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Georgia judge drops six charges in Trump election interference case | US Election News 2024

Georgia judge drops six charges in Trump election interference case |  US Election News 2024


A Georgia judge has dismissed some of the charges against former US President Donald Trump and his allies as they face criminal charges for alleged election interference in the southeastern state.

Six of the 41 counts in the Georgia indictment will be dismissed, according to a nine-page court filing released Wednesday.

This includes three counts against Trump, although he still faces 10 other counts.

The six dismissed counts all focus on whether Trump and his co-defendants incited elected officials to violate their oath of office in their alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race.

That vote saw Democrat Joe Biden emerge victorious over incumbent Trump, with victories in battleground states like Georgia proving crucial.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, however, noted that the six counts in question, at this time, do not provide enough information to move forward.

As written, these six counts contain all the essential elements of the crimes but do not provide sufficient detail about the nature of their commission, McAfee wrote.

They do not give defendants enough information to intelligently prepare their defense, because defendants could have violated the Constitutions and therefore the law in dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct ways.

McAfee's decision, however, left intact the most serious charge in the case, racketeering. It also leaves open the possibility for prosecutors to request a new, more detailed indictment on the six dismissed counts.

Alleged pressure campaigns under surveillance

Two of the dismissed charges related to an hour-long phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in early January 2021.

That phone call, which was leaked to the media in the days that followed, appeared to show Trump pressuring Raffensperger to change the Georgia election results in his favor. Biden had won the state by a narrow margin: 11,779 votes.

All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than us, Trump told Raffensperger in a recording of their call.

At the time, Trump sought to advance his false claim that the presidential election was tainted by widespread voter fraud. He has insisted in the years since that the 2020 election was stolen from him, as part of a conspiracy.

Biden's victory in Georgia gave him the state's 16 Electoral College votes, which ultimately decide who is elected president.

The six counts identified in Wednesday's ruling also related to actions taken by key Trump allies, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, attorney Ray Smith III and the former chief of staff of the White House Mark Meadows.

They, too, had previously been accused of pressuring members of the Georgia legislature, as well as Raffensperger, to illegally appoint presidential electors or illegally influence certified election results.

As a result of Wednesday's ruling, Meadows now faces just one charge in the Georgia case: racketeering.

A case centered on racketeering

The Georgia case is just one of four criminal charges Trump faces as he seeks re-election in November.

The state's case largely revolves around charges brought under Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO.

Originally created to prosecute organized crime, RICO allows authorities to consolidate a set of charges in order to eradicate a criminal enterprise. Prosecutors must demonstrate a pattern of racketeering activity, carried out in pursuit of a common goal.

Charges under the RICO Act carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

Trump initially had 18 co-defendants in the case, including Giuliani, Smith and Meadows. Some, however, have since reached plea deals in exchange for their cooperation with prosecutors. Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall was the first to agree to a deal, followed by attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.

The prosecution has faced obstacles in recent weeks, however, as Trump's legal team has sought to disqualify Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis.

In January, the defense filed a motion to remove Willis from the case, on the grounds that she committed misconduct by dating the special counsel in the case, Nathan Wade. McAfee is expected to rule on the motion in the coming weeks.

If Willis were to be disqualified because of his relationship, it would almost certainly delay the trial in Georgia. Prosecutors had requested an Aug. 5 start date for voting, three months before the November general election.

An imminent election

The legal drama unfolds against the backdrop of a heated presidential race. On Tuesday, Trump won enough Republican delegates in the primary process to effectively clinch the party's nomination.

That puts him on track to face Biden again, who is also expected to be his party's nominee.

However, it is unclear what effect these four criminal cases will have on the race. Beyond the Georgia indictment, Trump faces a criminal case in Manhattan related to secret payments he made during the 2016 race.

The other two criminal indictments are at the federal level. One concerns his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his actions during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The other concerns his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

The Manhattan case is the first to go to trial. The start is scheduled for March 25.




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