Trump And Chesebro Engage In Early Jockeying Over Georgia Trial Date

The move severs Chesebro's case from that of Trump.
Credit: TPM/Illustrations
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Attorney Ken Chesebro prevailed on Thursday in a request to have his trial on racketeering charges in Georgia start as early as possible.

Score one for the cheese – or perhaps be careful what you wish for.

The flurry of filings began Wednesday with Chesebro invoking Georgia’s speedy trial law to rush his case to trial in November 2023 and perhaps try to wrong-foot Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis by catching her unprepared.

Thursday morning, Willis called Chesebro’s bluff, eagerly supporting his request for a early trial and urging an even earlier start: late October 2023.

Wasting no time, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set a date for Chesebro’s trial to begin on Oct. 23, while specifying that the schedule applied to no other defendant in the case.

It’s not clear if Chesebro got what he bargained for, but his move may have achieved another aim: cleaving his trial off from Trump’s without having to file himself to sever it. In contrast to Chesebro, Trump’s new attorney (as of today) told the court Thursday that Trump did not want to rush to trial like Chesebro and would be asking the court to split his case from Chesebro’s. Trump – a consummate delayer in legal matters – also said that he would move to sever his case from any other defendant in the matter who moved for a fast trial.

The flurry of moves signals an early split between Trump and at least some of his 18 co-defendants in the Georgia racketeering case.

Chesebro, who developed the legal theory underpinning the Trump campaign’s fake electors strategy, faces seven felony counts in the case.

Now, the October trial date sets Chesebro apart from the other 18 defendants in the case. Per the court order, he’ll be prosecuted by Willis’ office separately, with an arraignment on Sept. 6, and the discovery phase completed by Sept. 20.

It sets up the criminal trial of one of the least known but arguably most critical attorneys to Trump’s effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election potentially months ahead of any other defendant in the case.

Like other Trump attorneys involved in helping the former President try to reverse his 2020 defeat, Chesebro has argued that he was simply helping a client litigate a live dispute. The presence of a conflict over the outcome of the election, Chesebro told TPM last year in his only on-record interview about his election work to date, meant that he had an obligation to identify creative legal options which Trump could then pursue.

Chesebro expanded on this in the interview to TPM last year as typical legal work.

“It should be kept in mind that this is what lawyers do,” Chesebro told TPM. “It is the duty of any attorney to leave no stone unturned in examining the legal options that exist in a particular situation.”

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