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US: Slight relief for Trump as judge dismisses some charges in Georgia election interference case

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ordered that six counts in the indictment, including three against Trump, must be dismissed as prosecutors failed to provide enough detail. The case accuses Trump and 18 others of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Georgia Published on: March 14, 2024 6:41 IST
US. Donald Trump, election interference case
Image Source : REUTERS Former US President Donald Trump

Atlanta: Former US President Donald Trump, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination for the third consecutive year, received a slight relief on Wednesday when the judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case dismissed some of the charges against him, even as many other counts of the indictment remain. The six charges in question have to do with soliciting elected officials to violate their oaths of office.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee wrote in an order that six of the counts in the indictment must be quashed, including three against Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee. However, the order leaves intact other charges, and the judge wrote that prosecutors could seek a new indictment on the charges he dismissed. The judge said prosecutors failed to provide enough detail about the alleged crimes.

The ruling is a blow for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who initiated the case against Trump and whose case has already been on shaky ground with an effort to have her removed from the prosecution over her romantic relationship with a colleague. It's the first time charges in any of Trump's four criminal cases have been dismissed. Two of the charges pertain to Trump's call to  Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, on Jan 2, 2021.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said during that call. The judge left 35 other criminal counts intact, including 10 against the former President. The central racketeering charge against Trump and his remaining 14 co-defendants remains in place.

The case accuses Trump and 18 others of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state to Democrat Joe Biden. The nearly 100-page indictment details dozens of acts by Trump or his allies to undo his defeat, including harassing an election worker who faced false claims of fraud and attempting to persuade Georgia lawmakers to ignore the will of voters and appoint a new slate of electoral college electors favourable to Trump.

Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges that they formed a criminal conspiracy to seek to overturn Trump's loss to Biden in Georgia in the 2020 election. Steve Sadow, Trump's lead lawyer in the Georgia case, said prosecutors "failed to make specific allegations of any alleged wrongdoing" in the counts that were dismissed.

Trump becomes the 2024 GOP presidential nominee

Former US President Donald Trump will engage in a historic rematch with Democratic rival Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential elections as he secured enough delegates to become the GOP nominee with wins in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state. Trump surpassed the 1,215-delegate threshold needed to become the presumptive Republican nominee for the third consecutive time.

The former President will formally accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention in July, by which point he could be in the remarkable position of being both a presidential candidate and convicted felon. Notably, Trump has been indicted in four separate criminal investigations and his first trial, which centers on payments made to a porn actress, is set to begin March 25 in New York City.

Earlier, Biden had secured the Democratic presidential nomination after securing the required 1,968 delegates. With Trump's win, Biden and Trump have kicked off the first US presidential election rematch in nearly 70 years. Biden, 81, issued a statement after he sealed the Democratic nomination, taking aim at what he called Trump's "campaign of resentment, revenge, and retribution that threatens the very idea of America."

In a video posted on social media, Trump said there was no time to celebrate, and instead put the focus on beating Biden, whom he called the "worst" president in US history. "We're going to drill, baby, drill. We're going to close our borders. We're going to do things like nobody has ever seen before. And we're going to make our nation's economy be the best ever in the world," said Trump.

Trump's myriad criminal charges - he faces 91 felony counts across four separate indictments - could harm his standing among the suburban, well-educated voters whose support he has historically struggled to garner. He is scheduled to become the first former American president to go on trial in a criminal case on March 25 in New York.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | US: Biden vs Trump again in November as ex-President secures enough delegates for presidential nomination

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