Judge Moves Forward with Pretrial Motions in Georgia Election Interference Case

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By journalsofus.com

ATLANTA (AP) — The charges against former President Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case They seek to criminalize political speech and advocacy conduct that the First Amendment protects, their lawyers argued in a court filing challenging the accusation.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee plans to hear arguments on that filing and on two pretrial motions filed by former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer during a hearing scheduled for Thursday. Shafer’s lawyers argue that he acted legally when he and other states Republicans signed a certificate claiming that Trump won the 2020 presidential election in Georgia and declaring themselves “duly elected and qualified” electors of the state.

McAfee is moving forward with the case even as Trump and other defendants have said they plan to seek a ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis. The judge earlier this month rejected defense efforts to remove Willis and her office for her romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, but he did not give permission to the accused look for a review of your decision of the appeals court.

Willis obtained an indictment against Trump and 18 others in August, accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to try to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, which the Republican incumbent narrowly lost to Democrat Joe Biden. All of the defendants were charged with violating Georgia’s broad anti-racketeering law, along with other alleged crimes.

Four people have pleaded guilty after reaching agreements with prosecutors. Trump and the others have pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, although Willis has He asked for it to start in August.

Trump’s lawyers wrote in their filing that the crimes their client is charged with fall into five separate areas: Republican voter certificates introduced by Georgia Republicans; a request to the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives to call a special legislative session; a lawsuit filing challenging the 2020 presidential election; to January 2021 Phone Call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; and a letter sent to Raffensperger in September 2021.

“The First Amendment, by granting the broadest protection to political speech and discussion of governmental matters, not only embraces but encourages exactly the type of behavior attacked in this impeachment,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Prosecutors argued in response that the accusation “is based on criminal acts, not expressions.” Wherever speech is involved, they wrote, it is “speech integral to criminal conduct, fraud, perjury, threats, criminal solicitation, or lies that threaten to deceive and harm the government.”

Most of the charges against Shafer have to do with his involvement in helping organize a group of Georgia Republicans to cast Electoral College votes for Trump even though the state’s election had been certified in favor of Biden. The charges against her include impersonating a public official, forgery, making false statements and writings, and attempting to present false documents.

His lawyers wrote in a document that prosecutors seek to “punish Mr. Shafer for criminal conduct that was legal at the time.” They argued that Shafer “was attempting to comply with the advice of legal counsel” and the requirements of the Electoral Count Act.

Shafer’s attorneys are also asking that three phrases be removed from the indictment: “duly elected and qualified presidential electors,” “false Electoral College votes” and “legal electoral votes.” They argue that those phrases are used to claim that the Democratic slate of electors was valid and the Republican slate of electors that Shafer participated on was not. They maintain that these are “prejudicial legal conclusions” on issues that should be decided by the judge or jury at trial.

Prosecutors argue that Shafer is using “extrinsic facts and incorrect legal conclusions… to suggest in any way that he was or may have been a legitimate presidential elector at the time of the charged conduct.” They agreed that the indictment includes “disputed” and “unproven” allegations, but said “that is not and has never been a reason to dismiss an indictment.”

Willis and his team experienced several setbacks in March. Although McAfee did not agree to defense requests to get her off the case, he harshly criticized her actions and said that Wade, your hand-picked lead prosecutor for the case, must step aside for Willis to continue with the accusation. Just a few days before, the judge dismissed six of the 41 charges In the indictments, including three against Trump, prosecutors were found to have failed to provide sufficient details about the alleged crimes.

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