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Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro split from Donald Trump, others for Ga. election trial

Sidney Powell surrenders on August 23 to charges in Georgia that she attempted to overturn the results of the state's 2020 presidential election. Photo courtesy of Fulton County Sheriff's Office/UPI
Sidney Powell surrenders on August 23 to charges in Georgia that she attempted to overturn the results of the state's 2020 presidential election. Photo courtesy of Fulton County Sheriff's Office/UPI

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A Georgia judge ruled Wednesday that former Donald Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell will be tried together starting Oct. 23 for their roles in a scheme to subvert the results of the state's 2020 presidential election.

The two had requested a speedy trial and for their cases to be severed from Trump, each other and the remaining 16 co-defendants in the case. Their attorneys argue that trying them with the other defendants would prejudice the jury against them.

But Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee denied the request for severance at the hearing in Atlanta.

"Based on what's been presented today, I am not finding the severance for Mr. Chesebro or Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case," he said.

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Prosecutors, who had proposed trying all 19 defendants together on Oct. 23, told the judge a trial will take about four months -- together or separately.

Kenneth Cheseboro surrenders on August 23 to charges in Georgia that he attempted to overturn the results of the state's 2020 presidential election. Photo courtesy of Fulton County Sheriff's Office/UPI
Kenneth Cheseboro surrenders on August 23 to charges in Georgia that he attempted to overturn the results of the state's 2020 presidential election. Photo courtesy of Fulton County Sheriff's Office/UPI

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade said the prosecution will call more than 150 witnesses -- not including any defendants who may elect to testify.

"We contend that we must prove the entire conspiracy against each and every one charged," Wade told the judge. "The court, in the interest of judicial economy, would have to make the decision as to whether the court wants to try the same case 19 times or two."

McAfee asked if the prosecution would call the same number of witnesses and present the same exhibits in a separate trial for Chesebro and Powell.

Wade responded, "Absolutely."

Will Wooten, Fulton County deputy district attorney, said that if Chesebro, Powell or any other defendant had their trial severed, the result would be another estimated four-month trial.

"There have been arguments that severing these defendants out would be more economical. I'm not sure how that works," Wooten said. "One four-month trial is shorter than multiple four-month trials. Public policy strongly disfavors severance in complex conspiracy cases for several reasons. One is judicial economy."

Scott Grubman, lead counsel for Chesebro, argued that the 98-page indictment contains up to five separate conspiracies and Chesebro was involved in only one: pushing the legal theory that spawned the so-called "fake electors" scheme.

Grubman described Chesebro's role as sending "approximately 18 emails, all in his role as attorney for the Trump campaign."

Attorney Manubir Arora downplayed Chesebro's role further, saying he was involved in the "intellectual part of this case."

"We wrote something talking about the [Electoral Count Act] and how the 12th Amendment works," he said. "And then specifically we sent two emails to the head of the Republican Party as alleged. That's it."

Brian Rafferty, lead counsel for Powell, similarly downplayed his client's role in the fake elector scheme. He argued that evidence will show she was not the "driving force" in the scheme to illegally access voting machines in Coffee County, Ga.

"Ms. Powell had nothing to do with most of it," Rafferty said. "Frankly, your honor, the way the government has characterized that, the evidence is going to show they're incorrect. There were other attorneys in this case that were actually the driving force in that."

Wooten disputed the idea that a defendant in a conspiracy case being unaware of, or not having contact with other defendants is not a valid defense or valid grounds for severance.

"Evidence against one is evidence against all," he said. "Anytime a person enters into a conspiracy, they are liable for all of the acts -- all of their co-conspirators. And that's it."