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Trump asks to sever Georgia election case from co-defendants seeking speedy trial

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala.
Butch Dill | AP

Former President Donald Trump is seeking to sever his criminal election interference case in Georgia from any of his 18 co-defendants who are demanding that the case proceed quickly to trial, a Thursday court filing showed.

The request in Fulton County Superior Court came less than two hours after Trump pleaded not guilty to 13 criminal counts in the sprawling case accusing him of trying to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in Georgia’s 2020 election.

Trump earlier Thursday also waived his right to appear at his arraignment scheduled for next week.

Defense attorney Steven Sadow argued in the new filing that Trump will not have enough time to prepare if his trial begins Oct. 23, the date that has been set for co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro.

So far two co-defendants — Chesebro and the pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell — have requested speedy trials. Only Chesebro has had a trial date set so far.

There are “substantial adverse procedural and substantive ‘effects’ President Trump would endure” if he is held to the same schedule, Sadow wrote.

“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 charge with 161 Overt Acts, Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer, False Statements and Writings, Forgery, Influencing Witnesses, Computer Crimes, Conspiracy to Defraud the State, and other offenses would violate President Trump’s federal and state constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law,” Sadow wrote.

The lawyer also flagged his own potential scheduling conflict: He is set to participate in another trial starting in late September in federal court in Florida. That trial is expected to last up to three weeks, Sadow wrote.

Fani Willis, the Atlanta district attorney prosecuting the case against Trump, has asked a judge to rule that all of the defendants who are granted speedy trials must be tried together.

Trump has been charged with 91 total counts in four separate criminal cases as he campaigns for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. His lawyers in his two federal cases tried to push off his trial until after the November 2024 election. Judges in both cases rejected those efforts.

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