Fake Elector Scheme Mastermind and Sidney Powell to be Tried Separately in Racketeering Case

Attorney Kenneth Chesebro, believed to be the mastermind behind the fake elector scheme aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in office, will be tried separately from Sidney Powell, a prominent figure associated with right-wing politics. Fulton County Supreme Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that their trial will be conducted apart from Trump and the 16 other co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering prosecution brought by District Attorney Fani Willis over attempts to subvert Georgia’s 2020 presidential election returns.

McAfee stated that severing the remaining 17 co-defendants is inevitable from a procedural and logistical standpoint, but further divisions may be required in the future. Chesebro and Powell’s cases became intertwined after Chesebro invoked his right to a speedy trial, prompting Powell to make the same demand. Willis set a trial date of October 23, which did not work in Chesebro’s favor. Defense attorney Peter Pullano explained that the defense investigation is at an earlier stage than the prosecution’s at the arraignment and posturing is preliminary.

While Willis preferred to try all 19 defendants together, the ruling is a clear loss for Chesebro, who wanted to separate himself from Powell. Chesebro’s motion emphasized that there was no direct contact or communication between him and Powell and no correlation between their charges. Powell’s lawyer made similar arguments.

McAfee acknowledged the similarities in their arguments but concluded that severance would not be granted. However, he recognized the concern over potential blending of evidence and juror confusion in a multiple defendant trial. Defense lawyer Pullano stated that defendants often end up pointing fingers at each other in such trials.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani noted that being tried alongside a more culpable defendant can be detrimental to the lesser defendants, as evidence against the larger players in the conspiracy may overshadow their individual charges. McAfee’s ruling also referred to the prosecution’s argument of an overarching conspiracy involving all defendants.

The trial for Chesebro and Powell is scheduled for next month, while Willis proposed a March 2024 trial date for the remaining co-defendants.