A tactic that previously failed for former President Donald Trump in his Manhattan criminal case might find success if applied in Georgia.
A Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury voted to indict Trump and 18 others for state-level criminal offenses related to his alleged attempts to alter the final votes in Georgia in the 2020 election. Trump is facing 13 felony charges, including violations of Georgia’s RICO Act, solicitation of a breach of oath by a public officer, multiple counts of conspiracy, and filing false documents.
A recent report from Politico suggested that Trump and his lawyers could successfully request a move from a state court to a federal court based on the federal “removal statute.” This statute allows U.S. officers being tried at the state level to have their cases shifted to a federal court.
Trump unsuccessfully attempted this tactic in response to his state-level indictment in Manhattan, where he was accused of unlawfully concealing hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein denied this request, ruling that it was “private conduct” unrelated to Trump’s presidential duties. An appeal of this decision is underway.
In Georgia, however, Trump could be more fortunate in seeking removal to a federal court, as many of the charges are connected to his actions and responsibilities while in office. Various legal professionals spoke to Newsweek, indicating that this move might be successful.
An assistant law professor at Georgia State University, Anthony Michael Kreis, estimated a “50/50 shot” of the case being moved. Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Florida’s Palm Beach County, noted the chance of this happening, though he considered it “unfortunate” since it would exclude cameras from the courtroom.
Former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Trump might pursue this issue to the Supreme Court, noting that Trump tends to litigate any matter, regardless of its merits.
If successful, the move to a federal court could favor Trump, potentially allowing for a broader statewide jury pool instead of one from Fulton County, where Trump’s popularity is notably low. The case might also be assigned to a federal judge appointed by Trump, as occurred in the classified documents case.
Trump must voluntarily surrender for arraignment in Fulton County by Friday, where he will enter a plea. He continues to claim innocence in this matter, as with his current legal issues. District Attorney Fani Willis stated on Monday that she plans to bring the case to trial within the next six months.