Trump Secures Another Win In Bids To Slow Criminal Prosecutions

Trump slows criminal prosecutions

On Wednesday, Donald Trump secured another victory in his campaign to slow down the criminal cases against him, as a Georgia appeals court agreed to hear his bid to disqualify the district attorney prosecuting him for attempting to overturn his election loss in the state.

This ruling extends the legal battle regarding a past romance between Fani Willis, Fulton County’s district attorney, and a former top deputy. Defense lawyers have utilized this relationship to try to derail the case.

The decision to hear the appeal before trial by the court means further delays in the case, one of four criminal prosecutions facing the Republican former president as he seeks to unseat Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 5 election.

Amy Lee Copeland, a former federal prosecutor in the state, stated, “The practical significance is we’re not going to have a trial in Georgia prior to the election.”

Florida postponement

This decision follows a federal judge in Florida, nominated to the bench by Trump, indefinitely postponing the start of his trial on charges of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House.

Furthermore, a federal case linked to Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election has stalled while the U.S. Supreme Court considers Trump’s assertion that former presidents are immune from prosecution for official acts taken while in office.

These recent developments suggest that Trump’s ongoing trial in New York related to hush money payments to a porn star before the 2016 election is likely the only case that will reach a jury before voters cast their ballots.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed the Senate on Wednesday that Washington had halted a shipment of weapons to Israel over the government’s plans to carry out an operation in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Bob Driscoll, a Washington-based defense lawyer who has represented people close to Trump, remarked, “This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The cases are all factually complex, legally novel, or both.”

If Trump wins the presidency, he could potentially order the Justice Department to drop the two federal cases against him once he takes office in January 2025. However, he does not have that option for the New York or Georgia cases, but legal experts say state prosecutors likely would not proceed while he is president.

An April Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 60% of registered voters thought it was important that Trump’s criminal trials take place before the election. A similar number of registered voters, including one in four Republicans, said they would not vote for Trump if a jury convicted him of a felony.

Challenge to wills

Trump and eight of his 14 co-defendants charged in the Georgia case have urged the appeals court to overturn a state judge’s March ruling allowing Willis to continue supervising the prosecution.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty, accused prosecutors of a politically motivated effort to damage his campaign. “The case should be dismissed, and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unjustified, unwarranted political persecution,” said Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead lawyer on the Georgia case.

A spokesperson for Willis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The appeal must be resolved before the case can move to trial. The exact timeline is uncertain, but it will likely take at least a few months for lawyers to file legal briefs and schedule arguments. The case could be assigned to the court’s April term, which would require a ruling by November 1, four days before the election.

Nathan Wade affair

Trump and the eight co-defendants moved to disqualify Willis after revealing that she was romantically involved with Nathan Wade, an outside lawyer she hired to help lead the investigation. Wade booked several vacations with Willis while he was being paid by her office, an arrangement the defense argued posed a conflict of interest.

Trump’s lawyer also argued that Willis improperly suggested the defendants and their lawyers had racial motivations. Both Willis and Wade are Black.

Willis and Wade have acknowledged having a relationship but said it began after Wade was hired to work on the case. Willis’ office has denied allegations of misconduct and said the relationship had no impact on the case.

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee ruled the relationship did not pose a conflict of interest but said it created an appearance of wrongdoing. McAfee said Willis’ office could remain on the case if Wade stepped aside, which he agreed to do.

McAfee later gave permission for Trump and his co-defendants to appeal his ruling before trial. Trump and the 14 co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other charges stemming from what prosecutors allege was a scheme to overturn Trump’s narrow defeat in Georgia in the 2020 election. Four others who had been co-defendants in the case have pleaded guilty in deals with the prosecutors. A trial date has not yet been set.