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First Trump co-defendant pleads not guilty, refuses to turn on former president

 August 30, 2023

Ray Stallings Smith III, previously affiliated with former President Donald Trump's 2020 election campaign, has pleaded not guilty regarding allegations related to attempts to question the contest's outcome in Georgia, as Fox News reported.

Plea and Arraignment Details

On Monday, legal representatives for Smith submitted court documents, waiving the standard arraignment process and registering a plea of not guilty for each of the 12 counts included in the racketeering indictment led by District Attorney Fani Willis against former President Trump and others.

The core of this case revolves around accusations that Trump and 18 other co-defendants attempted to violate Georgia's racketeering laws in a purported effort to invalidate President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral win in Georgia.

The document communicates that with the waiver's submission, both Smith and his lawyer are not obligated to attend the arraignment set for Sept. 6, 2023.

This decision makes Smith the inaugural co-defendant in the Trump circle to issue a plea concerning the 2020 Georgia election lawsuit.

By waiving his arraignment, neither Smith nor his attorney will need to be present in court when other associated defendants make their pleas next week.

Overview of Charges

All accused, which includes former President Trump and 18 others, are faced with, at a minimum, one charge under the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations) Act.

They are also contending with a myriad of other accusations. This includes charges such as conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, conspiracy to forge documents, conspiracy to commit false statements, and two instances of soliciting a public officer to breach their oath.

The comprehensive 97-page indictment levies 12 distinct counts against Smith.

He is indicted explicitly for purportedly urging Georgia's state legislators to endorse an alternate group of electors who would then favor Trump in the Electoral College.

Smith's 2020 Involvement

In 2020, Smith, representing Trump's campaign interests, appeared at state legislative hearings. He firmly asserted that endorsing Biden's triumph in Georgia was untenable.

In his address to the Georgia State Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, Smith was forthright in his critique, suggesting that due to significant "irregularities" and purported failures on the part of state and county officials, the 2020 presidential election results could not be certified.

He continued to emphasize that the Georgia election was compromised and that the state legislators had the authority to select presidential electors if substantial election "irregularities" arose.

Smith, advocating for the Trump campaign, brought forward the assertion that the Georgia election protocols were bypassed in 2020. This argument, however, found no favor in court.

During these sessions, Smith also engaged with various witnesses introduced by Trump's legal counsel.

Current charges against him comprise three counts of urging a public official to breach their oath and two counts of providing false testimonies during these sessions.

Smith is additionally charged with six counts linked to an alleged plan to present an incorrect list of electors, which includes forgery, two counts of false declarations, and multiple conspiracy allegations.