Judge denies Trump's motion to have Georgia election case dismissed on 1st Amendment grounds

Trump said the election subversion charges violated his First Amendment rights.

A Fulton County judge on Thursday denied a motion from former President Donald Trump and several of his co-defendants seeking to have the Georgia election interference case thrown out based on First Amendment challenges.

Trump and others had argued, in part, that the Fulton County indictment violated their First Amendment right to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.

In his order denying the motion, Judge Scott McAfee wrote that "Even core political speech addressing matters of public concern is not impenetrable from prosecution if allegedly used to further criminal activity."

The judge, in his ruling, said that the indictment alleges more than just political statements.

"The State has alleged more than mere expressions of a political nature," the judge wrote. "Rather, the indictment charges the Defendants with knowingly and willfully making false statements to public officers and knowingly and willfully filing documents containing false statements and misrepresentations within the jurisdiction of state departments and agencies."

McAfee also wrote that he was unable to find "any authority that the speech and conduct alleged is protected political speech."

The protection afforded specifically by the Petition Clause of the First Amendment -- which allows the ability to communicate with government officials -- "does not extend to allegedly fraudulent petitions," McAfee wrote.

"In other words, the law does not insulate speech allegedly made during fraudulent or criminal conduct from prosecution under the guise of petitioning the government," he wrote.

In a statement, Trump attorney Steve Sadow said they "respectfully disagree" with the ruling, but took note of McAfee allowing them to raise the issue later.

"It is significant that the court's ruling was without prejudice, as it made clear that defendants were not foreclosed from again raising their 'as-applied' challenges at the appropriate time after the establishment of a factual record," Sadow said.

Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty last August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Four co-defendants subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

The former president has blasted the district attorney's investigation as being politically motivated.