Georgia Appeals Court Puts Trump Election Case on Ice

June 6, 2024 by Dan McCue
Georgia Appeals Court Puts Trump Election Case on Ice
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA —The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday temporarily halted proceedings in the 2020 election interference case against former President Donald Trump and several co-defendants while it reviews a lower court decision allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue prosecuting the case.

The three-judge appellate court panel is now tentatively scheduled to hear arguments in a bid to disqualify Willis on Oct. 4.

Because the hearing will take place in what is technically part of its August 2024 term, a decision in the case has to be rendered by March 14, 2025. Whatever the outcome, it is likely the losing party will appeal the case to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The net result is that it will now be effectively impossible for a trial on the matter to even begin before the November election, in which Trump will be facing his successor, President Joe Biden, in a bid for a second term.

The state appeals court’s decision is the latest twist in a case that became something of a soap opera this past February when GOP operative Michael Roman accused Willis of having an “improper” affair with Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the case, and financially benefiting from the relationship. 

Trump and several of his allies later joined the case as plaintiffs

During subsequent evidentiary hearings on their claims, both Wade and Willis admitted to having had a romantic relationship, but said it started after he was hired and that they took steps — like splitting the cost of shared travels — to ensure their relationship did not become an issue.

Willis went on to explain she reimbursed Wade for her share of the trips in cash, and both testified that their romance ended during the summer of 2023, long before Roman made his claims against them.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee rejected the plaintiff’s request to disqualify Willis from the case, but ruled that in order for her to stay on, Wade would have to step down from his position, something he did within hours of the ruling.

However, Judge McAfee did not stop there; he went on to offer a scathing rebuke of Willis’s conduct, calling it a “tremendous lapse in judgment.”

He also went on to say “an odor of mendacity remains” around the case.

Trump faces 10 charges in the racketeering case brought against him by Willis and has pleaded not guilty.

He and 18 alleged co-conspirators are accused of trying to carry out an illegal scheme to cast doubt about the election results in Georgia and have them thrown out. If they’d succeeded, Trump would have remained president.

To date, four of Trump’s co-defendants in the case have pleaded guilty after reaching plea deals with Georgia prosecutors.

Just last week, Trump was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York, an historic jury decision that made him the first former president to be found guilty of a crime. 

Trump has vowed to appeal that decision. In the meantime, he is scheduled to be sentenced in New York on July 11, just four days before the Republican National Convention.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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