Judge skeptical of Fulton County DA's plan to try Trump and 14 associates in single case

 December 14, 2023

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is pushing ahead with plans to prosecute former President Donald Trump and 14 of his associates on charges that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.

While Willis insists that she can handle the sprawling case in a single trial, the judge tasked with presiding over it isn't so sure.

Judge skeptical that defendants' rights can be safeguarded

The Hill noted in an article published on Thursday that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee "has expressed skepticism about the idea of trying too many people at once."

One example of that reticence came in September when he granted a request by former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell to have her case separated from that of the former president.

"The precarious ability of the Court to safeguard each defendant’s due process rights and ensure adequate pretrial preparation on the current accelerated track weighs heavily, if not decisively, in favor of severance," the Associated Press quoted McAfee as writing.

What's more, the judge went on to suggest that it may be necessary to further split off more defendants as time goes on.

Powell later accepted a plea deal offered by Willis, as did fellow former campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and advisor Kenneth Chesebro.

Defense lawyers say case amounts to election interference

The trial's size isn't Willis' only concern, as Trump's legal team argued earlier this month that holding the former president's trial next summer would amount to election interference.

"Can you imagine the notion of the Republican nominee for president not being able to campaign for the presidency because he is, in some form or fashion, in a courtroom defending himself?" Steven H. Sadow told McAfee, according to the Associated Press.

"That would be the most effective election interference in the history of the United States," the defense lawyer went on to insist.

Prosecutor Nathan Wade countered Sadow's claim, saying, "This trial does not constitute election interference. This is moving forward with the business of Fulton County."

Willis calls election interference claim "silly"

"I don’t think that it in any way impedes defendant Trump's ability to campaign or whatever he needs to do in order to seek office," he added.

The Hill observed that for her part, Willis has also rejected any suggestion that her prosecution of Trump amounts to election interference.

"If the prosecutor finds that they violated the law, they have an ethical duty to bring forth charges and so this is a silly notion to me that because one runs from office that your criminal case would stop," The Hill quoted her as telling the Associated Press in a recent interview.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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