August 28, 2023 - The next phase of Trump's Georgia and federal 2020 election subversion cases

By Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Isabelle D'Antonio and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:00 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023
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7:00 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Our live coverage has ended. Follow the latest news on Donald Trump's cases or read through the updates below. 

6:28 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Hearing on Meadows' bid to move Georgia election case to federal court ends without a ruling

From CNN's Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz

Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, takes the stand during a hearing in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia. 
Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, takes the stand during a hearing in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia.  Lucy Luckovich

The all-day hearing on former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request to move the Georgia election interference case to federal court in Atlanta has concluded.

US District Judge Steve Jones did not rule from the bench on Monday. He acknowledged that arraignments in the criminal case were scheduled for September 6, and said he would rule as quickly as possible.

Meadows’ attorney said “we are entitled to a prompt determination” of whether his state criminal charges will be moved to federal court.

As the hearing drew to a close, one of the judge’s final questions was whether Meadows had any federal authorities that Trump didn’t have as president. District Attorney Fani Willis’ office said no, but Meadows team said yes, arguing that the chief of staff has a “wide range of authority.” 

The breadth of his federal authority is key to determining whether the case will stay in state court.

6:28 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Meadows’ attorney says shooting someone would be outside bounds of his job — but questioning election wasn’t

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Jason Morris

During closing statements in the hearing over Mark Meadows' bid to move his Georgia case to federal court, the former White House chief of staff's lawyer said shooting someone would be outside the bounds of his role, but questioning the 2020 election results wasn't.

The judge asked Meadows’ lawyer about the limits of his duties as a federal official — a question that is at the heart of today’s hearing.  

Meadows’ lawyer, George Terwilliger, said the job responsibilities are broad because the role of chief of staff is so closely intertwined with the operations of the federal government.   

“But if he shot a demonstrator in Lafayette Park, that would obviously be outside the scope of his duties,” Terwilliger said.  

Meadows’ attorney urged the judge to move the case to federal court, arguing there was a low evidentiary burden. “The tie doesn’t go to the state,” Meadows’ attorney argued.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ team argued the Hatch Act, which bans federal officials from political activities in an official capacity, “places a hard outer boundary” for where a federal official’s job responsibilities end — once they start engaging in political activity, prosecutor Donald Wakeford said.    

Prosecutors argued that as a result, Meadows' actions in the indictment weren’t part of his job, so the case should stay in state court.

“He doesn’t think anything he does can be touched by the Hatch Act,” Willis’ team argued.  

CNN's Fabiana Chaparro, Macie Goldfarb, Morayo Ogunbayo, Jared Formanek and Shirin Faqiri contributed to this reporting.

5:59 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

A look at Donald Trump’s trial calendar, which is complicated by the US political calendar

From CNN's  Zachary B. Wolf

Former President Donald Trump walks to speak with reporters before departure from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday in Atlanta.`
Former President Donald Trump walks to speak with reporters before departure from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday in Atlanta.` Alex B

Donald Trump’s very complicated legal calendar is coming into view. It appears that his criminal trials will occur after a large portion of Republican primary voters have decided whether to make him their nominee for the third consecutive time but before Election Day.

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, DC, set March 4, 2024, as the start date for the first of the former president's two federal criminal trials. Read CNN’s full coverage of two dueling hearings from Monday.

The next day, March 5, is Super Tuesday, the fulcrum of the primary calendar, when Texas, California and a dozen other states hold their primaries. It’s the largest delegate prize of the year.

Here's how the dueling 2024 calendars look:

  • January 15 – E. Jean Carroll civil defamation trial begins; Iowa caucuses
  • January 23 – Possible New Hampshire primary
  • February 8 – Nevada caucuses
  • February 24 – South Carolina primary
  • February 27 – Possible Michigan primary
  • March 2 – Possible Michigan caucuses; Idaho caucuses
  • March 3 – DC party-run primary
  • March 4 – Federal trial on 2020 election criminal charges begins; North Dakota caucuses
  • March 5 (Super Tuesday) – Primaries in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah caucuses, primaries in Vermont, Virginia
  • March 12 – Primary in Georgia, Hawaii caucuses, primaries in Mississippi, Washington
  • March 19 – Primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio
  • March 23 – Primary in Louisiana
  • March 25 – Trump’s criminal trial in New York related to 2016 hush-money payments begins
  • April 2 – Primaries in Delaware, potentially New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin
  • April 23 – Primary in Pennsylvania
  • April 30 – Primary in Connecticut
  • May 7 – Primary in Indiana
  • May 14 – Primaries in Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia
  • May 20 – Criminal trial in classified documents case begins
  • May 21 – Primaries in Kentucky, Oregon
  • June 4 – Primaries in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota
  • July 15-18 – GOP convention in Milwaukee

Read more about Trump's complicated trial and political calendar.

5:57 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Judge to hear closing arguments today on bid by Meadows to move Georgia election case to federal court

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Jason Morris

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in the blue suit, during a hearing in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia. 
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in the blue suit, during a hearing in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia.  Lucy Luckovich

Witness testimony has concluded in former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ hearing in Georgia federal court, after several hours from Meadows himself, former Trump campaign lawyer Kurt Hilbert and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The judge will hear closing arguments from both sides shortly.

Before his testimony concluded, Raffensperger testified that he believed his January 2021 call with President Donald Trump was held on behalf of Trump’s campaign – undercutting Meadows’ argument that it was part of his role as a federal official. 

“It was a campaign call,” Raffensperger said.   

During Raffensperger’s testimony, prosecutors played portions of the call, including when Trump implored the Georgia secretary of state to help him with the election.   

“We spoke the truth,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said of his comments defending the integrity of Georgia’s elections during the call.   

CNN's Fabiana Chaparro, Macie Goldfarb, Morayo Ogunbayo, Jared Formanek, Shirin Faqiri contributed to this report.

5:25 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

First Fulton County defendant pleads not guilty in 2020 election interference case in Georgia

From CNN's Sara Murray and Jason Morris

President Trump's lawyer Ray Smith is seen inside of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta during an election hearing on December 3, 2020.
President Trump's lawyer Ray Smith is seen inside of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta during an election hearing on December 3, 2020. Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

Ray Smith, one of the 19 defendants in the election interference case in Fulton County, Georgia, has waived his arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty, according to a new court filing

Smith, a Trump campaign attorney, is the first defendant to enter a plea.

“It is counsel’s understanding that by filing this waiver of arraignment, prior to the arraignment date, that Mr. Smith and the undersigned counsel are excused from appearing at the arraignment calendar on September 6, 2023,” the filing states.

The remaining 18 co-defendants, including former President Donald Trump, are scheduled to be arraigned September 6, unless they waive their appearances.

Read more about Smith's not-guilty plea here.

4:54 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Georgia secretary of state didn’t return Mark Meadows’ call, saying it didn’t feel "appropriate"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Jason Morris

Raffensperger on the witness stand on Monday, August 28.
Raffensperger on the witness stand on Monday, August 28. Sketch by Lucy Luckovich

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he didn’t return a phone call from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in late 2020 because he “did not feel that it was appropriate” to speak with Meadows while then-President Donald Trump was still contesting Georgia’s election results.

Raffensperger also said that he did not return the call because Meadows “didn’t leave a phone number.”

Meadows texted Raffensperger in December 2020 asking the secretary of state to call the White House. “mr Secretary. Can you call the White House switchboard,” Meadows wrote on December 5, 2020, according to text messages he turned over to the House January 6 committee that were obtained by CNN. “Your voicemail is full.”

Raffensperger testified there was no federal role in the certification of Georgia’s election, which he oversees as the state’s top election official.

That testimony could hurt Meadows’ argument that the call was part of his federal duties and not on behalf of the Trump campaign. 

5:57 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Georgia secretary of state says Trump's phone call looking for more votes was political

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Jason Morris

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified Monday about the infamous phone call from then-President Donald Trump seeking election officials to "find" the nearly 12,000 votes needed to overturn Joe Biden's win in the Peach State.

Raffensperger, a Republican, testified there was no federal role in the certification of Georgia’s elections, which he oversees as the state’s top election official. Fulton County prosecutors asked if there was any role for the US president in certifying Georgia’s elections. Raffensperger replied there was none.

“It was a campaign call,” Raffensperger said.

Prosecutors are trying to rebut Meadows’ argument that he got involved in Georgia’s 2020 election as part of his federal duties as chief of staff and not on behalf of the Trump campaign, and Raffensperger's testimony could hurt that argument.

Raffensperger testified that only two dead people voted in Georgia in 2020 – not the 5,000 that Trump falsely claimed on the January 2021 call with Raffensperger.

Raffensperger also testified that he first tried to resist the call with Trump. “I told my deputy I don’t think this is in our best interest,” he said.  

“Outreach to this extent was extraordinary,” Raffensperger added.  

Read the full transcript and listen to Trump’s 2021 call with Georgia's secretary of state.

CNN's Fabiana Chaparro, Macie Goldfarb, Morayo Ogunbayo, Jared Formanek, Shirin Faqiri contributed to this report.

4:10 p.m. ET, August 28, 2023

Here's what happened during a busy day in the Donald Trump criminal cases

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand

The Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Monday, Aug. 28.
The Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Monday, Aug. 28. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A trial date was set Monday right in the middle of the 2024 presidential primary calendar for former President Donald Trump, while his former chief of staff took the stand in Georgia in what amounted to a mini-trial in the election subversion case there.

Here’s what to know from a busy and significant day in Trump's multiple trials:

  • Trial in the middle of primary season: Judge Tanya Chutkan’s announced trial date for the charges brought by the special counsel, March 4, is just one day before Super Tuesday when over a dozen states will hold their primary elections. A March trial for the former president in Washington, DC, over his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election will undoubtedly play a role in his run to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.
  • Mark Meadows takes the stand: A federal hearing in Georgia began with a surprising twist: Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows took the stand to testify in his own bid to move his case from state court to federal court. Such a move could end up with the charges being dismissed and change the entire tenor of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecution of Trump and 18 co-defendants.
  • Meadows denied election disruption allegation: During his testimony, Meadows denied one of the allegations in the indictment, saying he “did not ask” Trump White House aide John McEntee to write a memo about how to disrupt the certification of the election on January 6, 2021. Meadows was pressed by prosecutors on how the federal government had a role in a state’s determination of its election results. “There is a role for the chief of staff to make sure those campaign goals and objectives are implemented at the federal level,” Meadows testified.
  • Prosecutors plan to use Trump’s statements: The former president, his legal team and his political surrogates have repeatedly criticized the Justice Department, Chutkan and residents of Washington, DC, in online posts and media appearances. While there is no restriction on Trump’s ability to make those comments – despite a limited restriction on his ability to discuss specific evidence in the case – prosecutors made clear they will be taking what is said publicly into consideration when arguing to the judge. Chutkan – in closing Monday’s hearing – said she would be “watching carefully for anything that might affect that jury pool or poison that jury pool” in the lead-up to the March 4 trial date.