Trump Scores Major Victory in Georgia After RICO Case Delay


Former President Donald Trump achieved a significant victory this week after the Georgia Court of Appeals paused a comprehensive racketeering indictment against him, a case initiated by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. This decision implies that it will be nearly impossible for the case to proceed to trial before the November presidential election.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing, set for early October, to consider an effort by Trump and seven other co-defendants to disqualify Willis from prosecuting the case against the former president over his alleged attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a dinner with members of the group Conserve the Culture at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The following day, the appeals court announced that the case will be paused until a panel of judges decides on whether Willis should be disqualified. A decision is expected by March 2025, although it could come sooner.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had initially allowed the proceedings in his courtroom to continue as the appeals court reviewed an appeal of his decision to permit Willis to remain on the case.

Trump and seven other co-defendants have sought to disqualify Willis from the case due to her romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, the former special prosecutor she appointed to handle the case. The defendants argue that Willis financially benefited from the relationship with Wade, who, according to defense attorneys, paid for several vacations they took together.

In March, after several hearings where lawyers for Trump and his co-defendants presented their case against Willis and Wade, McAfee ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Willis financially benefited from the relationship. However, he noted that their relationship left an “odor of mendacity” so strong that either Willis or Wade needed to step down. Wade resigned on the same day as McAfee’s ruling.

Questions remain regarding the defendants who did not join Trump’s and the other co-defendants’ appeal to disqualify Willis. The appeals court technically only paused the cases of Trump and co-defendants Mike Roman, David Shafer, Robert Cheeley, Mark Meadows, Cathy Latham, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Clark, and Harrison Floyd.

The remaining defendants who were not part of the disqualification appeal include former Trump campaign attorney John Eastman, Ray Smith, Misty Hampton, Trevian Kutti, Stephen Lee, and Shawn Still.

Attorney John Eastman appears during his arraignment in Maricopa County Superior, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Phoenix. Eastman pleaded not guilty on Friday to conspiracy, fraud and forgery charges for his role in the effort to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in Arizona to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. (Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

Eastman told the Truth Voices on Thursday evening that his attorney plans to file an appeal on First Amendment grounds by Friday. The former Trump attorney said he welcomed the stay by the appeals court that put the cases of the nine other defendants, including Trump’s, on hold.

“The [Georgia] Court of Appeals has taken up the disqualification motion. We look forward to taking up the other appeals of our First Amendment claims as well. But if it rules that DA Willis is disqualified, that case will get assigned to either another county or another attorney or special prosecutor, and we fully expect such a person would take a new look at the appropriateness of this unprecedented RICO charge against political opponents,” Eastman said.

Eastman is also appealing McAfee’s refusal to dismiss two counts alleging false statements to Georgia legislators, though he is not part of the group that appealed to disqualify Willis.

Trump, who was found guilty in New York last week on 34 counts of falsifying business records, told reporters on Wednesday that he thinks “we’re doing very well” regarding his various legal battles.

“We had a big thing happen in Georgia today,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Willis’s team plans to appeal McAfee’s previous decision to dismiss six counts in the indictment due to lack of specificity, including two counts against Eastman and three counts against Trump.

A spokesperson for Willis’s office said they could not comment on the appeals court order, according to CNN. A source told the Truth Voices that Willis can ask the appeals court to expedite its decision on this matter, but otherwise, the district attorney has limited options. A spokesperson for Willis’s office did not immediately respond to the Truth Voices‘s request for comment.

Trump’s recent victory in Georgia primarily revolves around delays in his criminal proceedings. He’s also seeing positive progress in Florida in the case accusing him of keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House. In Florida, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon mentioned she would hold a hearing on June 21 to determine if special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment to oversee the case was proper. She also seems open to holding a hearing to allow Trump to put investigators under oath so his attorneys can question them on various constitutional matters related to the Florida indictment.

Politically, Trump is also performing well in Georgia, despite his 2020 election loss there and his mug shot taken at the Fulton County Jail last August. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week shows Trump leading President Joe Biden 49% to 45% in the state, despite half of Georgia voters agreeing with his conviction in New York.

A Fulton County grand jury in August indicted Trump and 18 others, accusing them of participating in a broad plan to illegally attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four defendants have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors, but Trump and the others have pleaded not guilty.

Kaelan Deese
Kaelan Deese
Supreme Court reporter covering the latest happenings at the nation's highest court and the legal issues surrounding Second Amendment rights, abortion, and religious liberties. He previously wrote breaking news as a fellow for The Hill during the 2020 election cycle. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications program in 2019.

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