Trump, other defendants seek to dismiss or delay Georgia election interference case
Written by ABC Audio ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on December 1, 2023
(ATLANTA) — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump and several of his co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case are set to appear in court to seek the dismissal of the case or push back on upcoming deadlines during a pair of back-to-back hearings Friday.
Lawyers for Trump, former Trump campaign attorney Ray Smith, and so-called alternate elector David Shafer are expected to argue their motions for the case’s dismissal, or the dismissal of specific counts, in the first hearing of the day, based on what they argue are various flaws in the way the indictment was drafted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
It could mark the first time Trump’s attorney presents arguments in the sweeping racketeering case that accuses Trump and 18 others of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state.
Smith is seeking, among other motions, the dismissal of the top racketeering or RICO charge, which accuses the defendants of participating in an “enterprise” — a characterization that Smith argues is too broad.
“If such an enterprise existed, it is comprised of millions of Americans, including legislators, lawyers, government officials and ordinary citizens,” Smith’s motion for dismissal said.
Willis, in an opposing motion, argues that Smiths’ claims are “unsupported by law” and that the indictment “sufficiently” demonstrates a RICO enterprise.
Trump has adopted the motions of his co-defendants, and later filed a motion that seeks to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he’s being prosecuted for political speech that is protected under the First Amendment. It is unclear if that motion will be argued on Friday.
ABC News contributor Chris Timmons, a former Georgia prosecutor, described the motions as “procedural attacks” on the indictment. Timmons said that if any of the motions are granted, the specific counts would be dismissed — but that the defendants could be re-indicted by the state.
Lawyers for Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark will present arguments during the day’s second hearing to try to delay several rapidly approaching deadlines in the case.
Meadows is seeking a two-month extension to the Dec. 4 deadline for discovery and the Jan. 8 deadline for pretrial motions, citing his ongoing effort to remove his case to federal court.
“The request for a relatively brief extension is made in an effort to prevent Mr. Meadows from having to litigate the same case simultaneously in two separate courts while the Eleventh Circuit decides on an expedited schedule, the removal action,” his filing states.
Clark is also seeking to delay those deadlines, citing his own federal removal effort, as well as his ongoing disciplinary case, brought by the D.C. bar, that’s underway in Washington, D.C., .
Clark’s attorney said Clark’s “very difficult and congested calendar” would overburden Clarke and compromise the adequacy of his representation.
Trump, Clark, Meadows, Smith, Shafer and 14 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in the Fulton County district attorney’s sweeping racketeering indictment. Defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jena Ellis and Scott Hall subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.
The former president has blasted the district attorney’s investigation as being politically motivated.
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