Trump's team raises First Amendment concerns in Georgia election tampering case.

Atlanta — In his appeal of the Georgia election interference accusation, Donald Trump's lawyer stated Thursday that the allegations punish First Amendment-protected political speech and advocacy.

Trump filed a filing and co-defendant David Shafer filed two pretrial motions before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee. The session focused on technical legal concerns. It signaled a return to normalcy after District Attorney Fani Willis was accused of unlawfully benefiting from her intimate relationship with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor designated for the case.

“There is nothing alleged factually against President Trump that is not political speech,” Trump's lead lawyer, Steve Sadow, told the judge. Sadow called a sitting president's electoral concerns “the height of political speech” and protected even if they were incorrect.

Donald Wakeford, the prosecutor, said that Trump's words were essential to criminal action and therefore not protected by the First Amendment.

Not merely that they were false. Wakeford said Trump is free to express his opinion and protest legally. “He cannot use his speech, expression, and statements as part of a criminal conspiracy to violate Georgia’s RICO statute, impersonate public officers, file false documents, or make false government statements.”

Wakeford noted that Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith rejected similar claims in his federal election interference case against Trump. In December, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that “it is well established that the First Amendment does not protect speech that is used as an instrument of a crime.”

Chutkan stated, “Defendant is not being prosecuted simply for making false statements... but rather for knowingly making false statements in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy and obstructing the electoral process.

Willis charged Trump and 18 others with conspiring to change Georgia's 2020 election results under Georgia's sweeping Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law.

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