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Georgia Judge Isn’t Sure Trump Can Be Tried If He Wins White House

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


The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s case in Fulton County, Georgia, voiced concerns earlier this month about the possibility of him being tried in his racketeering case if he were to win the next year’s presidential election.

The Washington Examiner reported that Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee asked during a proceeding, “If your client does win election in 2024, could he even be tried in 2025?”

McAfee posed his question “over motions from Trump and his co-defendants to dismiss charges in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case,” the outlet reported.

Steve Sadow, the attorney representing Trump and making his first appearance in the case since the former president’s indictment in Georgia in August, argued that he believes Trump cannot be tried until after potentially serving a four-year term in office if he wins next year’s election.

“The answer to that is, I believe that under the Supremacy Clause and his duties as president of the United States, this trial would not take place at all until after he left the term of office,” Sadow replied.

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The Examiner noted further: If the judge were to accept Sadow’s argument, that would mean Trump’s Georgia trial would be delayed until at least 2029 in the event of a Trump victory over President Joe Biden. Only Trump would have his trial postponed, however; Sadow said the other co-defendants in the racketeering case would receive no such delay.

Fulton County prosecutors have asked McAfee for an August start to the trial against Trump and his 14 remaining co-defendants, which was the wider topic of McAfee’s question on Friday. The judge said he wouldn’t issue an order setting a concrete trial date until at least early 2024.

That said, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the charges, said in November that Trump’s trial could stretch beyond the 2024 election and into early 2025.

I believe in that case there will be a trial. I believe the trial will take many months,” Willis said during an interview Tuesday at the Washington Post Live’s Global Women’s Summit. “And I don’t expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025.”

The trial’s start date has yet to be announced. Trump was charged along with 18 other co-defendants, four of whom have already accepted plea deals.

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 this week, 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.”

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.

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Willis has faced a great deal of scrutiny for bringing charges against the former president, including from those on the far left.

Writing in Jacobin, London-based writer Amos Barshad cited a couple of cases that Willis charged under the state’s RICO statutes, including former President Donald Trump and two Atlanta-based rappers, to make his argument.

“Known for prosecuting Donald Trump on election subversion charges, Atlanta DA Fani Willis is using another high-profile RICO case involving rapper Young Thug to boost her image. But critics say her popularity is obscuring the wrongful nature of the case,” Barshad began.

He explained that rapper Lil Duke, whose real name is Martinez Arnold, flew to Atlanta on May 9, 2022, from Los Angeles, and traveled to the home of longtime friend and collaborator, superstar rapper Young Thug, whose name is Jeffrey Williams.

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Later that day, police raided Williams’ home and arrested both men along with 26 others. They were indicted by Willis who alleged that YSL, which is a rap group and record label that Williams created, was a criminal organization instead. “The indictment stated that Arnold’s participation in YSL amounted to a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. The penalty for violating RICO in Georgia is a prison sentence between five and twenty years,” Barshad wrote.

He added:

Willis has become a nationally recognized name thanks both to the YSL case and a concurrent RICO case: the prosecution of former president Donald Trump on election subversion charges. The Washington Post proclaimed Willis’s actions in the latter case could “save democracy.” But defense attorneys working the YSL case say that as Willis is embraced by the national media for her pursuit of Trump, the local people caught in her legal system — people like Arnold — are left harmed.

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