to a speedy trial. A joint trial is set to start Oct. 23, The Hill noted.
Judge McAfee, meanwhile, has said he plans to set a schedule after the parties submit a new round of written briefs by Tuesday, The Hill reported. The judge has already said he is “very skeptical” that Trump and the others would go to trial in October.
“It’s not easy, and we’ve got, again, less than two months to figure this out. So I think to kind of charge ahead without coming to some thoughts on this very soon might be risky,” McAfee said at last week’s hearing, The Hill reported.
Attorneys for Ray Smith, who was a member of Trump’s legal team in Georgia, suggested breaking the 19 defendants into “manageable groups,” which they signaled would be suggested after discovery in mid-September.
With each defendant represented by different counsel — and each having their own best interests at heart — it’s all but certain the defendants will increasingly butt heads as a trial nears, according to The Hill.
“The actions of Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell are akin to oil and water; wholly separate and impossible to mix (into one conspiracy),” Chesebro’s lawyer wrote in court filings, the outlet noted.
A handful of fake electors have also started pointing the finger at Trump, the outlet noted.
David Shafer, who served as the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, blamed Trump in a petition to move the Fulton County case to federal court, The Hill reported.
“Mr. Shafer and the other Republican Electors in the 2020 election acted at the direction of the incumbent President and other federal officials,” his attorneys wrote in the Aug. 21 court filing, The Hill reported.
Fran Beyer ✉
Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.
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