Trump will not go to trial in October with former lawyers, Fulton County judge says

Chesebro and Powell were the only two of the 19 defendants to request a speedy trial.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Indictment defendants and former Trump team attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell asked for a speedy trial under Georgia law, and they got it.

The two will be tried in Fulton County court beginning on Oct. 23, but the former president won’t be tried alongside them.

Chesebro and Powell were the only two of the 19 defendants to request a speedy trial. Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case, decided on Thursday that Trump and his other 16 co-defendants will be tried together at a later date that has yet to be determined.

“Our client is entitled to a speedy trial, our client’s going to get a speedy trial, and we’re not going to be the ones to try to delay that,” said Chesebro’s attorney Scott Grubman outside court. “Let’s do it. Oct. 23 can’t come fast enough.”

Also on Thursday, attorneys for Chesebro and Powell requested the opportunity to interview the grand jurors who handed up the historic indictment outside of court.

They said they wanted to know if any of them had been pressured by the prosecutor’s office to bring the charges, and if they had been read the entire indictment draft or merely a summary. Grubman said it was odd that the over 90-page indictment was deliberated on by the grand jury in a matter of hours.

“I’m not saying this is true, but what if a grand juror felt that they were bullied by the state into prosecuting,” he asked Judge McAfee. “The prosecution is trying to send my client to prison. So the idea that I might want to same access to information that the state of Georgia has, should not be that controversial.”

Prosecutors, for their part, claimed the defense attorneys had no right to question grand jurors after their decision had been made. They also argued it could pose safety concerns for the jurors who have already faced threats of doxing and violence.

“There is no authority that allows what they’re asking the court to allow them to do,” said Fulton County Executive Prosecutor Daysha Young. “Is it relevant? Is it admissible – the questions they want to ask these jurors? Based on the case law, it is not, because what they’re asking is, we want you to change your mind; we want you to answer a question in a way that is going to impeach your findings.”

McAfee ultimately granted the defense the ability to interview the grand jurors in recorded interviews that won’t be used at trial. He said the grand jurors had to be willing to sit for the interviews, however.

“I certainly haven’t found anything in Georgia law that says no one’s allowed to talk to the grand jurors,” McAfee said bluntly before making the decision.

Grand juries are guaranteed secrecy under federal law, but not necessarily under all state laws.

Now comes the difficult process of selecting an impartial jury for Chesebro and Powell’s trial. It certainly won’t be an easy task. Consider that the YSL gang trial — also a RICO case — has been in the jury selection process for over eight months.

McAfee noted that he wants a jury seated by Nov. 3, just two weeks after the trial’s start.

McAfee said he would follow a federal court procedure of using a timer clock during prospective jury questioning to keep things on track for that date.