Former President Donald Trump’s attorney has indicated Trump may seek to have the racketeering and conspiracy charges filed against him in Georgia moved to federal court.
“President Trump hereby notifies the Court that he may seek removal of his prosecution to federal court,” the terse notice from attorney Steven Sadow read.
The notice said that Trump had 30 days from the date of his arraignment to file.
BREAKING: Former President Donald Trump has just informed the judge in the Georgia election interference case that he might attempt to transfer the state case to federal court, potentially using federal official immunity protections to have the charges dropped. pic.twitter.com/qsPUKvNY2H
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) September 7, 2023
In looking at possible motives for moving to federal court, CNN suggested that such a move could broaden the possibility of getting the charges dropped, should Trump be able to successfully argue that his challenge to the results of the 2020 presidential election was part of his duty as president.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that moving to federal court would also change the dynamics of a jury pool.
The newspaper noted that if the trial stays in Fulton County, jurors will come from a county in which Trump won less than 27 percent of the vote in the 2020 election.
In federal court, Trump could have two options. If jurors come from a 10-county district around Atlanta, the area would be one where Trump won 33 percent of the vote. Should the entire federal judicial district — the Northern District of Georgia — be used as a jury pool, it would encompass a 46-county slice of Georgia in which Trump won 46 percent of the vote, the newspaper reported.
Reuters noted that Trump’s potential effort to move his case to federal court could stymie efforts by the prosecution to try all 19 defendants in the case together next month.
Some of Trump’s co-defendants have already sought to have their cases transferred to federal court, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Wednesday that he will begin the trial of two of Trump’s co-defendants on Oct. 23, but was cautious about whether all of them could be tried at that point, according to Politico.
“It just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in forty-something days,” he said, while agreeing to hold a trial then for attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro.
During the hearing, prosecutors estimated the case would take four months and involve calling 150 witnesses.
McAfee said the federal appeals court that could end up hearing any ruling about moving the case to federal court is unlikely to move quickly.
“It could potentially even be a six-month turnaround just for the 11th Circuit to come up with a decision,” said McAfee, naming the federal court that would hear the case.
“Where does that leave us in the middle of a jury trial?” he said.
Trump is currently facing two federal trials — one on charges of mishandling classified documents and one based on his challenge to the results of the 2020 election.
He is also facing a trial in New York state on charges of falsifying business records in connection with payments during the 2016 presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt his intentions about testifying at his trials, according to Newsweek.
“I look forward to testifying. At trial, I’ll testify,” Trump said.