Donald Trump could try to take the Georgia election case to federal court

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to give testimony to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has sued Trump and his Trump Organization, on April 13, 2023 in New York City, United States. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo Acquire License Rights

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Donald Trump may seek to move the Georgia criminal trial accusing him of conspiring to overturn his 2020 U.S. election defeat from state to federal court – a potentially more favorable venue for the former president his attorney said in a court filing Thursday.

Several of Trump’s 18 co-defendants, including his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have filed motions to transfer their cases to federal court since their indictment last month following an investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination against Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, has, like the other defendants, denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Trump and the other defendants were accused of unlawfully pressuring election officials in Georgia to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

Steven Sadow, a lawyer for Trump, wrote in a one-page court filing: “President Trump hereby notifies the court that he may request dismissal of his charges in federal court.”

The federal jury could be more favorable to Trump because he would face a more politically diverse jury than in Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold. A federal trial would also allow him to argue that he is immune from prosecution for actions taken as part of his official duties as president. However, such a move would still result in a lawsuit brought by Willis under Georgia state law.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is expected to rule on requests to move the matter to federal court in the coming weeks.

An attempt by Trump to delay his case could exacerbate legal complications that are already threatening prosecutors’ lofty goal of bringing all 19 defendants to trial as early as next month. Judge Scott McAfee on Wednesday granted a request from former Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell to go to trial on Oct. 23, although he has not yet decided whether the other defendants will join them.

Petitions by Meadows and others to delay their cases could also shake up the case if a judge rules that all 19 defendants should be tried together in federal court.

Trump’s broader legal troubles could lead to further scheduling problems as he may face trial in three more criminal cases next year.

He is facing charges in Florida over his handling of classified documents after he left office, in Washington over his efforts to overturn the election results, and in New York over paying hush money to a porn star before the 2016 election. Trump pleaded guilty to all three Cases not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Jack Queen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham, Susan Heavey and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Legal correspondent specializing in politically explosive cases.