ATLANTA -- Three Republican electors charged in Fulton County with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election asked a judge Wednesday to transfer their cases to federal court.
Attorneys for former GOP Chairman David Shafer, state Sen. Shawn Still and former Coffee County GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham argued in a hearing that their clients were federal officials when they and 13 others met in December 2020 to cast presidential ballots for Donald Trump. That same day, Georgia’s official presidential electors voted for Democrat Joe Biden, whose slim victory was confirmed by two recounts.
The defendants claim they were “contingent’ electors acting in an official federal capacity and that entitled them to have their cases transferred to federal court, where they could be judged by jurors from across the metro region, which is more politically conservative than solidly Democratic Fulton County.
Craig Gillen, a lawyer for Shafer, said his client was trying to preserve Trump’s legal rights in an election challenge filed in Fulton County Superior Court.
“By federal law, these people were not fake, sham or impersonators. They were contingent electors,” Gillen told U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones.
Gillen also cautioned that the the case is not a referendum on the former president.
“This hearing is not about Donald Trump. This hearing is about three citizens of Georgia,” Gillen said.
The arguments were the latest development in a racketeering case stemming from Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged 19 people — including Trump ― in what she calls a “criminal enterprise.”
Jones is expected to issue an opinion on the electors’ removal requests in coming days. He has already rejected one from another defendant - former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. That decision is under appeal.
Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark also made his case for removal before Jones on Monday. A decision is pending.
To have their cases transferred to federal court, the Republicans must show they were federal officers performing federal duties. They also must raise a plausible federal defense.
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