ATLANTA — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday requested an Aug. 5 start date for the trial of former President Donald Trump and his allied co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case.
“This proposed trial date balances potential delays from Defendant Trump’s other criminal trials…and the other Defendants’ constitutional speedy trial rights,” Willis said in a court filing.
Trump’s lawyers said they opposed the proposed start date.
Trump attorneys Steven Sadow and Jennifer Little wrote in their court filing that the former president “requests the opportunity to present oral argument in opposition to the motion at a hearing to be held at a time convenient to the Court.”
The Fulton County District Attorney’s office declined to comment.
Trump has repeatedly pushed to have his various trial dates postponed until after the 2024 election.
In explaining her rationale for starting the trial in early August, Willis pointed to Trump’s federal election interference trial in Washington, D.C., that’s slated to begin in March and his classified documents trial in Florida that’s expected to get underway in May. Starting the Georgia trial in August, she said, would mean the case is “unlikely to be subject to delay or interference from these other trials.”
She added that starting in August would also “show deference for each Defendant’s constitutional speedy trial rights” by holding the trial within one year of the indictments, which were released on Aug. 14, 2023.
In a statement Friday, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung argued that the proposed Aug. 5 start date request was “proof” that “Biden knows he can’t beat President Trump.”
“Radical Democrat Fani Willis has again proven that her case is purely political, designed to interfere with President Trump’s re-election by demanding a trial date in the most vital time in President Trump’s winning campaign,” Cheung said.
In her filing, Willis also asked that the judge, Scott McAfee, set the deadline for negotiated guilty pleas for June 21. She said her office will consider guilty pleas for the remaining defendants until that date. Willis further asked that McAfee not consider any motions to sever defendants until after the guilty plea deadline.
Nineteen defendants were charged in August. Four have pleaded guilty. Trump and the others have pleaded not guilty.
Willis argued that the remaining defendants should be tried together, citing other organized crime trials Fulton County prosecuted with multiple defendants. “The State clearly retains the logistical and prosecutorial capabilities to try all of the remaining Defendants together,” she said in the filing.
The defendants have been charged with violating Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) act. The indictments stemmed from an investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Charlie Gile and Blayne Alexander reported from Atlanta, Megan Lebowitz from Washington.