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Judge Denies Trump’s First Amendment Challenge to Georgia Indictment

via NBC News
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Georgia judge Scott McAfee rejected arguments from Donald Trump and others that an indictment accusing them of election interference seeks to criminalize protected political speech.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss.

Trump’s lawyers claimed the charges only involve protected false statements.

But the judge said at this stage, the indictment must be viewed as alleging willful, knowing criminal acts, not just false speech.

Even protected speech can further alleged criminal racketeering, he added.

“Even core political speech addressing matters of public concern is not impenetrable from prosecution if allegedly used to further criminal activity,” McAfee wrote.

However, the judge left open the possibility of First Amendment challenges later.

A spokesperson for the district attorney declined to comment.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan stated that “it is well established that the First Amendment does not protect speech that is used as an instrument of a crime.”

The judge also denied motions from Trump ally David Shafer challenging certain indictment phrases as prejudicial but said they accurately described the alleged lawful and unlawful electoral vote acts.

McAfee wrote that “the challenged language is not prejudicial because it accurately describes the alleged offenses and makes the charges more easily understood by providing a basis to differentiate the allegedly lawful and unlawful acts of presidential electors (as theorized by the State.)”

No trial has been set in the ongoing Georgia case, one of four criminal cases against Trump.

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