Two of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants have asked for their cases to be formally separated from the mammoth indictment in Georgia over attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, reflecting the ongoing complexity of trying 19 people all at once.
In separate motions filed Wednesday, the attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro — both of whom were charged with racketeering alongside the former president — asked for their cases to be severed from the other defendants.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she intends to hold one large trial as soon as October. But her office is already in fierce negotiations with the squadron of co-defendants after Chesebro and Powell both demanded a speedy trial, which could pose a major headache for prosecutors.
In the motion Wednesday, Powell’s lawyers rejected prosecutors’ claims in the indictment that she was instrumental in Trump’s effort to remain in power and find additional votes in Georgia. They argued she had “no substantive connection with any other defendant” in the case and was not working for Trump or his campaign.
“Ms. Powell can receive a fair trial only if she is tried alone,” her attorneys wrote in the motion. “The prejudice that would inure to her from a lengthy trial with any of those she was not involved and about the vast number of events she had no knowledge of or connection with would deny her Due Process.”
Kenneth Chesebro, left, and Sidney Powell have both asked for their cases to be severed from the 17 other co-defendants in the Georgia indictment.
Chesebro’s attorneys took a different tack, saying the sheer number of charges and co-defendants will only confuse a jury and impact his ability to be given a fair trial. Prosecutors leveled 41 different counts in the indictment, with Chesebro linked with 7 of those.
“Severance of those [additional] 34 counts is necessary to promote a fair determination of Mr. Chesebro’s guilt or innocence as to each of the 7 counts for which he is actually charged,” his lawyers argued. “If the jury were to be advised of these unrelated counts at Mr. Chesebro’s trial, this would create confusion of the issues, spillover, and the admission of unduly prejudicial evidence.”
A judge ordered Chesebro’s trial to begin Oct. 23, but has not yet ruled on Powell’s request. Willis has said that any defendants who ask for a speedy trial should be tried together.
“All Defendants should be tried together, but at an absolute minimum, the Court should set Defendant Powell’s trial and that of any other defendant who may file a speedy trial demand on the same date as Defendant Chesebro’s,” she said in a court filing.
Trump is set to be arraigned on Sept. 6. His attorneys have filed a motion opposing Willis’ effort to see all 19 co-defendants tried together and have indicated the former president will move to have his case severed from the others as well.