OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump filed several motions earlier this week in Georgia seeking to dismiss charges filed against him there by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
In two legal motions, Trump — who is facing 13 counts, including an alleged violation of the state’s racketeering laws — used an argument made by legal representatives for attorney Kenneth Chesebro, NBC News reported.
Chesebro was the attorney behind the legal strategy used to create an alternative set of electors for the state, the outlet noted.
He “last week asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to dismiss the case against him, arguing that the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause barred states from prosecuting or otherwise regulating conduct ‘that was entirely within the ambit of federal authority,'” NBC News added.
Cornell Law School says the Supremacy Clause “establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions.”
“In adopting the motion to dismiss, Trump’s lawyers said Chesebro’s constitutional argument applied to the racketeering and other conspiracy-related charges against Trump. It was one of two Trump filings Monday that pertained to Chesebro’s earlier motions,” NBC noted.
“Attorneys for Trump took a similar approach Monday in adopting an earlier motion filed by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that would affect seven of the counts against Trump,” the outlet added.
Trump’s attempt to have the charges dismissed comes just a few days after his legal team advised the same court he may try to move his case to a federal court. His former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, attempted the same thing but has so far been unsuccessful.
Willis has said she wants to put all 19 co-defendants on trial next month. But Chesebro and another former Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, are already scheduled to stand trial beginning Oct. 23 because they requested a speedy process.
Meanwhile, Elie Honig, a legal analyst for CNN, acknowledged that there may be some merit to Trump’s motion asking that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself from his Jan. 6 case.
Speaking on CNN This Morning, Honig acknowledged that Trump’s request is an “extreme longshot” legally but added that, given Judge Chutkan’s prior comments, it’s “not an outrageous motion.”
The motion for recusal was brought about by remarks made by Judge Chutkan during the sentencing of those convicted of being part of the Capitol attack on January 6. Trump’s legal team claims that these comments show a possible bias against the former president.
Chutkan is quoted in the motion as saying, “The people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged,” in reference to a defendant in the Capitol riot case.
CNN host Poppy Harlow asked: “Trump’s lawyers argue statements like those and others mean she should not be able to hear this case against Trump. They add ‘only if this trial is administered by a judge who appears entirely impartial could the public ever accept the outcome as justice.’ I know recusals don’t happen often in situations like this. There are other statements that are interesting that she’s made. Things like when she said last year, “It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.” They, talking about, you would think Trump. What do you think?”
Honig responded: “So this is an extreme longshot, legally speaking. But you can see where Donald Trump’s coming from. It’s not an outrageous motion when you see various statements that Judge Charlton has made in the course of handling the prosecutions and sentencings of other January 6 rioters. She has said things that seem to pretty clearly suggest that she believed years ago Donald Trump should have been charged, should have been held accountable. And she was essentially making the point at these sentencings that, yes, you’re being prosecuted, rightly so, for storming the Capitol, but more responsible people are not.”
“The problem, however, with Donald Trump’s argument legally is that A: it’s really hard to get a judge to recuse himself or herself. And, B, you can’t base a recusal motion for the most part on something that a judge said during a court proceeding, basically because that’s a judge’s job,” he said.
“They have to take all the evidence in front of them, make decisions, make determinations sometimes about the relative culpability of other people. And so the Supreme Court has basically said if you’re trying to recuse the judge, you have to do it based on something outside of whatever she said in the scope of an actual case in court,” Honig continued.