Former Trump Campaign Lawyer Pleads Not Guilty in Georgia Racketeering Case
In a significant development in the ongoing legal battles surrounding the 2020 presidential election, Ray Smith, a former lawyer for the Trump campaign, became the first of 19 defendants to enter a not guilty plea to charges in Fulton County, Georgia. The charges accuse the group of plotting to undermine and overturn the state's election results.
Smith's attorney filed a waiver of arraignment on Monday, indicating that Smith would not appear as scheduled on September 6. Instead, Smith entered not guilty pleas to each of the 12 charges he faces. The indictment, which was issued on August 15, alleges that Smith and his co-defendants violated Georgia's racketeering law through a scheme to overturn the election results after President Joe Biden's victory in the state.
According to the indictment, Smith unlawfully requested state lawmakers to appoint a different set of electors from Georgia who would cast their votes for Trump. Additionally, Smith is accused of conspiring with others to falsify a document that purported to be the certificate of the state's 2020 presidential electors' votes.
Smith surrendered to the Fulton County jail on August 23 and was subsequently released on a $50,000 bond. It remains unclear if any other defendants will follow Smith's lead and waive their arraignments. The remaining 18 co-defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on September 6, with former President Donald Trump set to be the first arraigned at 9:30 a.m.
There is uncertainty surrounding Trump's attendance at the arraignment, as his attorney did not disclose his intentions. The court documents indicate that if Trump does not waive his appearance, he will face 13 felony charges and is expected to enter a not guilty plea. Following Trump's arraignment, his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is scheduled to go through the same process at 9:45 a.m. The arraignments of the co-defendants will continue throughout the day in 15-minute intervals, with a one-hour lunch break at noon.
This comes after Trump's surrender to Fulton County authorities on August 24, a move that attracted global attention and resulted in his booking photo being widely circulated. The arraignment is part of a larger racketeering case in which a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and the other 18 defendants on 41 counts related to participating in a criminal enterprise aimed at overturning the 2020 electoral loss in Georgia.
It remains unclear if Trump will choose to attend the arraignment or seek a waiver of his appearance. His attorneys have not commented on the matter. Notably, this arraignment was scheduled while Trump's legal team was in court in Washington, D.C., for a hearing in another criminal case. In that case, Trump is facing four felonies in connection with his alleged efforts to overturn the national election results.
Furthermore, Trump is also facing trials in 2024, with a New York State case involving 34 felony counts of falsification of business records scheduled for trial in March, followed by a federal case in which he faces 40 felony counts related to the "willful retention" of classified information after leaving the White House.
Throughout all of these legal proceedings, Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing and accused the prosecutors of pursuing him for political gain. The arraignment on September 6 will mark a pivotal moment in the legal battle surrounding the 2020 election and will set the stage for subsequent trials and legal proceedings.
themes: Joe Biden Donald Trump Georgia Washington New York (state)