Trump Lawyers Argue in Georgia 2020 Election Prosecution

3:01 PM ET, December 1, 2023

Attorneys for bogus voters in Georgia argue legal theories that have previously collapsed in federal court

From CNN’s Marshall Cohen

Legal theories advanced Friday by lawyers for alleged voter fraud in a Georgia election fraud case fell flat when the same arguments were presented in federal court earlier this year.

Attorneys for 2020 voter fraud and former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, David Shaffer, said at a hearing Friday that the indictment should be dismissed because there was nothing illegal about the voter conspiracy.

Attorneys for the fraudulent voters made many of the same arguments at a federal court hearing in September when they tried to transfer their Fulton County cases to the federal system.

But their theories didn’t carry the day — the federal judge overseeing the proceedings didn’t accept any of their theories and ruled that criminal cases should remain in state court.

On Friday, for example, Shafer attorney Holly Pearson said there were no legally recognized voters by the “safe harbor date,” the date set by federal law that states must certify their presidential results. In 2020, Georgia state officials certified Joe Biden’s victory with a “safe harbor date.”

But Pearson argued that there were no legal voters at the time because of Trump’s lawsuit challenging the results. With the legal challenge pending, he said, both Biden and Trump’s voters are “casual” voters who should vote conditional and wait to see if the election results are overturned in the Trump case.

“They’re all randomly selected if they don’t meet the safe harbor date,” Pearson said.

He made the same arguments at a federal hearing in September, while pushing to transfer the case to federal court. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones disagreed with his theory.

Pearson is making these arguments again because the case is in state court, where Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee oversees the case and can dismiss the charges if the indictment does not comply with state law.

“The elephant in the room is that none of them are running for president,” Fulton County Prosecutor Will Wooten said at Friday’s hearing. “None of them are presidential candidates. As far as the 2020 election is concerned, they have never been presidential candidates. So those arguments are not applicable.”

He added: “Defendant’s safe harbor doctrine is unconstitutional.”

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