14 Mar 2024

Donald Trump's Georgia judge dismisses some criminal charges

6:05 am on 14 March 2024

By Max Matza for BBC News

(FILES) Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump gestures during a "Get Out the Vote" rally at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia, on March 2, 2024. On March 4, 2024, the US Supreme Court unanimously rejected Colorado's bid to take Trump off primary ballot.

Donald Trump is among 19 people charged with a conspiracy to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results. Photo: AFP

The judge overseeing an election interference case against Donald Trump in Georgia has thrown out some criminal charges, but left most in place.

Judge Scott McAfee found six counts in the 41-count indictment against Trump and some of his co-defendants, including Rudy Giuliani, lacked detail.

But he said the charges can still be refiled at a later date.

Trump was among 19 people charged with a conspiracy to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

"The lack of detail concerning an essential legal element is, in the undersigned's opinion, fatal," Judge McAfee wrote in his order on Wednesday.

He said the charges do not provide the accused with enough information to prepare their legal defences "intelligently", adding that "this does not mean the entire indictment is dismissed".

The ruling affects three of the 13 charges against Trump.

They relate to a call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he told him: "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have."

The other dismissed charges apply to some of his most prominent co-defendants: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Mark Meadows.

In his order, Judge McAfee said the charges "contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission, i.e., the underlying felony solicited".

It comes as a win for Trump and his co-defendants, who had filed to dismiss the charges. Prosecutors could now choose to refile the charges with more information in their allegation, or let the ruling stand and focus on the other charges.

The group had initially faced 41 total charges. The former president is facing up to 20 years in prison in Georgia if convicted of the most severe charge of racketeering.

Trump, who is running for president against Joe Biden in November, has slammed the case as politically motivated.

The Georgia ruling does not address the defence's effort to dismiss Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over ethics claims that she had an improper relationship with a lawyer she hired to work on the case.

A ruling on the ethics complaint is expected to come soon.

- This story was first published by the BBC.

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