Three defendants joined with Donald Trump in a wide-ranging Fulton County racketeering indictment are pointing fingers at the former president and his campaign for their role in the vote-rigging plot, signaling they may be willing to cooperate with prosecutors Trying to cooperate to score a point “Treasure deal,” legal experts say.
Former Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer, former Coffee County GOP Chair Cathy Latham and State Representative Shawn Still argued in court filings last week that their actions were carried out under the direction of the Trump campaign. according to the Wall Street Journal. The three defendants said that when they produced documentation alleging their ability to legitimately cast votes for Trump to the Electoral College, they acted in accordance with the campaign’s instructions.
“As a presidential elector, Mr. Still also acted at the direction of the incumbent President of the United States,” argued an attorney for Still in a court filing. “The President’s attorneys have directed Mr. Still and the other electors to meet and cast their ballots on December 14, 2020.”
Latham has similarly claimed that she acted “at the direction of the President of the United States,” as does Shafer, who claimed that he “and the other Republican voters in the 2020 election acted at the direction of the incumbent President and others.” Bundestag electors have acted”. Officer.”
Republicans in Georgia could also claim in court that they acted on orders from Trump or his close associates, which would be “bad news” for Trump because such a statement would serve to more narrowly summarize the sprawling system alleged in the indictment Trump at the helm, former federal prosecutor Kevin O’Brien told Salon.
“At the same time, while such testimony could be a mitigating factor for the three defendants at sentencing, it is not a legal defense that would prevent their conviction,” O’Brien said. “Each is rightly accused of knowingly violating state law, especially since each held a position of responsibility either within the state Republican Party (Shafer) or within the state electoral system (Latham and Still).”
The three Republicans claim they acted with the consent of the then president and a team of his attorneys, arguing that they should generally be protected from state prosecution because they believed their actions were consistent with a federal duty.
Shafer and a group of 15 fellow Republican voters met in the state capital on Dec. 14, 2020, and signed a document falsely declaring that Trump had won Georgia. Trump and his allies are now facing charges for their alleged role in trying to overturn the results.
“Their individual arguments are that they acted as federal officials performing federal duties,” former San Francisco prosecutor Lateef Gray told Salon. “As a result, they feel immune to prosecution in a state court.”
The defendants want their cases referred to federal court, Gray added, explaining that in this case they would likely argue that they were immune from prosecution because they were acting “under cover of their federal positions,” which meant that they did what their federal court positions allow them to do.
There is no protection against a “blatantly unlawful act,” such as misrepresenting yourself as a duly elected presidential voter and claiming Trump directed or asked you to do so, O’Brien said. “You should have known better.”
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani agreed, saying that “this is essentially the ‘Nazi defense’ of ‘I was just following orders'”.
“Legally, you can’t just order someone to break the law,” Rahmani said. “On the other hand, if the most powerful person in the free world or their lawyer tells you to do something, you probably will. So the question is whether the jury will buy their argument. The legal.” term is menrea, or “guilty ghost”. If the defendant convinces the jury that he really believed he was doing something lawful, there is no ground for criminal liability.”
Mark Meadows, former Trump White House chief of staff, and Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, have also petitioned to have their charges transferred to federal court.
But none of them have strong arguments to take their cases to federal court, particularly the wrong voters, Mai Ratakonda, an attorney with voting rights group States United Democracy Center, told Salon.
“I don’t think their attempts to abolish the federal court will be successful,” Ratakonda said. “If a federal judge rules that the trial of one or more of these co-defendants could be moved to federal court, [this would raise the question of] Can only this defendant have his case moved to federal court, or will the entire case be brought to federal court against all defendants?”
If the case moves to federal court, the defendants could benefit from having a jury pool drawn from more rural and conservative parts of Georgia rather than from the predominantly liberal Fulton County. There is also the possibility of designating a Trump-appointed federal judge.
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Defendants in the Georgia election interference case are accused of pressuring elected officials to reverse Trump’s defeat, using bogus “voters” in Georgia to cause individuals to proclaim him president, rigging voting machines and conducting various activities that aim to undermine democracy. according to the charge. These efforts reportedly served to maintain Trump’s presidency despite his electoral loss to President Joe Biden.
But if one of the co-defendants decides to cooperate with prosecutors, they will likely get a “honey deal,” meaning their charges will be “dismissed or minimized” in exchange for testifying against their co-defendants, Gray said.
That’s the strategy Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is employing here, Rahmani said.
“Willis took the ‘kitchen sink’ approach and charged 19 co-conspirators with RICO charges and put maximum pressure on them to turn around and cooperate,” Rahmani said. “She doesn’t want to try 19 people at once. With all of these defendants, there is no way the case can go before November because they will raise all sorts of questions. The more accused, the more difficult the case becomes.”
He added that in Georgia it was “a ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ situation”. While it is best for all of the defendants to stick together and not tip any of them over, it is better for each individual to work together. And “usually whoever cooperates first gets the best deal.”
on the Fulton case