6:28 pm ET, December 1, 2023
Key actions: Trump lawyers say Georgia charges violate “free speech” and cannot be investigated while he’s president
From CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Jason Morris, Nick Valencia and Holmes Lybrand
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump He argued in court Friday His Georgia election tampering charge should be thrown out because it “infringes on free speech” and if he wins the 2024 election, the trial should be postponed anyway until he finishes his second presidential term.
Commented at the place All-day trial in Atlanta Some of the 14 other defendants beyond Trump featured arguments from attorneys. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee presided over the hearing. Probable trial dateAttempts to refute allegations and discovery matters.
McAfee made no rulings from the bench during the nearly six-hour hearing.
It was the first court appearance for Trump’s legal team in the Georgia case, where he and 14 others face state charges including racketeering, or RICO, for efforts to sway the 2020 election. They are innocent.
The indictment, filed by Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis, essentially, the Trump team argued. Criminalizing political activity It is protected by the First Amendment.
“You take the facts stated in the indictment … as constitutionally applied with the First Amendment, you’ll find that it violates free speech, freedom of petition, all the expression that the First Amendment is designed to protect, and therefore the indictment must be dismissed,” Trump lawyer Steven Sato told the judge.
If the case survives motions to dismiss from Trump and others, Willis hopes to hold a larger trial with the remaining 15 defendants. A trial date has yet to be set, but prosecutors still want it to begin in August 2024, which Trump opposes.
“It’s very possible that my client will be running for President of the United States for the Republican Party at that time,” Sato said, “and would prefer not to be under investigation while he’s at it. Campaign.”
At one point, McAfee asked Sadow What if Trump wins the 2024 election and the impeachment hasn’t happened yet? The question illustrates McAfee’s — and the nation’s — unprecedented challenges: The leading candidate for next year’s GOP nomination has been indicted in four cases.
“Under the sovereign rule and obligation of the President of the United States, this investigation will not take place until he leaves office,” Sado replied.
Fulton County prosecutors pushed back against Sato’s claims that the charges were an attempt to interfere in the 2024 election and undermine Trump’s chances of victory. Trump has said Willis, a Democrat, brought the case because of anti-Republican bias.
Prosecutor Nathan Wade said Willis had “no desire to interfere or be involved in this presidential election” and that his “sole purpose is to move this case forward.”