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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Alamy Stock Photo Former US president Donald Trump

Donald Trump pleads not guilty in Georgia election conspiracy case

The former US president is currently facing 13 felony counts including racketeering.

FORMER US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he led a criminal conspiracy to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state of Georgia.

The Republican presidential frontrunner, who faces 13 felony counts including racketeering, entered his plea in a court filing waiving his right to appear at an arraignment scheduled for Wednesday next week.

That means he will not have to show up for an arraignment hearing that Fulton County Superior Court judge Scott McAfee had set for next week.

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 former president has been forced amid tight security into a courtroom and entered “not guilty” pleas before crowds of spectators.

Trump and 18 others were charged earlier this month in a 41-count indictment that outlines an alleged scheme to subvert the will of Georgia voters who had chosen Democrat Joe Biden over the Republican incumbent in the presidential election.

Several other people charged in the indictment had already waived arraignment in filings with the court, saving them a trip to the courthouse in downtown Atlanta.

Trump previously travelled to Georgia on 24 August to turn himself in at the Fulton County Jail, where he became the first former president to have a mugshot taken.

The case, filed under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, is sprawling, and the logistics of bringing it to trial are likely to be complicated.

Legal manoeuvring by several of those charged has already begun.

At least two defendants have filed demands for a speedy trial and have asked to be tried separately from others in the case.

The judge has set an 23 October trial date for one of them, Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who worked on the co-ordination and execution of a plan to have 16 Georgia Republicans sign a certificate falsely stating that Trump won the state and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has said she wants all of the defendants tried together, and she asked the judge to set an 23 October trial date for everyone.

Trump’s lawyer Steve Sadow has said in court filings that he objects to that date and plans to file a motion to separate Trump’s case from that of anyone who files a speedy trial demand.

Some of the others charged are trying to move their cases to federal court.

A judge on Monday heard arguments on such a request by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, but the judge did not immediately rule.

Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, has criticised the cases against him as part of a politically motivated attempt to keep him from winning back the White House.

With reporting from AFP and Press Association 

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