Georgia Appeals Court Halts Trump Election Interference Case

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Yves here. It is a sign of how deeply partisan news reporting has become, above all in matters Trump, that I feel compelled to point a few things out, as unpopular as that might be in some circles.

First, even Trump has due process rights. Fights over procedure, which can include getting seemingly strained arguments heard, are part and parcel for litigation. If you want a graduate course in motions pleading, have a look at our many posts on the Kentucky Retirement Systems case. It was filed year-end 2017 and still has not gotten to discovery (even though the trial court judge has recently cleared what looked like the last big hurdle, the defendants are trying to make an interlocutory appeal). Even in the tiny litigations I have sadly been party to, motions that lead to delay, whether delay is the intended effect or an unwanted by-product, are pervasive and thus are hard to see as unusual or irregular.

Second, the reason for the upset is that the appeals court has set a hearing date on the Trump action versus the continued role of Fani Willis as Fulton County prosecutor in his case for October. If the appeals court looked to be deliberately giving Trump a slot late relative to its current docketing, that would be legitimate grounds for considerable criticism. However, there is no indication in the account below that the court has set the hearing later than one would expect in the normal course of events.

And why the uproar? That this outcome has thrown a wrench in the political timing, of getting the case heard sooner. That is presumably for the two political motives we saw in action in the New York criminal case that Trump just lost: to keep his butt in a seat in court so he could not campaign, and hopefully to secure a victory that would dim his re-election chances.

Has no one heard the saying, “The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine”? Did they miss the “slowly” part?

Third, I am not enthusiastic about defenses of Willis. She failed to make the required disclosures of the gifts from her boyfriend. In the better-run state of California, at CalPERS alone, failure to make those disclosures is believed to have played a role in the recent departure of Chief Investment Officer Nichole Musicco and scandal for board member Theresa Taylor (who sadly stared it down despite having a background that would make it seem vanishingly unlikely that her oversight was an accident). Even though the disclosure lapse was not the basis for Trump action1, it is serious misconduct.

And as for allegations of unseemly behavior, since when does the White House get involved in state prosecutions? From Fox News:

….embedded in the filing [by a Trump-co-defendant] are invoices for the Law Offices of Nathan J. Wade [Willis’ former co-counsel on the case]. One invoice calls attention to “Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.”

Wade billed the county for a May 23, 2022, event described as “Travel to Athens; Conf with White House Counsel.” Wade charged $2,000 for eight hours at $250 an hour.

Several months later, Wade billed for “Interview with DC/White House” on Nov. 18, 2022. Wade again charged $2,000 for eight hours at $250 an hour, according to the documents.

There is no ‘splaining this away. Either Wade defrauded Fulton County by billing for meetings that never took place, or White House lawyers were meaningfully assisting in this case.

It is deeply saddening to see that coverage of these Trump cases is so wildly partisan, and attempts to counter that are too often demonized on tribal grounds.

By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday paused proceedings in the election interference case against former U.S. President Donald Trump and other defendants until an appellate panel determines whether the prosecuting district attorney should be disqualified for an alleged conflict of interest.

In a one-page ruling, the court stayed the trial pending the resolution of an appeal by Trump and some of his co-defendants asserting that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, should be removed because of her romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, whom she appointed special prosecutor for the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled in March that Willis could remain on the case if Wade resigned, which he did. Willis maintains there was nothing improper about their relationship.

The appellate court’s stay means that McAfee will have to delay a decision on a motion filed by Trump’s legal team arguing he should have executive immunity from prosecution. The right-wing U.S. Supreme Court—three of whose members were appointed by Trump—is expected to rule on the immunity issue in the coming weeks.


The case revolves around Trump’s attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia. Trump made a January 2, 2021 phone call in which he pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find 11,780 votes” in his favor, prompting Willis’ investigation.

Willis charged Trump with 13 criminal counts for alleged violations of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act related to his participation in a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the election. A total of 19 people were initially charged; four co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have received punishments including fines, probation, and having to publicly apologize. They also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

According toThe Hill:

Oral arguments are tentatively scheduled for October, meaning the case likely will not proceed to trial until after the presidential election, where Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee and is hoping to retake the White House and grind his cases to a halt. A trial date had not yet been selected.

The Georgia case is one of three federal and state criminal proceedings against Trump related to efforts to subvert the 2020 election and alleged mishandling of classified documents. Last month, Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments during the 2016 campaign to cover up alleged affairs.

Reacting to the stay, liberal lawyer and comedian Dean Obeidallah said on social media that “no one should be surprised that the GOP Supreme Court, Trump-owned Judge Aileen Cannon, or the GOP Georgia Court of Appeals are helping Trump.”

“They are all Republicans and they are protecting their presidential nominee,” he added. “This is what judicial corruption looks like!”

_____

1 I suspect because he lacked standing to make it a cause of action; presumably only the relevant government body could have taken it up.

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17 comments

  1. Carolinian

    On an intellectual level the arguments of articles like this one are beneath contempt. They even call it “lawfare”–meaning legal warfare–but when the other side uses the fine print to fight back they are all “waaaah!”

    The events in dispute took place almost four years ago. So all of these complaints about Trump’s supposed election interference and “assault on democracy” are themselves carefully timed to serve as election interference and the denial of democracy. If what Trump did is so terrible then why wasn’t it prosecuted earlier? I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that none of these cases would be happening if Trump had in fact decided not to run again. So that’s his real crime in the minds of his opponents.

    We seem to be living in an era of groupthink rather than actual think. No doubt the power of finding your views readily reinforced on the internet and television increases the tendency. Indeed the propagandists seem to be most upset about their media tools being turned against them and cry “misinformation.” But it’s all a smokescreen.

    Trump may not have been a good president but the hysteria has given us the far greater disaster of Biden. Perhaps even the establishment shills are starting to realize this.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. That quote at the end from the liberal lawyer and comedian is complete partisan hackery and highlights a distinct lack of intelligence, or willful ignorance, maybe both. Of course there are Republicans in the judicial system protecting their nominee. The reason they are doing that is because the other side ran judicial candidates with the expressed purpose that they would find something to get Trump on, even though there were no obvious crimes. Or at least not any obvious ones they were willing to go after him for – I would say assassinating Suleimani was a pretty obvious crime.

      Instead of accepting that actions have consequences, what’s good for the goose…, etc., they call the wahmbulance.

      Wake me up when someone decides to prosecute Bush and Cheney for their war crimes. As a start – there are plenty of others deserving of prosecution as well. Until then, all of this lawfare against Trump is just a stupid clown show.

      Reply
      1. Arkady Bogdanov

        I would add the Mike Reinoehl assassination/murder as a serious crime too. For those that do not remember- Trump bragged that they were going to get Reinoehl, and basically sent US Marshals out as a hit squad. Eyewitness testimonies stated that the US Marshals and local police rolled up and opened fire on Reinoehl without identifying themselves or issuing any warning. Reinoehl had stated in an interview that he want to turn himself in, but felt that he would be murdered by the police.
        Reinoehl was stalked (there were stitched together CC videos depicting this, including Reinoehl’s attempts to evade them) by two men and when one of them drew an Asp baton to assault Reinoehl, Reinoehl, who had a concealed carry permit, drew his weapon and fired, killing one of the men who was threatening him. This all took place during the Portland BLM protests, when groups like the Proud Boys were essentially bussed into Portland to intimidate and attack BLM protestors. Unlike Rittenhouse- Reinoehl had a very cut and dried self-defense claim, but of course he defended himself against the wrong people.

        Reply
    2. Louis

      Well said. As a former prosecutor and public defender I am appalled at the lawfare and I warned close friends that Trump will not be prosecuted before the election. Of course I was wrong about the Stormy Daniels prosecution, but that case is a stain on the US Legal System. How can any rational person trust prosecutors and our courts given the blatant shenanigans. If you placed the facts of the Bragg prosecution and the judges’ jury instructions, or lack thereof, in front of any 1st year law students (even leaving aside the appalling unconstitutional rulings from Judge Merchan on several motions and objections at trial) in a “blind” moot court exercise where the names of the parties are deleted I submit that 98% of those students would find the prosecution an egregious manufacturing of facts and an abuse of authority. Merchan should have issued a Directed Verdict of Acquittal, instead he and Alvin Bragg have sullied NY State jurisprudence. To Kevin O’Leary’s point, I would think twice about investing in NY.

      It sickens me that Americans’ partisanship have helped destroy the fundamentals of the legal system that was always flawed and imperfect to some degree, especially for minorities and the poor. We’re now prosecuting people based on whims of like or don’t like. The Alvin Bragg prosecution will be overturned on appeal. The other prosecutions are blatant lawfare and will not occur before the November elections, if at all. Where is the equal protection where Trump gets prosecuted on a documents case and Biden gets a pass? January 6 Congressional hearings are proven to be farce and a literal show trial production that deliberately suppressed key evidence favoring Trump.

      Sound like a Trump supporter, huh? No, I’m politically independent, historically (and formerly) Democratic-leaning. I despise the Democrats for this lawfare and the war-mongering. I will never vote for them again. The Biden Democrats are a clear and present danger to the Republic and the world. I am supporter of a fair and impartial judiciary and balanced, prudent prosecutorial discretion, principles that has been destroyed. And now the Democrats or shall I say the Dummocrats have the audacity to complain about delays? I told my friends that none of these cases would be brought to trial before November elections. I’m too disgusted to say, “I told you so.” There’s no pleasure in it.

      I’ve practically given up all hope of sanity in this country…. as we sleep walk into WW3 and potential nuclear holocaust.

      As a side note history won’t be kind to arrogant stooges like Willis and Bragg who became tools of the Democratic Party and the President responsible for mass Black incarceration, all for fame and fortune. They better hope they don’t suffer the fate of the former City of Baltimore DA; who was thrown to the wolves when no longer a useful idiot. Arrogance can get you hoisted on your own petard.

      Reply
    3. Ron Singer

      “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that none of these cases would be happening if Trump had in fact decided not to run again.”

      Inciting a mob to kill cops and overthrow the government is a right, not a crime. It’s in the Constitution!

      Reply
  2. JonnyJames

    I can’t be bothered to pay attention to the contrived MassMediaCartel Drama – their “partisan” reporting is for a reason: divide and distract. There is almost no rational, meaningful discourse in our public media and the sycophant-stenographers who pose as “journalists” are repulsive and pathetic.

    We can rearrange deck chairs, but the farce elections (As Vladimir Putin recently stated) won’t change a damn thing.

    I still can’t understand how folks can take this seriously, it’s Freak Show 2.0 – JB and DT every day for over 8 years

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Fighting over Trump allows the Dems to avoid talking about the things they should be talking about. Meanwhile for Trump it’s all an ego trip.

      For the Repubs–the confessed conservatives–it’s all about controlling the ball. Now the Dems are playing the same game. “Nothing will fundamentally change.”

      It could be that we Americans with our bloated vehicles and rabid consumerism deserve a comeuppance. If we’d leave the rest of the world alone you might roll your eyes at the whole thing. But right now lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

      Reply
      1. JonnyJames

        Yeah, but no matter who “wins” the Freak Show contest, the oligarchy always wins and very little substantive policy changes. The only public discourse allowed is the DT drama, the JB drama and emotional “wedge” issues to divide and distract: migrants, abortion, guns, LGBTQ+, etc.

        No talk of comprehensive health care system (even Richard Nixon proposed it 50 freakin’ years ago), no talk of reforming tax codes, no talk of the hardcore structural crises we all face. No talk of ceasing cash and military giveaways to Israel etc. Only xenophobic, Sino-phobic, Russo-phobic, racist anti-Palestinian nonsense. DT and JB can argue who will fund The Genocide of Palestine faster.

        IMO all these f-ers should be in prison, and not for the petty BS in the current lawsuits. As lyman alpha blob mentions above: Bush Jr., Cheney, Blair et al. are all making big money, while Julian Assange is tortured in max sec. prison. Justice for all eh

        Another irony: DT’s Consigliere, “Fat Mike” Pompeo wanted to put a hit out on Julian Assange.

        Reply
      2. Ron Singer

        “Meanwhile for Trump it’s all an ego trip.”

        Not exactly. He still needs to overthrow the government so he can pardon himself for trying to overthrow the government. Selling out to Big Oil for a billion certainly helps, and Project 2025 seems to be going rather well, wouldn’t you say?

        ‘Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason.’

        Reply
  3. Michael Fiorillo

    The merits and details of this case notwithstanding, Willis is a nasty piece of work: during the peak of the Obama administration’s attacks on public schools and public school teachers – far more comprehensive and destructive than under Betsy De Voss and Trump – Willis brought a RICO (!) case against Atlanta teachers and admins for juicing standardized test scores, test scores that had been weaponized and used to close public schools, attack teacher working conditions and promote charters and other forms of privatization. Teachers were jailed so that public education could be further discredited and attacked.

    Reply
  4. Ron Singer

    They don’t call them TRUMPED UP charges for nothing! Fake electors? Really? Storming the capital. Really? Dead police officers, hospitalized by the dozen? Come on! Anybody can see these are made-up ‘crimes’. If it were anybody but the Republican dictator – er, presidential – candidate, no charges were ever have been brought. Aileen Cannon has helped the prosecution every step of the way and they STILL can’t make a case. So what if Trump’s own lawyers have long since pled guilty (MAGA = make attorneys get attorneys). Biden is obviously twice as guilty for doing everything Trump has done and WORSE, and you don’t see HIM getting indicted.

    Reply
  5. Poggio

    Georgia Appeals Court Halts Trump Election Interference Case
    Posted on June 6, 2024 by Yves Smith.

    Additional considerations —
    “Whether delay is the intended effect or an unwanted by-product, are pervasive and thus are hard to see as unusual or irregular.”

    Yes “delay” is as common as gravity. The context for concern about some of these delays is “delay” in relation to electioneering deadlines.

    “However, there is no indication in the account below that the court has set the hearing later than one would expect in the normal course of events.”

    “No smoking gun”. It’s not bloody likely one would find an admission of wrong doing anent court administration (ex. Thomas, Alito, Roberts). The “indication” is in the delay itself. What does a given court “delay”, delay?

    Re: Fani Willis defense: “I am not enthusiastic about defenses of Willis. She failed to make the required disclosures of the gifts from her boyfriend. … Even though the disclosure lapse was not the basis for Trump action1, it is serious misconduct. 1 I suspect because he lacked standing to make it a cause of action; presumably only the relevant government body could have taken it up.”

    Willis failed the ethics disclosures that are “not the basis Trump action” because that action “lacked standing and “presumably only the relevant government body could have taken it up.”

    How very like the ethics crisis at SCOTUS. As matters of public record, Justices Thomas and Alito have failed to honor disclosure requirements. So far only relevant government body with standing -not Chief Justice Roberts- has failed to meaningfully consider these violations.

    This is another delay in the Blind Justice adjudication of a wide variety of rights. Some 29 SCOTUS decisions will be rolled out in the next few weeks in news cycles awash in Newspeak. Each of those decisions is mooted by the three Justices who have the appearance of impropriety.

    Reply

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