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2 defendants in the Georgia election interference case will go on trial next month


At least two of the defendants in the Georgia election interference case will go to trial next month.


That's after a hearing televised live yesterday in Fulton County Superior Court. It offered a glimpse into how complex this case is likely to be. Prosecutors say they expect that any trial would take four months and they would expect to call some 150 witnesses.

FADEL: Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler was there for the Atlanta hearing and joins us now. Good morning, Stephen.


FADEL: So tell us what this hearing was and what we learned from it.

FOWLER: So two defendants, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, both wanted speedy trials and to be tried by themselves. Lawyers argued their alleged crimes were different from each other, and hearing about the other's case could sway the jury. Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee disagreed and said both go to trial October 23. As for the other 17 defendants, he seemed skeptical that all of the rest of them, including former President Donald Trump, could be tried in about six weeks' time, citing a flurry of motions and other legal questions raised.


SCOTT MCAFEE: If we compress our timeline to 40-something days, our ability to even be able to really weigh those and think through these issues again, it just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in 40-something days.

FOWLER: We do expect more clarity in the next few days from McAfee about the trial scheduling for others and from a federal judge deciding if any cases go there.

FADEL: As we mentioned earlier, prosecutors said they plan for a four-month trial and 150 witnesses. Seems like a lot. What stands out to you about that?

FOWLER: Well, the DA's office still argues, Leila, that all 19 people should go to trial together at the end of October. But they also say that four-month, 150-witness timeline would apply no matter how many different ways you slice it, no matter how many different trials there are, how many different ways people are split up due to the sprawling nature of this alleged conspiracy. Here's Will Wooten with the DA's office.


WILL WOOTEN: The state's position is that whether we have one trial or 19 trials, the evidence is exactly the same. The number of witnesses is the same.

FOWLER: Basically, they say this racketeering case is a multipronged effort to undo Trump's election defeat. And you've got to show jurors every single piece of the puzzle to show how specific pieces might be against the law. Also, Leila, the timeline doesn't include jury selection. It's important to note just a few floors away in the Fulton County Courthouse, there's another RICO case against Young Thug, the rapper, and others that's seen their jury selection process take about eight months, and they still don't have a single juror seated.

FADEL: A really complicated case. Let's talk about another aspect of this hearing. I mean, we're hearing from inside yesterday's hearing, which is because it was streamed live on TV and on the judge's YouTube page. How notable is that?

FOWLER: Well, for one, it allows more than just a handful of journalists and legal observers to tune in. I mean, this indictment centers around things like phone calls and has victims and poll workers that were allegedly harassed. And so seeing and hearing this testimony and the lawyers in their own words is definitely going to have a bigger impact.

Now, this Georgia state court decision differs from the other three Trump indictments where cameras aren't allowed. So think of it this way. The access, plus potential timing, could very well mean much of the country gets reacquainted to steps that Trump and others took to overturn the 2020 election about the same time they decide if they want to send him back to the White House or not.

FADEL: Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks, Stephen.

FOWLER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Stephen Fowler
Stephen Fowler is a political reporter with NPR's Washington Desk and will be covering the 2024 election based in the South. Before joining NPR, he spent more than seven years at Georgia Public Broadcasting as its political reporter and host of the Battleground: Ballot Box podcast, which covered voting rights and legal fallout from the 2020 presidential election, the evolution of the Republican Party and other changes driving Georgia's growing prominence in American politics. His reporting has appeared everywhere from the Center for Public Integrity and the Columbia Journalism Review to the PBS NewsHour and ProPublica.