Paul Kamenar: Georgia Trump Indictment ‘Way Overbroad,’ Targets First Amendment Rights

Paul Kamenar: Georgia Trump Indictment ‘Way Overbroad,’ Targets First Amendment Rights
Paul Kamenar, counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center, speaks with NTD, in a still from a video released on Jan. 12, 2023. (NTD)

The latest criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump in Georgia risks punishing the former president’s free speech, according to Paul Kamenar, counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center.

In an interview with “Capitol Report” on Wednesday, Mr. Kamenar decried the 98-page criminal indictment against President Trump, which alleges he and his advisers violated Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws while challenging the state’s 2020 election results. The Georgia indictment further alleges President Trump and numerous alleged co-conspirators also made several false statements and illegal efforts to get public officials to violate their oaths of office.

“That one is a broader type of indictment and way overbroad,” Mr. Kamenar said of the charges, which Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis unveiled on Monday evening.

Mr. Kamenar has criticized prior criminal indictments levied against the 45th president. Special counsel Jack Smith indicted the President Trump in June, on allegations that he improperly retained classified documents after the end of his presidency and deceived officials seeking to collect those documents. Mr. Smith filed another indictment in the Washington D.C. federal court earlier this month, alleging President Trump conspired to defraud and obstruct the government and violate the right to vote with his various attempts to contest the 2020 election results in multiple states, culminating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

President Trump’s supporters have argued that Mr. Smith’s indictment in the Jan. 6 case unfairly targeted actions by the president that should be protected under his First Amendment right to free speech. Mr. Kamenar raised a similar defense of the former president after the latest charges in Georgia.

“Both of them are going after First Amendment activities of President Trump. There are allegations they have 161 so-called acts that supposedly support these criminal charges. And these acts are basically requests by Trump and others to have some of the allegations of voter fraud checked out under our First Amendment,” Mr. Kamenar said. “They were just simply petitioning for redress of grievances. And the government cannot criminalize a citizen or an officeholder petitioning for redress of grievances. So both these cases—D.C. and the Georgia one—suffer from that major infirmity.”

Kamenar Lays Out Legal Challenges In Georgia Case

Mr. Kamenar also criticized Ms. Willis’s use of Georgia’s RICO laws, arguing that the statute will add a layer of complexity to the case that will make it difficult to quickly adjudicate.

“There’s no way that this trial can be conducted even before next year’s election under the RICO statute they have down there,” he said. “It’s been taking them six months at another RICO case just to get a jury selected. And those RICO statutes are used for criminal types of enterprises, drug dealers, smugglers, and so forth. So this is being abused.”

On Wednesday, Ms. Willis requested to take her case to trial by March 4, 2024.

Another factor that Mr. Kamenar said could complicate the Georgia case is that President Trump and some other individuals charged in the case could petition to have the case moved over to a federal court. He specifically noted a U.S. law that allows individuals who were federal officeholders at the time of an alleged criminal act to have the case go before a federal court. Mark Meadows, who was also charged in the Georgia case and who was the White House Chief of Staff at the time, has already filed to have his case moved to federal court, and Mr. Kamenar predicted President Trump will similarly seek to have his case moved to the federal side.

“You’re going to have two trials, one in federal court, with Trump and Meadows, and one in the state court with those who were not federal officials, and they’ll be trying the same counts and the same evidence, etc.,” Mr. Kamenar said. “So, I mean, this is going to be a circus. It’s totally unwieldy.”

Mr. Kamenar added that he thinks Ms. Willis “bit off more than she could chew,” adding, “This is totally improper and an overkill and a misuse of the criminal law.”

NTD News reached out to Ms. Willis’s office for comment, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

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