By KATE BRUMBACK (Associated Press)
ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday and said he would skip a hearing next week in the case accusing him and others of illegally attempting to cancel the results of the 2020 elections in Georgia.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had set September 6 for impeachment hearings for Trump and the 18 other people charged in the case. A court filing means Trump won’t have to show up for it.
The decision not to appear in person avoids the dramatic indictments that have accompanied the three other criminal cases Trump faces, in which the former Republican president was forced, under tight security, into a hall. hearing and pleaded “not guilty” in front of crowds of onlookers. . Georgian courts have fairly permissive rules regarding news cameras in the courtroom, and the move means Trump won’t have to plead guilty on TV.
Trump and 18 others were charged earlier this month in a 41-count indictment that outlines an alleged scheme to overturn the will of Georgia voters who chose Democrat Joe Biden rather than the incumbent Republican in the presidential election.
Several other people charged in the indictment had already waived their arraignment in court filings, sparing them a trip to the downtown Atlanta courthouse. Trump had previously traveled to Georgia on August 24 to attend Fulton County Jail, where he became the first former president to have his photo taken.
The case, filed under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, is sprawling, and the logistics of bringing it to trial are likely to be complicated. The legal maneuvers in this case have already begun.
At least two defendants have called for a speedy trial and asked to be tried separately from the other defendants in this case. The judge set October 23 as the date for the trial of one of them, Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney who worked on coordinating and executing a plan to get 16 Republicans from Georgia to sign a certificate falsely stating that Trump has won the state and declaring himself the head of state. “duly elected and qualified” voters.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she wants all defendants tried together and she asked the judge to set an Oct. 23 trial date for everyone.
Trump’s attorney, Steve Sadow, said in court that he opposes that date and plans to file a motion to separate Trump’s case from that of anyone who files for a speedy trial.
Some of the other indictees are trying to take their cases to Federal Court. A judge on Monday heard arguments from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on such a request, but the judge did not immediately rule.
Trump, frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, has criticized the lawsuits against him in a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from winning back the White House.