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Willis Move Against Trump Sets Off Alarm Bells

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A former federal prosecutor has weighed in on what she described as a “perplexing” legal move Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis just made in her case against Donald Trump.

Previously, Willis scheduled Trump’s trial on racketeering charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state for Aug. 5, 2024, which means Trump’s trial will almost certainly extend beyond Election Day, which is Nov. 5 of next year.

As reported by Newsweek, “Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance said that Willis’s proposed August 5 start date is ‘a little perplexing,’ given that there may be an opportunity to put Trump on trial earlier in the year, especially as Judge Aileen Cannon might delay Trump’s trial for allegedly hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.”

Writing on her Civil Discourse blog, Vance said she’ll be watching to see what Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee does with Willis’ Aug. 5 request.

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“With Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida showing signs of being less than committed to her May trial schedule, there might be some room for an earlier date in Georgia, which makes the timing of Willis’ request a little perplexing,” Vance wrote, per Newsweek. “The Mar-a-Lago case is straightforward, and it’s hard to imagine it taking more than several weeks, at the outside, to try. We may gain some insight Friday on when Judge McAfee wants to try his case.”

Willis told the Washington Post’s Live’s Global Women’s Summit on November 13 that she believes Trump’s trial will extend beyond Election Day.

“I believe the trial will take many months. And I don’t expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025,” Willis said. “I don’t, when making decisions about cases to bring, consider any election cycle or an election season.”

If he wins the presidential election next year, Trump would have a range of options to either delay the trials or make them go away, such as pardoning himself. He could also argue before the U.S. Supreme Court that he has immunity and that the cases are interfering with his ability to serve as president, Newsweek reported.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers told the outlet that the Supreme Court probably would rule to delay the trials until he’s out of office when he’s 82.

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“Of course, as with many things Trump, we lack a precedent,” Gillers said. “But I believe that the Supreme Court would order a delay of any state criminal prosecution of a sitting president until the end of his term, regardless of when the alleged crime occurred.”

Trump’s legal teams have been attempting to push his various trials — in New York, Washington, D.C., Florida, and Georgia — beyond the 2024 election. In her remarks at the Post’s event, however, Willis said the presidential election had no bearing on her decision to charge the man who is, by far, the leading GOP candidate for the nomination.

“I don’t, when making decisions about cases to bring, consider any election cycle or an election season,” she said. “That does not go into the calculus. What goes into the calculus is: This is the law. These are the facts. And the facts show you violated the law. Then charges are brought.”

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Axios noted that Trump already faces the prospect of two criminal trials set to begin in March, around the time of the Super Tuesday primaries.

Willis has faced a great deal of scrutiny for bringing charges against the former president, including from those on the far left. And the former president himself has accused her and other Democratic prosecutors, as well as the Biden administration, of filing charges against him as a means of interfering with the 2024 election.

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