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Trump co-defendant Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty in Georgia election case

Twelve of the 19 defendants in the case, including Trump, have pleaded not guilty ahead of arraignments scheduled for Wednesday.
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ATLANTA — Rudy Giuliani, who championed former President Donald Trump's false claims of a stolen election, pleaded not guilty Friday in the Georgia interference case.

Giuliani "waives formal arraignment, pleads NOT GUILTY to all pending charges" in the indictment, attorneys for the former New York City mayor said in a court filing signed by Giuliani late Friday.

Both Giuliani and Trump, who pleaded not guilty Thursday, face 13 criminal counts — the most among the 19 defendants in the sprawling case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Giuliani is charged with racketeering and conspiracy charges that include allegedly pressuring state officials to act on his bogus election claims. He is also accused of making false claims in sworn legal filings.

Speaking to reporters last week after he was booked at Fulton County Jail, Giuliani maintained his innocence and said the only thing he's guilty of was advocating for then-President Trump, who was his client at the time. “I am being indicted because I’m a lawyer,” Giuliani said after he was released on a $150,000 bond.

Most of the defendants in the case have now pleaded not guilty.

Kenneth Chesebro, the attorney who helped concoct the legal theory behind the so-called fake electors scheme used by Trump and his allies, pleaded not guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges in the case late Thursday.

In a filing to the judge overseeing the criminal case, Chesebro said he was not guilty of the charges against him and waived his arraignment in the case, which, like Giuliani's, had been scheduled for Sept. 6.

Trump similarly on Thursday submitted a written not guilty plea and waived arraignment, which is allowed under Georgia law. Others who have done so include former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith, and Trevian Kutti, a publicist who's represented Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West.

Earlier Friday, Michael Roman, a former Trump White House official who worked on his 2016 and 2020 campaigns and is accused of taking part in the electors scheme, pleaded not guilty and waived his arraignment. Others who have pleaded not guilty include Stephen Lee and Harrison Floyd, who are charged with trying to get an election worker to make false statements, and Scott Hall, accused of taking part in a scheme to tamper with voting machines.

Also pleading not guilty was Robert Cheeley, an attorney who prosecutors said was involved in the electors' scheme and then lied about his involvement when he testified before the special grand jury in Fulton County that heard evidence in the case.

Those who have yet to enter a written plea and are still scheduled to be arraigned next week.

Chesebro previously agreed to a $100,000 bond in the case.

The indictment charges that Chesebro authored a memo outlining a plan to have "alternate" presidential electors cast their votes for Trump in states that were won by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election and helped organize the effort in those states, including Georgia.

He also sent a co-defendant an email on Jan. 1, 2021, that "outlined strategy for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021," the filing said.

Chesebro maintains he was merely sharing legal advice and did not do anything criminal. He has requested a speedy trial in the case, which Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has signed off on and scheduled for Oct. 23.

Chesebro has also asked the judge to sever his case from the other co-defendants, a request which is still pending.

Willis' office had asked the judge to clarify whether the Oct. 23 trial date applies to other defendants as well. In a ruling Friday, McAfee said he would sort out those issues after all defendants are arraigned and he's considered their various severance motions.

Willis had asked the judge to elaborate because of a line in his order granting Chesebro's request for a speedy trial, where he wrote that “[a]t this time, these deadlines do not apply to any co-defendant.”

The district attorney's office said in a court filing that it "maintains its position that severance is improper at this juncture and that all Defendants should be tried together."

Powell has also filed a request for a speedy trial. In a filing Friday, Chesebro contended they should be tried separately because the charges against them are "entirely separate, and completely unrelated."

"The fact that Mr. Chesebro is implicated with Ms. Powell will inextricably link them together and has the potential to cause a tremendous prejudice,” the filing says.

In a court filing Thursday, Trump's lawyer Steven Sadow said the former president opposes going to trial in October because they would "not have sufficient time to prepare President Trump’s case for trial." Trump has said the Georgia case and the three other criminal trials he’s facing should be delayed until after the 2024 presidential election. Those three cases have been scheduled to start before next year's general election.

Charlie Gile reported from Atlanta, Dareh Gregorian reported from New York.