Trump Almost Certainly Won’t Go on Trial in Georgia This Year. Here’s Why.

Trump Almost Certainly Won’t Go on Trial in Georgia This Year. Here’s Why.


With a one-page order, the Georgia Court of Appeals on Monday made it all the more likely that Donald J. Trump will not face a criminal trial in the state before he faces off against President Biden in the November election.

The appellate court’s order tentatively set Oct. 4 for oral arguments over whether Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, should be disqualified from prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against Mr. Trump and a number of his allies. That suggests that the matter almost certainly will not be resolved in time for a trial to start before the election.

While the court does not have to hear arguments on the appeal, lawyers for Mr. Trump and another defendant said they would ask it to do so. Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, said it was “pretty highly likely” that the court would agree to oral arguments, given the complexity of the issues.

The delay in setting a trial date represents a major victory for Mr. Trump. If he is elected to a fresh term in the White House, his lawyers will very likely argue that a sitting president should not be subject to a criminal trial in state court, and that any trial in Georgia should be delayed until he leaves office.

Mr. Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts in a New York criminal case related to his efforts to falsify documents to hide a sexual encounter with a porn star before his successful 2016 presidential run. A trial date has yet to be set in his criminal case in Georgia, which involves allegations of interfering with the 2020 presidential election. Nor have trial dates been set in federal cases against him that are pending in Florida and Washington.

Last August, Mr. Trump and a number of his supporters were charged in Georgia in a sweeping racketeering indictment accusing them of seeking to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. Defense lawyers have since filed a flurry of motions challenging the indictment.

The case was knocked off course significantly in January, when lawyers for Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer who is among the defendants, accused Ms. Willis, the district attorney, of creating an untenable conflict of interest by engaging in a romantic relationship with a subordinate. Ms. Willis acknowledged the relationship but said it had not started until after she hired the subordinate, Nathan J. Wade.

In March, Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court allowed Ms. Willis to stay on the case if Mr. Wade stepped down, which he did.

But defense lawyers appealed the decision, and Ms. Willis’s fate is now in the hands of a three-judge appellate court. All three of the judges, who were randomly selected to hear the appeal, were appointed by Republican governors.



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