All 19 defendants in Georgia election interference case plead not guilty



CNN

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and the rest of the defendants in an election interference case in Fulton County, Georgia, have pleaded not guilty and dismissed their cases, new court filings show.

Misty Hampton, the last of 19 defendants to be transferred in the case of District Attorney Fannie Willis, who faces charges related to Coffee County voting violations, entered her plea Tuesday afternoon. Other defendants have been filing their pleas for the past few days.

Arraignments are scheduled for Wednesday in Atlanta. Georgia law allows criminal defendants to avoid appearing in person and formally enter a plea of ​​not guilty through documents filed with the court.

Meadows is charged with two state felonies: violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering RICO statute and soliciting a public official to violate their oath. The allegations largely revolve around an infamous phone call in January 2021 where Trump and Meadows pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to “find” enough votes to flip the election results in favor of then-President Donald Trump.

Meadows is trying to move his case out of state court and into federal court, where he could have the charges dismissed by invoking immunity that protects many federal workers from lawsuits.

At a high-profile hearing in August, Meadows testified under oath for more than three hours and said the alleged activities detailed in the Georgia indictment were related to his formal government duties as Trump’s chief of staff. The federal judge who will decide whether to move the case has yet to issue a ruling.

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Hampton is charged with seven counts of participating in a conspiracy to allow Trump supporters to illegally access voter data and vote counting equipment at the Coffee County Elections Office. Hampton also faces the fraud charge at the center of Willis’ case.

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who is also seeking to move his case to federal court, has pleaded not guilty in court filings. Georgia law allows criminal defendants to avoid appearing in person and formally enter a plea of ​​not guilty through documents filed with the court.

Clark was charged with two counts in the Georgia case. He served as a senior Trump appointee at the Justice Department and tried to use his powers as a federal official to overturn the 2020 election. He drafted a letter, which was ultimately never sent, promoting false claims of voting irregularities and urging Georgia lawmakers to consider expelling Biden’s legal voters.

Clark urged Trump to make him acting attorney general so he could send the letter and have the Justice Department intervene in the Georgia election. Trump decided not to put Clark in charge after other senior Justice Department officials threatened to resign.

Pro-Trump Attorney John Eastman, Georgia State Sen. Shawn Still, former Coffee County GOP Chairwoman Kathy Latham and former Georgia GOP Chairwoman David Shaffer also pleaded not guilty and dismissed formal hearings in court filings Tuesday.

Eastman was charged with nine counts, including fraud. He encouraged then-Vice President Mike Pence to lay out a six-step plan to overturn Joe Biden’s victory when he presided over Electoral College certification on January 6, 2021. And he urged Georgia state lawmakers to appoint fake GOP electors instead of a legitimate slate. Democratic voters.

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He was charged with seven more state felonies and was one of 16 Republicans who served as “fake voters” in Georgia and signed documents claiming Trump had won the Peach State. This is part of the Trump campaign’s plan to subvert the Electoral College process and nullify Joe Biden’s victory.

Latham was charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to illegally access voter data and vote counting equipment in Coffee County, in addition to the fraud charge central to Willis’ case. Latham signed on as Trump’s surrogate in Georgia.

Shaffer was charged with eight state felonies. Fulton County prosecutors accused him of playing a key role in orchestrating a Trump campaign of fake voters in Georgia as part of an effort to subvert the Electoral College. He served as a bogus voter and gathered 15 other bogus voters at the Georgia State Capitol in December 2020, where they signed affidavits falsely claiming that Trump had won the state over Biden.

Shaffer had previously said that the fake voter scheme came at the direction of Trump and the Trump campaign.

Shaffer and Latham are seeking to transfer their cases from state court to federal court.

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the Georgia election tampering case, scheduled a hearing Wednesday to answer questions about trial planning and breaking the case.

In the order issued Tuesday, McAfee said the hearing will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET to deal with important scheduling matters. This is McAfee’s first hearing in the case, and the proceedings are expected to be televised.

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The judge said prosecutors must provide a “good faith estimate” of how long it would take to conduct a joint trial for all 19 defendants, and how long it would take if the case were split into subsets of defendants.

Kenneth Chesbro’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 23, and Willis wants to put the case together and hold a grand jury that day. Trump opposes that expedited timeline, and several defendants want the case dismissed.

This story has been updated with additional updates.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect when the not guilty pleas were filed. It has been updated with additional improvements and background information.

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