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Trump claims he didn’t have ‘fair notice’ that Georgia actions could be illegal

The former president files several fresh motions to toss out Fulton County election interference charges

Alex Woodward
Tuesday 09 January 2024 04:43 GMT
Trump accuses the FBI and Antifa of 'leading the charge' on Jan 6

Attorneys for Donald Trump claim that the former president didn’t have “fair notice” that his attempts to reverse his Georgia loss in the 2020 presidential election could result in criminal charges against him.

A flurry of filings in Fulton County Superior Court on Monday argue that the sprawling election interference case against Mr Trump “consists entirely of core political speech at the zenith of First Amendment protections”.

Attorneys for the former president want the case dismissed on grounds that he has “presidential immunity” from actions while in office, that he was already acquitted for similar allegations in his second impeachment trial, and that he was never told that what he was doing in the state – where he is charged as part of an alleged racketeering scheme to unlawfully subvert the state’s election results – could be prosecuted.

“Our country has a longstanding tradition of forceful political advocacy regarding widespread allegations of fraud and irregularities in a long list of presidential elections throughout our history, therefore, President Trump lacked fair notice that his advocacy in the instance of the 2020 presidential election could be criminalized,” according to his attorneys.

The filings come one day before Mr Trump is expected to appear inside a courtroom in Washington DC, where his attorneys will try to convince a three-judge appeals court panel that he should be immune from prosecution in a parallel federal case charging him with conspiracy and obstruction for his attempts to overturn 2020 results.

In Georgia, Mr Trump is charged alongside more than a dozen co-defendants – including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former attorney Rudy Giuliani – who allegedly made up a “criminal enterprise” to overturn the state’s election results, from using a so-called “fake elector” scheme to falsely assert his victory in the state and pressuring election workers and state officials, to seizing vote information from machines in another county in the state.

Four of his original co-defendants in the Fulton County case – including Trump-allied attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell – reached plea deals with prosecutors.

Mr Trump and his remaining co-defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants a trial to begin in August 2024.

During a court hearing in Atlanta last month, attorneys for Mr Trump argued that he shouldn’t be on trial until he leaves the White House, should the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination for president be elected to a second term.

“Can you imagine the notion of the Republican nominee for president not being able to campaign for the presidency because he is, in some form or fashion, in a courtroom defending himself?” Mr Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow told Judge Scott McAfee last month.

Asked by the judge whether Mr Trump should then face trial in 2025, if he wins, Mr Sadow suggested that he shouldn’t be on trial until at least January 2029, at the end of his term.

“The answer to that is, I believe that under the Supremacy Clause and his duties as president of the United States, this trial would not take place at all until after he left his term of office,” Mr Sadow said.

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