A Georgia judge on Wednesday dealt a huge blow and denied requests from two of Donald Trump’s ex-lawyers to sever their lawsuits from the indictment against the former president for trying to overthrow the state’s 2020 election.
Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro were charged alongside Trump and 16 other co-defendants with felony racketeering for trying to overturn Georgia’s election results. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Judge Scott McAfee heard arguments Wednesday from Powell and Chesebro’s lawyers. Powell was charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, trespass and invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state. Her lawyers argued that she is not connected to the other defendants because she never officially represented Trump in Georgia.
Chesebro was charged with racketeering and conspiracy. He requested that his trial be severed not just from Trump’s but from Powell’s too. He has argued that he didn’t commit any unlawful actions because he was only sharing legal advice, not actively participating on Trump’s team.
Both his and Powell’s lawyers insisted that they could only get fair trials if they were tried alone, instead of alongside the other co-defendants, as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis plans.
But McAfee found their arguments unconvincing—and delivered a partial win for Willis. Although he also said he remained “very skeptical” of trying everyone at once, he gave Willis more time to make her case.
“Based on what’s been presented today, I am not finding the severance from Mr. Chesebro or Ms. Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case,” he said at the hearing.
Chesebro was the original mastermind behind the plan to use slates of fake electors to swing the election for Trump. He also attended the rally on January 6 that eventually turned into the insurrection. It is unclear if he entered the Capitol, but video footage shows Chesebro following conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones into sections of the restricted area around the building.
Powell was one of the main people pushing the falsehood that the election had been rigged. She regularly appeared on Fox News to spread the conspiracy theory. She was sanctioned in Michigan for alleging the election was fraudulent.