Trump secures another win in bids to slow criminal prosecutions

FILE PHOTO: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis attends a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March 1, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Alex Slitz/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump notched another win in his campaign to slow the criminal cases against him on Wednesday, when a Georgia appeals court agreed to hear his bid to disqualify the district attorney prosecuting him for trying to overturn his election loss in the state.

The ruling prolongs the legal battle over a former romance between Fani Willis, Fulton County’s district attorney, and a onetime top deputy, a relationship defense lawyers have used to try to derail the case.


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

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

The decision came a day after a federal judge in Florida nominated to the bench by Trump indefinitely postponed the start of his trial on charges of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House.

A federal case related to Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election has also been stalled while the U.S. Supreme Court weighs Trump’s assertion that former presidents are immune from prosecution for official acts taken while in office.

Taken together, recent developments have made it far more likely that Trump’s ongoing trial in New York related to hush money payments to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election is the only case that will reach a jury before voters cast their ballots.

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

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

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