Former President Donald Trump’s legal team argued in an Atlanta court on Friday that his indictment in Georgia for election subversion should be dismissed, claiming it infringes on free speech rights. During the all-day hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, Trump’s lawyers contended that the charges, including racketeering, criminalize protected political activity under the First Amendment. The legal team emphasized that if Trump were to win the 2024 election, the trial should be postponed until after his potential second presidential term.
The hearing, which addressed pretrial motions on the trial date, attempts to dismiss charges, and discovery matters, featured arguments from attorneys representing the 14 co-defendants in addition to Trump. Despite the six-hour proceedings, Judge McAfee did not issue any immediate rulings.
This marked the first in-court appearance for Trump’s legal team in the Georgia case, where the former president and others face state charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. All defendants, including Trump, have pleaded not guilty.
Trump’s lawyer, Steven Sadow, argued that the indictment violated First Amendment rights, stating, “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.”
If the motions to dismiss are unsuccessful, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis intends to consolidate the 15 defendants into one large trial. While a trial date has not been set, state prosecutors aim for an August 2024 start, a timeline Trump opposes, citing his potential presidential campaign.
Sadow highlighted the possibility of Trump running for president again and expressed the preference that the trial not coincide with the campaign. In response to McAfee’s query about the trial’s status if Trump wins the 2024 election, Sadow invoked the Supremacy Clause, suggesting the trial wouldn’t take place until after Trump completes his term, presenting a unique challenge for the justice system and the nation.
Fulton County prosecutors refuted claims that the indictment aimed to influence the 2024 election, emphasizing their commitment to advancing the case. Prosecutor Nathan Wade asserted that Willis’s sole purpose was to move the case forward and not interfere in the presidential election.