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Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges filed against him by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Thursday while waiving his right to appear in person, reports noted.
Also, Trump’s legal team is seeking to split his case off from the other 18 defendants charged by Willis in connection to alleged racketeering and other activities related to the 2020 election.
“Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had set arraignment hearings on Sept. 6 for Trump and the 18 others charged in the case. Trump’s court filing entering a not guilty plea also waived arraignment, meaning he won’t have to show up for that,” the Associated Press reported.
The AP added:
The decision to skip an in-person appearance averts the dramatic arraignments that have accompanied the three other criminal cases Trump faces, in which the Republican former president has been forced amid tight security into a courtroom and entered “not guilty” pleas before crowds of spectators. Georgia courts have fairly permissive rules on news cameras in the courtroom, and this means Trump won’t have to enter a plea on television.
Last month, Trump and the others were hit with a 41-count indictment that detailed an alleged plot to undermine the will of Georgia voters who had selected Democrat Joe Biden as their choice over the Republican incumbent in the presidential election.
On Thursday, an attorney representing Trump asked McAfee to separate the former president’s his case from that of other defendants who have sought an expedited trial. The judge has already scheduled a trial date for one of these defendants on October 23rd.
Trump Attorney Steve Sadow argued in a court filing that providing the former president with less than two months to prepare a defense against a 98-page indictment would “violate President Trump’s federal and state constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law.”
Willis has said she wants to try all 19 defendants together. After one defendant filed for a speedy trial, she asked McAfee to sent a trial date of Oct. 23 for all defendants.
Meanwhile, McAfee has ruled that court proceedings in the cases will be televised and livestreamed.
All hearings and trials will be broadcast on the Fulton County Court YouTube channel, according to several media sources. McAfee also said pool coverage for broadcast news media will be allowed.
Trump “also faces two federal indictments — one related to the mishandling of classified information and another also related to 2020 election interference — but federal courtrooms generally do not allow cameras. The former president also faces charges in Manhattan related to hush money payments before the 2016 election,” The Hill reported.
“However, if any of the defendants get their case transferred to federal court, as former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is attempting to do, McAfee’s ruling would not apply. Meadows took the stand in Atlanta on Monday at a hearing where he argued his case should be moved. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones did not rule on the case at the hearing and will issue a ruling in writing at a later time,” the outlet added.
A growing number of state Republican lawmakers in Georgia are examining ways to stop Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from prosecuting Trump after she indicted him and 18 others over racketeering allegations linked to the 2020 election.
“Soon after the indictment against Trump and others was filed, discussions were underway to have Willis removed from office or face investigations and impeachment hearings over allegations of a partisan probe against the former president and frontrunner in the 2024 GOP primary,” Newsweek noted.
One move some GOP lawmakers are considering is using a law signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in May that would allow them to establish a new commission that would have the authority to remove local prosecutors who are deemed unable to fulfill their “constitutional and statutory duties.”