In multiple filings Monday, attorneys for former President Donald Trump moved to quash seven charges against him from the Fulton County indictment, adopting arguments co-defendants who have severed their cases from his used in their own motions.
President Trump and 18 others were charged with racketeering over their actions to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia in an 98-page, 41-count indictment. The former president is now campaigning to run in 2024, facing a busy court schedule with four criminal indictments and several other civil cases as he seeks reelection.
Co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, both attorneys who advised President Trump after the 2020 elections, have had their cases severed from the rest and will be tried together on Oct. 23.
President Trump adopted Ms. Powell’s general demurrer and motion to dismiss the charge of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, citing “violation of fundamental constitutional principles of due process and fair warning.”
All defendants had been charged with violating RICO, and President Trump was charged with 13 counts total, the most of any of the 19 defendants.
Ms. Powell had also sought to dismiss six charges related to alleged voting machine tampering, which President Trump was not charged with. Her attorneys argued that dismissal of those false charges would then disqualify her from being charged under the RICO statute, which requires one to have participated in two or more criminal acts.
President Trump also adopted Mr. Chesebro’s motions to quash charges on counts nine, 11, 17, 15, 13, and 19.
Count nine charged the defendants with “conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer,” and Mr. Chesebro argued that the indictment “fails to identify” and “fails to sufficiently allege what kind of public officer the Republican electors allegedly impersonated” while mischaracterizing how the electors presented themselves, and
Counts 11 and 17 are charges of “conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree.” Mr. Chesebro argued that the counts failed to allege a “material element of forgery” while alleging conduct beyond the scope of the statute it cites.
Count 15 is a charge of “conspiracy to commit filing false documents,” and Mr. Chesebro argued that the indictment “fails to properly allege that the document at issue involved an effort to encumber property” nor that the Republican electors certificates included any false statement.
Counts 13 and 19 are charges of “conspiracy to commit false statements and writings,” to which Mr. Chesebro argued that the counts failed to “allege a false statement” and neither the governor or secretary of state had the authority to “act on the statements within the allegedly mailed documents.”
Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County in Georgia, is prosecuting the case and claims the actions in the indictment constitute a “racketeering conspiracy enterprise.” According to the indictment, actions around the organizing of Republican electors, and the electors casting ballots, were illegal, and a number of the electors have been charged with “impersonating” public officers.
Mr. Chesebro had helped organize alternate slates of electors in multiple states, including Wisconsin and Georgia. The indictment cites meetings and communications on the part of Mr. Chesebro as overt acts “in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
The indictment charges several other attorneys who advised President Trump after the 2020 elections, and several of those attorneys have remarked upon the announcement of the indictment that they acts they were charged over were the actions of a practicing lawyer. Mr. Chesebro thus argued in his motion to quash the charges that the counts themselves failed to allege anything criminal.
The indictment is a sprawling one, involving 19 co-defendants who are not all familiar with each other, 41 counts, and 150 witnesses just from the prosecution’s side.
As such, it only makes sense that the case be separated into several other smaller cases, attorneys have argued. Last week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said much the same, agreeing to try Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro together due to their demand for a speedy trial, but keeping the cases together despite their separate natures. He remarked that it was likely that the rest of the 17 defendants would also have their cases severed into smaller groups in the interest of reducing the burden on the jurors.
The judge also noted another complication—five defendants are trying to remove their cases to federal court. Mark Meadows, chief of staff for the former president, is appealing in the 11th Circuit now after his request was denied by a federal judge. Mr. Meadows had made a surprise appearance to testify at his own hearing, which lasted all day and involved several witnesses.
The four other defendants seem to want to avoid what Mr. Meadows went through, and several have waived their right to appearing at the hearings. Jeffrey Clark, former assistant attorney general, was absent from his hearing on Monday, and three alternate electors will have their hearing Wednesday.
Any federal ruling or appeal may need to be taken into consideration in state court, Judge McAfee noted, which may complicate the state proceedings.
Furthermore, several defendants have filed motions to dismiss the case entirely, and the prosecution has yet to respond.
Last week, President Trump filed a similar motion, adopting arguments by co-defendants Rudy Giuliani and Ray Stallings Smith III to dismiss the Fulton County case.