The link to the first in this series: Introduction
Links to previous updates can be found at the conclusion of this latest update.
There is a small but significant change to the title of this tracker series. GOP has replaced Trump because, although the Criminal-in Chief is the root cause of all these legal tribulations, it is not about him alone. Nor should it be. All of those caught up in the web of criminality are educated adults who should know better than to hitch their wagon-loads of ambition to a bag of hot air. No matter how high it flies, it belongs in the category of what goes up must come down.
And down is the trajectory of them all including the co-conspirators who are thus far unnamed, unindicted or unmentioned. They’re all going down.
Here is the key to their collective downfall.
In order to provide a complete overview of the legal upheavals this year, we begin with a quick flashback to Trump’s standout legal dates from March to July.
Now onwards to the last days of August.
Since the previous update on the 28th, August has continued to add items of keen interest to observers on Justice Watch (which is an extension of Indictment Watch). In an August 29 court filing, Fani Willis reiterated that she wanted to try all 19 of the co-defendants in the same trial. Dr Allison Gill in her podcast The Daily Beans “Weekend at McBurney’s” explains that, in her motion to Judge Scott McAfee, Willis asserts that:
Her office, quote: “…maintains its position that severance is improper at this juncture and that all defendants should be tried together.” (2:47-2:54)
Judge McAfee ordered Kenneth Chesebro to stand trial October 23rd. The DA is seeking clarification on that recent order from the Judge which stated that the trial deadlines he’d set for Chesebro don’t apply to the co-defendants.
Quote: “It is unclear to the State of Georgia from the text of the order, whether the Court’s intention was to sever Chesebro’s trial from the other defendants.”
In pushing to keep the defendants together, Willis argues in the filing that there is insufficient information before the Court for it to determine whether a motion to sever could be obtained by any other defendant. (4:02-4:37)
Severability is the issue here. So far Judge McAfee has only dealt with requests for a speedy trial and severance is not an automatic consequence if the request for a speedy trial is granted. Yet Judge McAfee was handing out severance along with speedy trials even though he’d received no requests for it, hadn’t held a hearing about the matter and set no guidelines or deadline for court filings.
According to Georgia law, defendants must apply for severance in a filing separate from their speedy trial request. Both Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell filed theirs late Wednesday. It is now up to Judge McAfee to backtrack and check on Georgia’s procedures before he rules on those requests. It is imperative for the case that there are sufficient grounds for severance because, if not, there is no legal basis for separating the defendants.
DA Willis is also asking Judge McAfee to set a hearing and a deadline for severance requests. It’s all part of proper procedure, a subject in which Fani Willis is using this particular court filing to politely teach the newbie judge about what he needs to know about Georgia’s RICO Law.
As for Powell’s request for severance, Katie Phang had this to say:
Her motion is so worth the read bc it’s so absurd: she claims she’s only being charged with RICO because “she attended a press conference exercising her First Amendment right to speak on a matter of great public interest…”
You can read the absurdity in full in this document cloud and Ursula Faw’s take in Sidney Powell Did A Motion To Sever Because She’s Pure As Driven Snow.
Aussies will be delighted to read that the name of Sidney Powell’s attorney is Rafferty. For non-Australians, allow me to explain why we find this particularly entertaining. “Rafferty’s rules” has been part of Aussie slang since at least the 1910s. The full version is “to play by Rafferty’s rules” which means to not be playing by any rules at all. That’s very apropos of the crazy kraken lady!
To use another Aussie expression, Sidney Powell has Buckley’s chance of Judge McAfee granting her request for severance. I reckon you can guess what that saying means.
To round off this story on Powell, here is the inimitable George Takei’s take on Mastodon:
Meadows’ hearing is ongoing, eking out its existence at a snail’s pace that will crawl into the early days of September. Meadows decided to testify and spent 5 hours in the witness box explaining that (a) he was just doing his job and (b) Trump made him do it.
That 5-hour duration may seem a long time but it pales in comparison to Hillary Clinton’s 11-hour stint when she patiently explained to House Republicans the parameters of her job as Secretary of State. The reason it took her more than twice as long as Mark Meadows is because rampant bias and chronic delusion render Republicans dense so it takes them more than twice as long to take in difficult concepts like facts.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Steve Jones had a question: “What if at least one but not all the overt acts occurred under the colour of Meadows’ office, would that be sufficient for federal removal?” Essentially, Judge Jones is asking what if some of Meadows’ actions were performed in his official role and some weren’t.
Both sides were ordered to submit their responses by Thursday afternoon, August 31. This gives Fani Willis an opportunity to weigh in on why Meadows’ case should not be transferred to federal court.
Before moving on, I’m taking a quick time out to clarify the meanings of overt acts and predicate acts because understanding them is essential to any discussion of the RICO indictment.
An overt act is an action that isn’t necessarily a crime in itself but is part of a plan to commit a crime and demonstrates an intention to carry out the crime. For example: Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensperger was an overt act.
A predicate act describes an action that is a crime. In RICO, there are a number of different crimes that all contribute to the major crime at the core of the criminal enterprise.
For those who prefer a visual explanation, I prepared this graphic. Do feel free to let me know in the comments what you think of it.
With such an abundance of overt and predicate acts in the indictment, Allison Gill reasons that this must afford Fani Willis considerable tactical scope, so she asks:
If one overt act is enough to remove Meadows to trial in federal court, could DA Fani Willis just strike that overt act from the indictment? She only needs two predicate acts to convict and she has 34 predicate acts and 161 overt acts. And the two [predicate] acts [needed for conviction] don’t have to have anything to do with Meadows’ conduct specifically because they’re all part of a criminal enterprise. (6:42-7:08)
I hope this is what Fani Willis has in mind because it would be such a cool way to lasso Mark Meadows and drag him back to state court.
In more bad news for the Criminal-in-Chief, NY AG Letitia James (plaintiff) is seeking an immediate verdict in one of seven claims in the Trump Org (aka Grift Co) case in court papers filed Wednesday, August 30. From the New York Law Journal:
“Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the Court to determine that Defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values in the [statements of financial condition] and then used those SFCs repeatedly in business transactions to defraud banks and insurers,” plaintiffs claimed.
If Judge Engoron agrees that the evidence is indisputable, he can rule on this claim separately without taking it to trial. However, there will still be a trial by jury in October for the remainder of the suit.
On the last day of the month, August looks like this:
September has a date and timetable for the RICO arraignments plus two pretrial dates. Currently, Judge McAfee considers these dates to apply only to bracket 1 defendants but this will change if Fani Willis succeeds in arguing that they should apply to all defendants.
Georgia law is on Fani’s side so the current score stands at Advantage Willis.
It will cause havoc among the motley assortment of co-conspirators and I’m here for it.
Another event has also been added to this month and that’s the public release of the full report from the special-purpose grand jury. In a hearing late February, Judge Robert McBurney agreed to withhold the release of the full report until after DA Willis had presented her case to a regular grand jury and secured an indictment. It seemed to take an age for a regular grand jury to hear the case but, when they did, it was suddenly everything everywhere all at once.
At the time of publication, four defendants, including the Criminal-in-Chief, had chosen to waive their arraignment and enter not-guilty pleas in court filings.
October boasts two trial dates. For more information on the Trump organisation fraud case in New York, please refer to UPDATE 2. This will be the first major test for Trump’s endurance. He faces having his precious Trump Organisation shut down in New York state and its assets seized to pay its debts and court penalties.
November, surprisingly, remains blank. Nevertheless, I have confidence that November will not remain clear of engagements for long. December has only one date so far, an evidentiary hearing before Judge Loose Cannon. There will be more about her shenanigans in a future update.
January has two trial dates for Trump, both of which are civil suits. He’ll lose both and with two losses kicking off the first month, I predict Trump is about to have the worst year of his life.
March also has two trial dates though it is possible that the Manhattan date may be postponed if the DC trial runs long. Judge Tanya Chutkan contacted Judge Juan Merchan to discuss the possibility. It is a mark of Judge Chutkan’s comity and respect for a fellow judge that she did so because it was not required of her.
Keep a watchful eye out for further updates, Zoomers!
Pictured in the featured image:
Judge Steve C Jones (the Meadows hearing), DA Fani Willis and Judge Scott McAfee
If you see or hear of any firm or proposed dates, please let me know in the comments or on social media. You can find me on Twitter as @Mopshell, on Post and Mastodon as @michelle_elle, on Spoutible as @MichelleElle and Michelle Elle on Creative Sprints on Saturday, 4pm-7pm EST and Sunday, 4pm-7pm EST