Donald Trump Pleads Not Guilty in Georgia Election Racketeering Case – According to a court document filed by his attorney in Atlanta’s superior court, Donald Trump has entered a not guilty plea regarding allegations of conspiring and participating in racketeering activities to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Additionally, the former president stated in the same filing that he would waive his arraignment, indicating that he will not be present for the formal reading of the indictment scheduled for next week.
“As evidenced by my signature below,” said the two-page-filing submitted in Fulton county superior court by Trump’s lead lawyer, Steven Sadow, “I do hereby waive formal arraignment and enter my plea of NOT GUILTY to the Indictment in this case.” Trump’s signature, penned with a Sharpie, signifies his fourth consecutive not guilty plea in as many months. Prior to this, he faced indictments in New York for hush-money charges, in Florida for a classified documents case, and in Washington for a federal election subversion case.
Despite the frequency of these pleas, the gravity of the allegations within the extensive 41-count indictment in Fulton County cannot be underestimated. This indictment accuses Trump and 18 co-defendants of violating Georgia’s state Rico statute by orchestrating a multifaceted campaign to undermine the fairness of an election. The plea and arraignment process concludes, ushering in the pre-trial phase of the case. As of now, no trial date has been set for Trump.
However, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has expressed the intent to try all 19 defendants together, commencing on October 23, following a request for a speedy trial by two former Trump lawyers. Donald Trump’s legal team took action on Thursday to separate his case from two co-defendants who have requested expedited trials of their own. “We’re in a huge state of flux right now,” attorney Bob Rubin told Georgia’s WABE.
“The case involving these 19 defendants seems to be going in a lot of different directions all at the same time.” Trump’s legal team is currently considering the possibility of relocating the case to federal court, a decision that hinges on the outcome of former chief of staff Mark Meadows’ efforts. To move the case to the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Trump would need to demonstrate that the alleged criminal conduct outlined in the indictment was connected to his official duties as president.
Essentially acting “under color of office,” and therefore falls under federal jurisdiction rather than state prosecution. The rationale behind seeking removal to federal court lies in two factors: broadening the potential jury pool beyond the predominantly Democratic Atlanta area and the prospect that a federal judge might be less inclined to defer to local prosecutors compared to judges in the Fulton County Superior Court.
Irrespective of the final trial venue and jurisdiction, Trump’s overarching legal strategy has revolved around delay tactics. Even in the Georgia case, legal experts have noted that if Trump were to win re-election, he could potentially halt the case while serving as president. In the previous week, Donald Trump turned himself in at Fulton County Jail, where he underwent standard criminal defendant processing. This procedure involved the collection of his fingerprints, documentation of his height and weight, and compliance with a mugshot.
The booking took place during the prime-time hours when cable news networks have a substantial viewership. It’s reported that Trump, in an apparent attempt to discredit the charges and divert attention from the humiliation of his surrender, insisted that his lawyers negotiate this specific timing with prosecutors. The strategy to turn the surrender into a televised spectacle was aimed at undermining the indictments, according to an informed source. It also aimed to exploit the information gap created by prosecutors after the events, allowing Trump to shape the narrative around the charges.
Furthermore, there’s evidence of a close connection between Trump’s 2024 campaign and his legal team. It was at least explored whether Trump should attend the arraignment and hold a subsequent press conference for “optics” reasons, as mentioned by the source. It’s noteworthy that Trump’s bond was set at $200,000, which was the highest among all his co-defendants, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani had turned himself in for booking a day earlier and had his bond set at $150,000, despite facing primarily the same charges.