Prosecution: Defense attorneys have conflicts in Trump RICO case

Chris Joyner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA — The Fulton County District Attorney’s office claims six defense attorneys involved in the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others have conflicts of interest because some of their former clients may be called as witnesses for the prosecution.

In a notice filed with the court Wednesday, District Attorney Fani Willis wrote that defense attorneys Chris Anulewicz, Amanda Clark Palmer, Scott Grubman, Harry MacDougald, Bruce Morris and Don Samuel face a “significant risk” of violating the State Bar of Georgia’s professional standards if they continue representing defendants in the case. Willis wrote that the attorneys could be in position to crossexamine their prior clients if allowed to continue.

Those former clients who could be called as witnesses include Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, as well as unnamed state lawmakers and members of the State Election Board, among others.

Some of those prior clients were called as witnesses to testify before the special purpose grand jury that spent eight months investigating the alleged conspiracy. Others were involved in separate lawsuits surrounding the contested results in the 2020 presidential election.

Willis asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to look into the potential conflicts and take “appropriate remedial measures” to protect the rights of witnesses and defendants in the case.

Should McAfee side with Willis, it could mean the attorneys — who are counted among the most prominent and battle tested criminal defense lawyers in Atlanta — could no longer take part in the Trump case.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to the attorneys cited in Willis’ notice for a response.

In a succinct email, Morris replied, “There is no conflict.”


Grubman said he planned to file a written response later today. The other attorneys cited in the notice did not immediately respond.

Palmer, Morris and Samuel are all attorneys for Ray Smith III, an Atlanta lawyer who advised a group of Republicans who assembled in a committee room in the State Capitol to act as electors for Trump, signing documents stating falsely that Trump won the election.

MacDougald represents former U.S. Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark who drafted a letter expressing “significant concerns” about the outcome of the vote in Georgia and other states and urged Gov. Brian Kemp to call a special session of the General Assembly to invalidate the results. The letter was never sent after top Justice officials threatened to resign in protest.

Anulewicz represents Alpharetta attorney Bob Cheeley, who took part in a controversial hearing with state lawmakers. In it, Cheeley presented video clips showing Fulton County election workers handling ballots in State Farm Arena the night of the 2020 presidential election and claimed they were double- and triple-counting votes.

Grubman represents Kenneth Chesebro, a Trump campaign attorney who helped coordinate the slate of Trump electors.


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