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Trump seeks Willis' help to obtain documents in federal case

David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

Former President Donald Trump is seeking help from an unlikely source as he tries to obtain federal records to defend himself in the Fulton County election interference case – District Attorney Fani Willis.

Trump’s Georgia attorney – Steve Sadow – wants access to lists of evidence disclosed to other Trump attorneys in the separate federal election interference case in Washington. But a protective order handed down at the request of Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith prohibits the disclosure of evidence in the federal criminal case – even to Trump attorneys in other cases.

So Sadow wants Willis to contact Smith to determine if he will disclose discovery letters and lists of evidence to her, which she can then share with Sadow for Trump’s Georgia defense. He made the request in a motion filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court.

The request underscores the tangled legal thicket Trump must negotiate as he faces criminal charges in four separate cases – all while fending off civil litigation and running for president.

In August, Smith charged Trump with four felony counts for his allegedly illegal efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia and other swing states. That case is set for trial in March.

In Georgia, Willis charged Trump and 18 other defendants for participating in an alleged criminal enterprise to overturn Biden’s victory here. Four defendants already have pleaded guilty.

Though Willis and Smith have taken different approaches, there is substantial overlap in their cases. Some legal observers believe the prosecutors could benefit from formal or informal cooperation.

But Monday’s motion makes it clear Sadow believes Trump’s Georgia defense could also benefit from the disclosure of evidence gathered by federal prosecutors.

 

In his motion, Sadow said he has attempted to informally obtain discovery letters and lists of discovery material that federal prosecutors have provided to Trump’s attorneys in the federal case, as required by law. Sadow is not yet seeking the evidence itself – he just wants to see descriptions of the evidence to determine whether it’s relevant to the Georgia case.

But Trump’s attorneys in the federal case told Sadow they could not provide the information because of a protective order issued by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

In his motion, Sadow asked Willis’ office to contact Smith’s office to try to acquire the requested information. And he asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to authorize Trump to subpoena the material from Smith’s office and the former president’s D.C. attorneys.

“President Trump is seeking fair and reasonable means to protect his right to due process of law under the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions,” Sadow said in a statement issued to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. “We are confident that securing access to relevant discovery contained in the files of the Special Counsel’s Office in D.C. will further support President Trump’s defense and make clear his innocence in the Fulton County case.”

Willis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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(Staff writers Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin contributed to this report)


©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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