Georgia court severs two of Trump’s co-defendants in election interference case News
Sgt. Dana M Clarke // Public domain
Georgia court severs two of Trump’s co-defendants in election interference case

A Georgia judge agreed on Thursday to sever attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell from the remaining 17 co-defendants in a criminal case in which former US President Donald Trump and his allies are accused of interfering in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. Both Chesebro and Powell already pleaded not guilty to their respective criminal charges. With Thursday’s decision, the two are set to proceed to trial on October 23 in an Atlanta, Georgia courtroom.

In his Thursday decision, Judge Scott McAfee said that severing Chesebro and Powell from the other 17 co-defendants in the case was “simply a procedural and logistical inevitability.” While Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the court that the prosecution would be able to proceed to trial for all 19 co-defendants by the scheduled October 23 trial date, McAfee dismissed the notion.

McAfee noted that, since the court heard arguments on Chesebro and Powell’s severance motions, nine other co-defendants have filed to waive their statutory right to a speedy trial. He also raised concerns that it may be inefficient to try all 19 co-defendants at the same time, citing both logistical concerns about the space required and the potential length of the trial.

Chesebro and Powell also requested to be severed from each other—meaning each would face their criminal charges in their own, separate trials. The court, however, denied their requests. McAfee said his decision to keep the two criminal defendants together for their October 23 trial is meant to promote “judicial efficiency and prevent inconsistent verdicts,” and found that there was little to no risk that jurors would be confused by hearing both cases at the same time.

McAfee aims to have a jury selected and sworn in by—at the latest—November 3 for the trial of Chesebro and Powell. McAfee also noted that any of the remaining eight co-defendants who have not spoken to their statutory speedy trial rights by the time that Chesebro and Powell’s trial begins will automatically join with the two’s trial.

Chesebro and Powell are both facing charges stemming from a violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Willis argues that Chesebro and Powell assisted with Trump’s efforts to interfere in and overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. In doing so, Chesebro is also accused of six criminal charges including one count of conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings and conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Powell faces six criminal charges of her own, spanning two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state.