Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Georgia Appeals Court Halts Trump Election Interference Case

"This is what judicial corruption looks like," said one critic.

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday paused proceedings in the election interference case against former U.S. President Donald Trump and other defendants until an appellate panel determines whether the prosecuting district attorney should be disqualified for an alleged conflict of interest.

In a one-page ruling, the court stayed the trial pending the resolution of an appeal by Trump and some of his co-defendants asserting that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, should be removed because of her romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, whom she appointed special prosecutor for the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled in March that Willis could remain on the case if Wade resigned, which he did. Willis maintains there was nothing improper about their relationship.

The appellate court's stay means that McAfee will have to delay a decision on a motion filed by Trump's legal team arguing he should have executive immunity from prosecution. The right-wing U.S. Supreme Court—three of whose members were appointed by Trump—is expected to rule on the immunity issue in the coming weeks.

The case revolves around Trump's attempt to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia. Trump made a January 2, 2021 phone call in which he pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to "find 11,780 votes" in his favor, prompting Willis' investigation.

Willis charged Trump with 13 criminal counts for alleged violations of Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act related to his participation in a sprawling "criminal enterprise" aimed at overturning the election. A total of 19 people were initially charged; four co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have received punishments including fines, probation, and having to publicly apologize. They also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

According toThe Hill:

Oral arguments are tentatively scheduled for October, meaning the case likely will not proceed to trial until after the presidential election, where Trump is the Republican Party's presumptive nominee and is hoping to retake the White House and grind his cases to a halt. A trial date had not yet been selected.

The Georgia case is one of three federal and state criminal proceedings against Trump related to efforts to subvert the 2020 election and alleged mishandling of classified documents. Last month, Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments during the 2016 campaign to cover up alleged affairs.

Reacting to the stay, liberal lawyer and comedian Dean Obeidallah said on social media that "no one should be surprised that the GOP Supreme Court, Trump-owned Judge Aileen Cannon, or the GOP Georgia Court of Appeals are helping Trump."

"They are all Republicans and they are protecting their presidential nominee," he added. "This is what judicial corruption looks like!"

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