Fulton County’s high-profile 2020 presidential election interference case briefly fell out of the public eye after a busy October filled with court hearings and plea deals by prosecutors with several of Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the sweeping conspiracy investigation.
Hearings resumed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court. A defense attorney representing Harrison Floyd, a former director of Black Voices for Trump, urged a judge to order several government agencies to produce evidence that he said would support claims that more than 41,000 missing votes resulted in Trump being defeated The Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden, is running in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is expected to make a decision in the coming days on whether the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, the Fulton County Department of Registration & Elections and the Clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court will comply with the claims by Floyd to request an extensive amount of election-related documents.
Floyd is calling on government authorities to hand over 145,000 2020 Fulton mail-in ballots along with every mail-in ballot application and ballot envelope. Floyd also wants to review the full investigative reports into allegations that poll worker Ruby Freeman of Fulton and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss intentionally manipulated a suitcase full of mail-in ballots to favor Biden.
Floyd, a former US Marine and mixed martial arts fighter, is accused of harassing Freeman to intimidate her into falsely admitting to committing voter fraud while counting mail-in ballots at the State Farm Arena following the November 3, 2020 general election.
Fulton prosecutors allege in a racketeering case that Trump, several of his personal and campaign lawyers and other Trump allies illegally conspired to overturn the 2020 election.
“If he believed at the time that Trump won, and it turns out that we find evidence that Trump won, his actions may have been justified,” Floyd’s attorney, Christopher Kachouroff, said at Friday’s hearing.
Georgia’s top election officials subsequently vouched for Biden’s victory multiple recounts and an exam. Investigations by an Atlanta-based U.S. attorney and Trump’s then-attorney general found no evidence of significant voter fraud.
Floyd, the only one of 18 defendants to spend time in Fulton Jail, is charged with racketeering and conspiracy, as well as influencing a witness and solicitation to make false statements and writings.
Investigators from the Secretary of State and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that the right-wing conspiracies alleging fraud by Moss and Freeman were baseless and false.
Biden what certified the winner in Georgia with a lead of almost 12,000 votes over Trump.
Freeman has spoken publicly about how the allegations prompted so many threats from election deniers that she had to move from her Fulton County home of two decades.
Experts predict more pea deals before the trial
Last month, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office was spared an expensive and time-consuming trial that was scheduled to begin Oct. 23 after co-defendants Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges just before jury selection got into full swing.
Powell was sentenced Oct. 19 to six years probation for conspiring to interfere with the exercise of election duties in orchestrating a Coffee County election Violation of the electoral system after the 2020 presidential election.
A day later, Chesebro’s plea agreement was approved, just hours after several hundred potential jurors filled out a questionnaire for his trial. Chesebro admitted to planning the Republican alternative election platform to prevent Biden from taking office in January 2021.
Political and criminal law experts said prosecutors and defense attorneys were still busy negotiating behind the scenes, even though lawyers were not filing a flood of documents with the court and hearings were not being broadcast live.
Fulton prosecutors are expected to continue pushing for Trump and his remaining co-defendants to be tried together on election interference charges.
Shortly after the indictment of Fulton 19 in August, Trump’s lawyers and District Attorney Fani Willis disagreed over prosecutors’ request to begin the trial on March 4, a day before a “Super Tuesday” election involving Trump and other Republicans Presidential candidates are expected to participate in the presidential primaries in Georgia and several other states.
However, a March 4 trial in Fulton could conflict with Trump’s federal election subversion trial in Washington, D.C., which a judge has scheduled for the same day.
Trump’s lawyers are pushing for the Georgia trial to begin sometime after the Nov. 5 general election, in the hope that the Republican front-runner will have won a second term in the White House by then.
Several political experts have predicted that Floyd would be the next defendant to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.
Willis also could face a hurdle as he tries to try a large number of defendants together at the downtown Atlanta courthouse. The Fulton prosecutor has predicted the trial will last about four months and about 150 witnesses will be called to the stand.
However, McAfee expressed reluctance to hold a joint trial with multiple defendants in a case that is also expected to draw a large group of journalists seeking seats on the courtroom benches.
“The judge has made it clear that the venue is not large enough to accommodate all of the defendants and their attorneys,” said Fred Smith, an election law professor at Emory Law School.
Smith predicts more defense attorneys will follow Chesebro and Powell’s lawyers in arguing that it would disadvantage jurors if their clients were tried at the same time as their co-defendants.
Former longtime Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said the judge will ultimately have the final say on the timing and other logistical aspects of a trial.
He said Fulton prosecutors will continue to put pressure on the defendants by threatening an impending trial.
There is a high likelihood that other alleged Trump co-conspirators will reach deals in the coming weeks, Porter said.
The four defendants who did this made an admission of guilt have been sentenced to several years of probation since the end of September and are entitled to have their convictions expunged from court records if they successfully complete the probation period and cooperate fully with the public prosecutor’s office.
“You have to keep the pressure on,” Porter said of prosecutors. “How did they do it? They keep saying we’re going to trial in two months. You prepare your moves, you prepare your discovery, you keep putting them in their place by being aggressive.”
A defendant’s ability to provide damaging testimony as a state witness against co-defendants depends on whether he has direct contact with Trump or other members of his inner circle whom prosecutors view as ringleaders, Smith said.
Jenna Ellis, a former Trump campaign lawyer, may be a strong witness for the state because she likely communicated directly with Rudy Giuliani and Ray Smith, as well as possibly with Trump himself, Porter said.
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