Mark Meadows, all remaining defendants plead not guilty in Georgia election case

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(ATLANTA) — All 19 defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them in the Georgia election interference case and waived their in-person arraignment, which was set for Wednesday, according to court filings.

Former Trump Chief of Staff Meadows, ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, attorney John Eastman, former Coffee County elections director Misty Hampton, former Coffee County GOP chair Cathleen Latham, current Georgia state Sen. Shawn Still and former Georgia GOP chair David Shafer all filed documents Tuesday pleading not guilty.

Former President Donald Trump was one of 12 defendants to enter not guilty pleas last week.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee last week set the date of Sept. 6 for all 19 defendants to be arraigned on charges and enter their pleas in the case, but those court appearances are now unnecessary.

On Tuesday, McAfee scheduled a hearing on Wednesday afternoon to consider the issue of severing some of the defendants from the main case, according to a court order.

McAfee, in the order, said he intends to ask the state at the hearing for a “good-faith estimate” of the time it reasonably anticipates it will need to present its case during a joint trial of all 19 defendants, and “alternatively any divisions thereof.”

The order also said McAfee would ask about the number of witnesses the state would likely call, and the number of exhibits likely to be introduced.

Four defendants — Trump and attorneys Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Ray Smith III — have filed motions seeking to sever their cases.

The order for Wednesday, however, only names Powell and Chesebro — the two defendants who have filed motions seeking a speedy trial.

Chesebro, meanwhile, filed a motion Tuesday seeking to dismiss the charges against him, arguing the state prosecutors do not have the authority to charge him with what he described as alleged violations of federal law.

Chesebro, who the indictment alleges conceived “multiple strategies for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” argued in his filing that the state of Georgia failed to adjudicate disputes regarding presidential electors by a set deadline, thus passing authority to Congress to resolve any remaining disputes.

“Thus, any action taken after December 8, 2020, if actually illegal, would be in violation of federal law and subject to the Supremacy Clause; wherefore, the State’s authority to bring any criminal charges would be null and void,” the filing said. Chesebro argued that only one of the overt acts alleged in the indictment — “his drafting of a legal memo” — occurred prior to the Dec. 8 deadline.

“Even if Mr. Chesebro agrees that drafting this memo was improper (and not subject to attorney-client privilege), this memo in no way touched or concerned Georgia or its rules, processes, or procedures it had implemented as a result of its congressional delegation via the [Electoral Count Act]. Therefore, the charges against Mr. Chesebro are wholly invalid as drafted in the indictment and should be struck accordingly,” the filing said.

Trump and the 18 others were charged last month in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia.

The former president says his actions were not illegal and that the investigation is politically motivated.

Clark, who is one of the five defendants seeking to move their case from state court into federal court, pushed back on the case in a lengthier filing by his attorney, calling it an “unconstitutional attempt, as to Mr. Clark, to penetrate into the sanctums of the superior federal government’s Justice Department, as well as of the Office of the President of the United States at the White House.”

“The Indictment is also an unconstitutional affront to the powers of the President, who is the sole head of the unitary executive branch,” Clark’s filing states.

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