Justice: Success for Trump: Trial in Georgia continues to be delayed

Since last week, Donald Trump has been a convicted criminal. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidate has been quite successful in delaying further criminal proceedings.

The Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has achieved another legal success in the US state of Georgia. The responsible appeals court has temporarily frozen the election fraud proceedings against the former president, who is seeking a second term in the White House in November. Before the case can continue, a ruling must be made on whether the lead prosecutor can continue her investigation, the court said.

The three appeals judges – all appointed by Republicans – have until March 2025 to decide on the case. A first hearing is scheduled for October. It is therefore extremely unlikely that the trial in Georgia will begin before the presidential election in the fall.

Public prosecutor in focus

Lawyers for Trump and other defendants accuse prosecutor Fani Willis of illegally profiting financially from a relationship with another prosecutor in the case, Nathan Wade. Wade was overpaid for his position and invited Willis to go on luxury vacations together, they say. Willis denies this.

In March, the judge in charge, Scott McAfee, ruled that the evidence provided by the opposing side was not sufficient to prove that the prosecutor had a conflict of interest. However, Wade withdrew from the proceedings because of what McAfee identified as an “appearance of impropriety”. Trump's side then filed an appeal, which the court in charge granted in May. However, Judge McAfee initially allowed the proceedings to continue in his courtroom while the appeals court's ruling was still pending.

Trump and several other defendants are facing charges in Georgia for their attempts to manipulate and reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in the state. The Republican lost to Democrat Joe Biden at the time. He is accused of trying to change the election result retrospectively, including by putting pressure on political officials at the federal level and in states such as Georgia.

Delay plays into Trump’s hands

The interim decision of the appeals court has put the proceedings on hold for the time being. Once the three judges have made their decision, this can then be appealed before the state Supreme Court. If Willis is removed from the case, the proceedings could collapse completely. It is also unclear what would happen if Trump were to return to the White House after the US presidential election in November. The Republican is already pursuing a fairly successful delaying tactic – and not just in Georgia.

After Trump was found guilty in New York last week of illegal campaign financing, the outcome of the two other criminal cases against him is uncertain, as is the case in Georgia. His lawyers have managed to delay them with legal maneuvers.

In Florida, the start of the trial in the affair surrounding the taking of secret government documents has been postponed indefinitely. A decision by the US Supreme Court is still pending in the election fraud case in Washington. The Supreme Court must decide whether Trump is immune from prosecution in the case. This in turn is likely to have an impact on the proceedings in Georgia and Florida. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, is also mostly made up of judges who were put into office by the Republicans.

No legal hurdle in the election campaign

Legally speaking, Trump can run for president despite the – not yet final – conviction in New York. According to the constitution, candidates only have to be US citizens by birth, be at least 35 years old and have lived in the US for at least 14 years. Trump meets these criteria. He could run for election even if he were in prison.

The sentence in New York will be announced on July 11. However, it is considered unlikely that Trump will actually end up in prison. He benefits from the fact that he has never been convicted in a criminal case before. The judge could also suspend the sentence, order house arrest, impose a fine or require the former president to do community service. His lawyer has already announced that he will appeal the verdict.