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Judge Upholds Indictment in Georgia Election Case

The judge overseeing the Georgia election-interference case against Donald Trump and others rejected on Thursday arguments by the former president that the indictment seeks to criminalize political speech protected by the First Amendment, The Associated Press reports. Trump’s attorneys argued that all the charges against him involved political speech that is protected, even if the speech ends up being false. But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee rejected Trump's argument that the indictment criminalizes protected political speech. The charges suggest willful and knowing actions to harm the government, McAfee wrote, not just false statements. “Even core political speech addressing matters of public concern is not impenetrable from prosecution if allegedly used to further criminal activity." But McAfee did leave open the possibility that Trump and others could raise similar arguments “at the appropriate time after the establishment of a factual record.”

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney in Georgia, said in an email that Trump and the other defendants “respectfully disagree with Judge McAfee’s order and will continue to evaluate their options regarding the First Amendment challenges.” He called it significant that McAfee made it clear they could raise their challenges again later. Though Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has requested that the trial begin in August, no trial date has been set for the sprawling Georgia case, one of four criminal cases pending against Trump as he seeks to return to the White House. Four people have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors. Trump and the others who remain have pleaded not guilty. The indictment, issued in August by a Fulton County grand jury, accused Trump and 18 others of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.


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