Trump Georgia election subversion judge dismisses some charges


  • World
  • Wednesday, 13 Mar 2024

FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a campaign rally at the Forum River Center in Rome, Georgia, U.S. March 9, 2024. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer/File Photo

(Reuters) -The judge in Donald Trump's Georgia election subversion trial on Wednesday dismissed three criminal counts against the former U.S. president and three others against co-defendants, a court filing showed on Wednesday, while letting the overall case proceed.

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee decided that allegations by state prosecutors that Trump and his co-defendants tried to get Georgia officials to violate their oaths of office were not detailed enough to sustain those six counts, according to the court filing.

The judge left 35 other criminal counts intact, including 10 against Trump, who is the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election. The central racketeering charge against Trump and his remaining 14 co-defendants remains in place.

Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges that they formed a criminal conspiracy to seek to overturn Trump's loss to Biden in Georgia in the 2020 election.

McAfee said prosecutors could seek a new, more detailed indictment on the dismissed counts.

The Georgia case is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump is facing as he tries to unseat Biden. He also faces federal charges for his efforts to undo his election defeat and is due to stand trial in New York beginning later this month on charges related to hush money paid to a porn star.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all four cases and has said they are all attempts to stop him from regaining the presidency.

Steve Sadow, Trump's lead lawyer in the Georgia case, said prosecutors "failed to make specific allegations of any alleged wrongdoing" in the counts that were dismissed.

"The entire prosecution of President Trump is political, constitutes election interference, and should be dismissed," Sadow said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the case, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and declined further comment.

Lawyers for Trump and five allies, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, challenged allegations that they attempted to get Georgia lawmakers to violate their oaths of office by convincing them to appoint fraudulent slates of pro-Trump electors.

Two of the six charges McAfee dismissed relate to a January 2021 phone call when Trump pressed Georgia's top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to "find" votes to reverse his defeat in the state.

The indictment did not specify in sufficient detail how Trump and his co-defendants could have urged officials to violate their oaths of office or their respective duties under the U.S. or Georgia state constitutions, McAfee found.

"They do not give the defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently, as the defendants could have violated the Constitutions and thus the statute in dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct ways," the judge wrote in his ruling.

McAfee's ruling came as he prepares to issue a highly anticipated decision on whether Willis, the prosecutor overseeing the case, should be disqualified over a romantic relationship with a lawyer she hired to run the prosecution.

Trump's legal team has argued that Willis benefited financially from the relationship and may have lied to the court, allegations Willis denies.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward and Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Will Dunham, Rami Ayyub and Scott Malone)

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