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Judge dismisses some charges against Trump in the Georgia 2020 election interference case

ATLANTA — The judge overseeing the Georgia 2020 election interference case on Wednesday dismissed some of the charges against former President Donald Trump and others, but the rest of the sweeping racketeering indictment remains intact.

ATLANTA — The judge in charge of the Georgia 2020 election interference case dismissed some of the charges against former President Donald Trump and others on Wednesday, while keeping the rest of the extensive racketeering indictment intact.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee eliminated six counts from the indictment, including three against Trump, the expected 2024 Republican presidential nominee. However, the judge retained other counts, including 10 against Trump, and indicated that prosecutors could request a new indictment to try to reinstate the dismissed ones.

The decision is a setback for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is already facing attempts to remove her from the prosecution due to her romantic relationship with a colleague. This is the first time charges in any of Trump’s four criminal cases have been dismissed, with the judge stating that prosecutors did not provide enough detail about the alleged crime.

The comprehensive indictment accuses Trump and more than a dozen other defendants of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. The case uses a law typically associated with mobsters to charge the former president, lawyers, and other aides with a “criminal enterprise” to keep him in power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.

Defense lawyers welcomed the ruling, following challenges to the indictment from Trump, former New York mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and attorneys John Eastman, Ray Smith, and Robert Cheeley. All of them have pleaded not guilty.

“The ruling upholds the law as the prosecution failed to make specific allegations of any alleged wrongdoing on those counts,” said Trump attorney Steve Sadow. “The entire prosecution of President Trump is political, constitutes election interference, and should be dismissed.”

Willis’ spokesperson Jeff DiSantis declined to comment other than saying prosecutors were reviewing the ruling.

The six challenged counts accuse the defendants of persuading public officers to violate their oaths. One count stems from a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, on Jan. 2, 2021, in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes.”

Another of the dismissed counts accuses Trump of persuading then-Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to violate his oath of office by calling a special session of the legislature to unlawfully appoint presidential electors.

McAfee stated that the counts did not provide enough detail regarding the nature of the violations.

“The lack of detail concerning an essential legal element is, in the undersigned’s opinion, fatal,” stated McAfee. “They do not give the Defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently.”

Meadows is now only facing a RICO charge following McAfee’s order. Jim Durham, a lawyer for Meadows, declined to comment. The order dismissed three out of 13 counts against Giuliani.

Giuliani’s lawyer Allyn Stockton said there wasn't enough detail to notify the defendants about what to defend against. She added that the ruling removes nearly 25% of the charges against her client.

McAfee mentioned that prosecutors could ask for a new indictment to add to the six dismissed counts. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, the judge gave the state six months to present the case again to a grand jury. Prosecutors could also request permission to appeal the ruling. The case has not yet been scheduled for trial.

The ruling comes as McAfee considers a bid to have Willis disqualified from the case due to her romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, which defense attorneys say is a conflict of interest. McAfee is expected to rule on the disqualification bid by the end of this week, which would raise questions about the most extensive of the four criminal cases against Trump.

Willis, who stated that their relationship ended months ago, has said there is no conflict of interest and no reason to remove her from the case.

The Georgia indictment, nearly 100 pages long, lists dozens of alleged acts by Trump or his allies to reverse his defeat. These include harassing an election worker, making false claims of fraud, and trying to convince Georgia lawmakers to ignore the voters' will and appoint a new set of Electoral College electors favorable to Trump.

Out of the 19 people originally charged, four have confessed after making deals with prosecutors. They include prominent Trump allies and lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro.

The Georgia case covers some of the same ground as the federal case in Washington brought by special counsel Jack Smith, charging Trump with conspiring to overturn his election loss in an attempt to stay in power. Trump faces separate charges by Smith for hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them.

Trump is set to go to trial later this month in the New York case, which accuses him of falsifying his company’s internal records to conceal the true nature of payments to a former lawyer who helped Trump hide negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign.

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