Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has filed a request for a joint trial for former President Donald Trump and all of his co-defendants in the 2020 election interference case. The request, made public on Wednesday, seeks to keep all defendants together until they present their basis for severance. Willis has consistently maintained her stance on trying the 19 defendants together since announcing racketeering charges against them. The charges allege that Trump and his allies interfered in Georgia’s 2020 election results to maintain his presidency, despite losing the state to Joe Biden.
The defendants in the case face a combined 41 charges under the state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. While all defendants have pleaded not guilty, two Trump-aligned attorneys, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, have invoked their right to a speedy trial, allowing them to be tried this fall. Willis has urged the court to expedite the timeline for all other defendants, but Judge Scott McAfee expressed skepticism about the proposal during a recent hearing.
In response to the request, Trump’s legal team and several other defendants have opposed Willis’s stance, citing unpreparedness for a trial in October. Willis, however, emphasized that the defendants still retain their right to demand a speedy trial. Prosecutors argue that holding multiple high-profile trials simultaneously would pose security issues and burden witnesses and victims who would be forced to testify multiple times on the same set of facts.
If the severance requests are granted, Willis warns of a potential “cascade” of defendants demanding a speedy trial. The logistics of hosting a trial with 19 defendants, their attorneys, the prosecution team, a jury, and a judge, along with security measures for Trump, reporters, and the public, could present challenges. Nonetheless, Fulton County prosecutors assert that a trial of this magnitude would be feasible within the local courthouse, citing their capability to handle large and complex cases.
The court is expected to rule on the severance requests following the final bid presented by prosecutors.