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Trump appeal in Georgia puts Fulton County election case deeper into limbo

Trump appeal in Georgia puts Fulton County election case deeper into limbo

Donald Trump’s New York state prosecution could be the only one of his four criminal cases that goes to trial, at least before the 2024 presidential election. And possibly ever.

That was already true heading into this week. But we received the latest indication of that possibility on Wednesday, when Georgia’s appeals court signaled that it will consider Trump and his co-defendants’ request to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

As a reminder, Judge Scott McAfee said in March that Willis could stay on the case if special prosecutor Nathan Wade, with whom she had a romantic relationship, stepped down. Wade did so — but that didn’t end the matter. Trump and his co-defendants are still seeking Willis’ disqualification and the wholesale dismissal of the state election interference case itself.

McAfee previously said that the case can move forward despite the defense appeal. And he has been ruling on pretrial issues in the meantime. But regardless of whether the case gets formally paused (as Trump’s federal election interference case did), this Georgia appeal puts the state prosecution further in doubt. The appeals court could, for example, say that McAfee didn’t go far enough in the defendants’ favor and kick Willis and her office off of the case. Such a decision would require reassigning the case to another office, which would unlikely be simple or speedy, to say nothing of what another prosecutor would do with the case.

The Georgia news follows U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s recent move in the classified documents case to postpone a trial indefinitely in Florida. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s pending decision on Trump’s immunity claim has been holding up a trial in the federal election interference case. If Trump wins the November presidential election, he’ll almost certainly rid himself of these two federal cases.

Presidents can’t dismiss or pardon state charges, but if Trump wins a second term, that would complicate any state cases moving forward while he’s in office. Trump’s three cases outside of New York all carry greater possibilities of prison time if he’s convicted, which wouldn’t be mandatory if he’s convicted in New York.

Even before this latest move in Georgia, a pre-election trial against Trump there seemed unlikely. No trial date has been set, and it’s hard to see one being set while this disqualification appeal looms.

Testimony in Trump’s New York trial for allegedly falsifying business records is set to resume Thursday.

The former president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee has pleaded not guilty in all four of his criminal cases.

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