Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers argued in the Georgia election case that the charges should be thrown out because it’s a violation of his “free speech” and also noted that if he wins the 2024 presidential election, the Fulton County trial cannot go through.
During a roughly six-hour hearing in Fulton County on Dec. 1, Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee asked Mr. Sadow what would happen if President Trump wins the 2024 election and if the trial hasn’t occurred yet.
It means that the former president wins the 2024 election and Judge McAfee agreed that he shouldn’t be tried until he leaves office, which would delay the trial date to at least January 20, 2029.
Responding to the claims, Fulton County prosecutor Nathan Wade said Ms. Willis “has no interest in interfering or getting involved in this presidential election” and said she is trying “to move this case forward.” He added, ”Our obvious goal is, and has been, to stick to our August trial date.”
The judge did not issue any rulings from the bench during the Dec. 1 hearing. He also has not scheduled a new trial date for the case.
In a recent court filing, Ms. Willis’ office said prosecutors expect the proceedings to run until early 2025, which would run in tandem with the ending months of the 2024 presidential campaign. National polls show that President Trump is overwhelmingly the Republican favorite for president, including in key primary states.
The former president’s lawyers said the former president would prefer not to be on trial in August 2024, noting his status as the leading Republican presidential candidate. State prosecutors previously have said they are seeking a trial date around that time, which would come about three months before the presidential election next November.
“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?” he asked. “That would be the most effective election interference in the history of the United States.”
But Mr. Wade disagreed with his assertion, telling the court: “This trial does not constitute election interference. This is moving forward with the business of Fulton County.”
“I don’t think it in any way impedes defendant Trump’s ability to campaign,” Mr. Wade added.
Also in the hearing, his attorneys argued that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ indictment also effectively criminalizes the right to engage in political activity under the the First Amendment.
Mr. Sadow told a judge that “you take the facts as alleged in the indictment … as applied constitutionally with the First Amendment, you’ll find that it violates free speech, freedom of petitioning, all the expressions that the First Amendment is designed to protect, and therefore the indictment needs to be dismissed.”
Over the summer, Ms. Willis’ office charged President Trump and 18 others, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, with conspiracy to allegedly overturn the 2020 election results. Several co-defendants—including attorneys Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis—have pleaded guilty in return for a plea deal with prosecutors.
The remaining 15 defendants in the case, including President Trump, have pleaded not guilty. The former president, who faces charges in three other jurisdictions, has said it’s part of a wide-ranging campaign to denigrate his political chances.
Ms. Willis had also asked the judge to set a final plea date of June 21, writing that prosecutors would consider plea deals up until that date and intend to recommend the maximum penalties at any sentencing hearings after that. Judge McAfee said Dec. 1 he wasn’t sure that was necessary, that the district attorney could independently set a date after which she wouldn’t consider plea deals.
Attorney Buddy Parker, who represents lawyer and co-defendant John Eastman, told the judge his client is concerned about the possibility of a trial date being set in 2025, saying that would mean it was more than a year that his case would be pending.
“There are a number of defendants, as noted, who are not running for the presidency of the United States,” Mr. Parker said, adding that his client would like to be tried separately from President Trump because of the complications involved and would even be in favor of going to trial before August.