Georgia court puts election manipulation case against Trump on hold

Barely a week after Donald Trump was found guilty in the New York hush money trial, another of the criminal proceedings against the former US president has been put on hold for an extended period of time. An appeals court in the state of Georgia ordered on Wednesday that the proceedings on the criminal charges of illegal election manipulation be suspended indefinitely due to a dispute over the chief prosecutor handling the case.

Trump's defense team wants to have chief prosecutor Fani Willis removed from the case. The appeals court will consider the Trump camp's request and has scheduled a hearing for October 4. At the same time, the court ordered that the election manipulation case will not be taken up again until it has made its decision on Willis.

This makes it almost certain that there will be no trial against Trump in Georgia before the presidential election on November 5. Despite his conviction in New York, Trump is expected to run again for the Republicans against incumbent Joe Biden of the Democrats.

Trump is facing charges in Georgia for his attempts to retroactively overturn his defeat to Biden in the 2020 election. Biden won this southern state at the time, which was a key factor in his overall victory in the election.

Preparations for the trial in Georgia against Trump and more than a dozen other defendants had already come to a standstill in recent months due to the dispute over the lead prosecutor. Willis had had an intimate relationship with a special investigator entrusted with the case. Trump and several of his co-defendants are therefore demanding that she be removed due to bias.

However, a judge in March simply ruled that the special prosecutor could no longer be involved in the case, but that Willis could. The defense then appealed to the appeals court.

Trump and his associates are accused by prosecutors in Georgia of, among other things, conspiracy to commit forgery and making false statements. The charges are based in part on a law against organized crime.

The case revolves, among other things, around the now famous phone call between the ousted president and Georgia's election official Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump asked him to “find” the 11,780 electoral votes needed to win the southern state.

Along with Trump, 18 of his allies were charged in Georgia, including his former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. However, four of the co-defendants have already pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors, thus avoiding possible prison sentences.

In his legal disputes, Trump is using delaying tactics to postpone trials and verdicts until after the election if possible. In the hush money case, however, this tactic was in vain: the jury found the former president guilty last Thursday of covering up the hush money payment of $130,000 to former porn actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election by falsifying business documents.

The judge plans to announce the sentence in the case on July 11. Trump could face a prison sentence, but probation or a fine is considered more likely. The 77-year-old right-wing populist is allowed to run for president despite his conviction.

In addition to the case in Georgia, two other criminal charges are pending against Trump – but in these two cases too, it is completely unclear when the trials could begin.

One of these cases also concerns Trump's massive attempts to manipulate the election after his defeat in 2020 – the lawsuit in a federal court in Washington relates, among other things, to Trump's role in the storming of the Capitol in January 2021. In the second case, the ex-president is accused in a federal court in the state of Florida of taking secret government documents to his private property.