Former US President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants including his counsel Rudy Giuliani and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows would face the acid test on Monday as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will open the first details of her sprawling anti-racketeering case against them at a court hearing.
For the first time Americans will see substantive arguments made in court about the four criminal cases brought against Trump this year and the subject of hearing -- Meadows' motion to shift his case to a federal court in an effort to have it thrown out. But the Meadows move could end up acting as a mini-trial that determines the future of Fulton County's case against the former President, media reports said.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump telephoned in January 2021 to find 11,000 votes to reverse the victory Joe Biden, has been subpoenaed to testify, along with an investigator in his office and two other lawyers, who were present on the call. Meadows is a defendant in the case as he was also present on the call. Trump has said there was nothing wrong in his call as he had the right to question an election verdict.
Trump might try to delay the proceedings set to start at Fulton County at 1000 hours, in a last ditch effort to stand trial in the indictment as he faces criminal charges in four cases while running his third presidential campaign. His legal calendar looks rather murky and dark as trial dates fixed and proposed extend well beyond May 2024, CNN said in a report.
In the federal election subversion case, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan is expected to set a trial date on Monday as the former President attempts to delay proceedings until after the 2024 election. Special counsel Jack Smith's team has proposed a January 2024 trial including the jury selection as early as December.
Trump's legal team has rejected it on grounds that Smith's timeline conflicts with the other criminal and civil cases in which the former president is a defendant. Trump's team proposed an alternative date April 2026, well after the presidential election.
In the election subversion case in Fulton County, Georgia, two of the former President's allies -- Kenneth Chesebro, architect of the 'fake electors plot', and attorney Sidney Powell -- have requested a speedy trial, media reports said.
The judge on Chesebro's trial scheduled the hearing to begin October 23, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis attempted to apply the date to all defendants in the case, including the former President. However, the judge made it clear that the trial date applies only to Chesebro.
Trump's lawyers have informed the judge of their objection to club the former President's case with Cheesebro's saying they will attempt to separate the two cases to avoid the speedy trial.
Two hearings are expected on Monday related to former President Trump's alleged election interference -- one in Fulton County District Attorney Willis' case and the other related to special counsel Jack Smith's January 6 probe.
While both cases focus on the former president's attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, here's how they differ:
How are the Fulton County case and the Federal January 6 case different? Jack Smith's team has accused Trump of trying to overrun the 2020 election, leading to the violence on Congress' Capitol on January 6, 2021 to coerce lawmakers to "delay the certification" of results in favour of Biden. Trump is facing four federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. He has pleaded not guilty.
If elected President and convicted in this case, Trump could potentially pardon himself, CNN said.
In the Fulton County case, Trump and his accomplices are accused of orchestrating the so-called fake elector scheme including calls from the former President to elected officials to "find votes" and decertify the election that showed Trump was a loser.
Willis has charged Trump and 18 others -- including his former personal lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows -- with 41 charges of felony. The charges focus on violating the state's anti-racketeering law, and the indictment claims the defendants worked as an "enterprise" to overturn the election result.
Trump has been arrested and released on bond, but he has not yet been arraigned in this case, reports said.
If Trump is convicted and also elected President in 2024, he would not be able to pardon himself or his allies in this case -- or dismiss the Fulton County prosecutors bringing the charges -- as it would be a state conviction, CNN said.
Those facing the charges that will be opened in a federal court on Monday are: Trump; Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer; Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff; John Eastman, Trump's lawyer; Kenneth Chesebro, pro-Trump lawyer; Jeffrey Clark, top Justice Department official; Jenna Ellis, Trump's campaign lawyer; Robert Cheeley, lawyer who promoted fraud claims; Mike Roman, Trump's campaign official; David Shafer, Georgia GOP chair and fake elector; Shawn Still, fake GOP elector; Stephen Lee, pastor tied to intimidation of election workers; Harrison Floyd, leader of Black Voices for Trump; Trevian Kutti, publicist tied to intimidation of election workers; Sidney Powell, Trump's campaign lawyer; Cathy Latham, fake GOP elector tied to Coffee County breach; Scott Hall, tied to Coffee County election system breach; Misty Hampton, Coffee County elections supervisor; and Ray Smith, Trump campaign attorney .
All, expect one, of the defendants have been bailed out on bonds ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 for Trump and Giuliani respectively. Harrison Floyd is in Fulton County jail as he could not arrange his bail in time.