Trump, after entering not guilty plea, seeks to sever his Georgia election interference case

He wants to separate his case from defendants who have requested a speedy trial.

September 2, 2023, 5:44 PM

Hours after entering a plea of not guilty in the Georgia election interference case Thursday, former President Donald Trump filed a motion to sever his case from other defendants who have requested a speedy trial.

The moves came after a judge last week set a trial date of Oct. 23 for co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro, who had requested a speedy trial -- prompting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to reiterate her desire to try all of the case's 19 defendants together.

In his filing Thursday, Trump's attorney Steve Sadow said that he "will not have sufficient time to prepare" for the case by Oct. 23.

"Respectfully, requiring less than two months preparation time to defend a 98-page indictment, charging 19 defendants, with 41 various charges including a RICO conspiracy charges with 161 Overt Acts ... would violate President Trump's federal and state constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law," the filing said.

Defendant Sidney Powell has also filed for a speedy trail, with her attorneys saying in a filing Wednesday that Powell has "no substantive connection with any other defendant regarding the charges in the Indictment."

Earlier Thursday, Trump entered a not guilty plea in the case and waived his right to appear at his arraignment.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee on Monday set the date of Sept. 6 for all 19 defendants to be arraigned on charges and enter their pleas in the case.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a Farmers for Trump campaign event at the MidAmerica Center on July 7, 2023, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a Farmers for Trump campaign event at the MidAmerica Center on July 7, 2023, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

By late Friday, 11 other defendants in the case had also entered not guilty pleas in order to avoid appearing at their scheduled arraignment. Chesebro, Rudy Giuliani, Harrison Floyd, Michael Roman, Robert Cheeley, Scott Hall and Stephen Lee pleaded not guilty on Friday, after Powell, Jenna Ellis, Trevian Kutti and Ray Smith III entered not guilty pleas earlier in the week.

The former president and the other 18 defendants were charged earlier this month in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia.

Trump has said his actions were not illegal and that the investigation is politically motivated.

In a related development Thursday, the Fulton County DA's office and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows both responded to a federal judge's request for more briefings regarding Meadows' effort to remove his case from state court into federal court.

After presiding over a hearing on the matter earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones had asked each party to answer whether or not Meadows would qualify for removal to federal court if only some of his acts alleged in the indictment were carried out under the color of his office.

The DA's office, in its response Thursday, said that "the answer to this question is no," arguing that Meadows is not being prosecuted for his individual acts, but rather because he allegedly "knowingly and willfully entered into an agreement to violate Georgia's RICO [racketeering] law."

Meadows, on the other hand, in his new filing said "the answer is yes" to the judge's question, arguing that removal is required if "any part" of his duties relate to his office.

"If the court finds that any charged conduct relates to Mr. Meadow's official duties, that is the end of the inquiry," the filing states.

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