Trump and allies enter big week for election 2020 election interference indictment charges

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is planning a Sept. 8 release of a special grand jury’s report on the 2020 election interference case. (Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder)

An eventful week lies ahead in the Fulton County election interference case with arraignments and the potential release of a special grand jury report that was a prelude to the racketeering charges filed against Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants last month.

There have been a flurry of court filings and hearings on the 2020 election collusion case since a grand jury on Aug. 14  indicted the former Republican president and 18 of his supporters over allegations they illegally conspired to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia and several other states. 

Defendants are scheduled to appear in Fulton County Superior Court on Wednesday for their arraignments, during which they will be formally read the criminal charges they are facing and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Last week, Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee gave the 19 defendants the opportunity to formally waive their arraignment within 48 hours of Wednesday’s court date.

Several defendants, including Trump, attorneys Ray Smith and Sidney Powell and entertainment publicist Trevian Kutti, took advantage by entering not guilty pleas and  voluntarily waiving their rights to appear in court on Wednesday.

As of Friday evening, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was still among the co-defendants who had not yet waived their arraignments.

There is also the possibility that the week concludes on Friday with the release of the special purpose grand jury’s report that recommended prosecutors consider criminal charges against several people for their roles in trying to disrupt the 2020 election.

District attorneys use special grand juries to review evidence for extensive investigations, but they cannot indict criminals like a regular grand jury.

According to a court filing from Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the special grand jury, the full report will be published online by 5 p.m. Friday if there are no objections.

The special grand jury over the course of seven months last year heard testimony from 75 witnesses over seven months, including people with direct connections to Trump, election experts, poll workers, elected officials and state employees.

Since February, several media outlets have challenged Fulton County District Fani Willis’ objections to the report’s release as she argued that it could hinder the investigation prior to any potential indictments against suspects.

The first portions of the document released in February revealed that a majority of 23 jurors believed that multiple people perjured themselves, but did not identify potential suspects or other potential criminal charges.

Federal judge considers ex-Trump officials request 

A ruling could come down this week from U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones on a request from former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to have his case moved to federal court in Atlanta. 

Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark are seeking to have their cases removed from state court under the legal theory that the criminal charges they face occurred while they were performing their job duties on behalf of the federal government. Federal law prohibits states from prosecuting federal officers who are acting in their official capacities. 

Meadows is accused of racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer for his role in a phone call in which Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, to “find 11,780 votes,” which would have been enough to tilt Georgia’s election in the outgoing president’s favor. 

Meanwhile Clark, while serving as Trump’s top environmental lawyer in 2020, is accused of providing advice that encouraged officials in several other states to appoint an alternate slate of 2020 GOP electors who would cast votes declaring Trump the winner over Biden. 

The indictment also accuses Clark  of soliciting a U.S. attorney general and deputy attorney general in December 2020 to make false statements about significant concerns about the election’s results after Georgia election officials had certified Biden’s victory.

This story was provided by WABE content partner Georgia Recorder.