All Trump Criminal Cases Hit Critical Juncture This Week

Much has changed in the four criminal indictments against former President Donald Trump since he was first charged, and this week all of those cases are set to take a turn.

In New York, where President Trump has already attended two civil trials this year, a criminal trial may begin next month.

Meanwhile, a federal judge may delay the May 20 trial in the case alleging the former president mishandled classified documents.

In Washington, President Trump’s attorneys are seeking to delay another case related to his actions on Jan. 6, which could pick up again any day if they lose a Supreme Court bid.

Then in Georgia, a judge will hold an evidentiary hearing Thursday, during which embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis could face disqualification if allegations about her relationship with a prosecutor she hired are true.

Trial Next Month?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had brought the first case against President Trump last year, alleging he falsified business documents to pay off an adult actress alleging an affair.

The investigation arose out of claims made by Michael Cohen, one-time personal attorney to President Trump. Mr. Cohen later turned sharply against his former boss, and made public allegations that also led to a civil fraud case against President Trump that a judge is set to rule on this week.

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President Trump was charged with 34 counts last April, and the case was originally set to go to trial on March 25. However, President Trump would be indicted three more times that year, with a federal judge in Washington setting a March 4 trial date in a separate case.

The Manhattan case was expected to be delayed, according to the district attorney. For a time, experts had predicted this might be the last of the four cases to go to trial.

But the Washington case has since been removed from the judge’s calendar.

New York Judge Juan Merchan will hold a scheduling conference this week to clarify the timetable for the case, which could resume and go to trial in March.

That ruling is set to come Thursday.

Major Hearing on Thursday

Simultaneously on Thursday, a Fulton County judge is holding an evidentiary hearing that could see the Fulton County District Attorney disqualified.

A disqualification would not be the end of the case, which charges President Trump and 14 others for alleged racketeering in their challenge of the 2020 election results, but it could significantly delay the case while a state board appoints a new prosecutor, who may then decide to pursue different charges or drop the case.

The allegations, which arose out of one defendant’s motion to disqualify filed on Jan. 8, are personal in nature.

Among other things, attorney Ashleigh Merchant, representing defendant Michael Roman, claimed that Ms. Willis had personally and financially benefited in the case by appointing as special prosecutor Nathan Wade, with whom she was having a romantic relationship, and that they went on several “lavish” vacations together.

The allegations seem to rise out of claims made to Ms. Merchant by an attorney who represented Mr. Wade in his recent divorce. At the time the divorce proceedings began in 2021, he was still married but already in a relationship with Ms. Willis, they alleged.

Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade have also been subpoenaed to testify, as well as several other attorneys and staffers in the district attorney’s office. She has acknowledged a personal relationship, but Mr. Wade claimed in an affidavit that the “personal” relationship began in 2022, after he had already been hired.

Ms. Merchant claims she has evidence in the form of witness testimony to the contrary, and that they were romantically involved as early as 2019, and that Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade had also lived together at one point.

Several other defendants joined the motion or filed other motions to disqualify Ms. Willis based on prejudicial behavior, but the judge said the only allegation that warranted an evidentiary hearing was the nature of the relationship, and it was clear grounds for disqualification if true.

Trump Hands Supreme Court Another Case

The Supreme Court is already deliberating whether President Trump will stay on the ballot after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled he was disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment as an alleged insurrectionist, and on Monday attorneys for President Trump handed the high court a second case.

This time, they are seeking a stay of the Washington case, which charges President Trump with four counts of conspiracy and obstruction for his actions on Jan. 6.

The request is due to an order issued by the federal appeals court that rejected President Trump’s claim of presidential immunity.

The appeal had put the case in limbo since early December and was likely to continue unresolved after the ruling for another 45-day period when President Trump could petition for a rehearing, and then another 90 days as President Trump sought a rehearing from the whole bench if his defense was still rejected.

However, the appeals court specified that any rehearing requests would not stop the court from issuing its mandate—sending the case back to district court and kicking off the pretrial schedule again—and that President Trump must appeal to the Supreme Court by Feb. 12 in order to for the appeals court to continue to withhold its mandate.

President Trump’s attorneys argued in an appeal to the Supreme Court that the procedure was improper, asking it to stay any lower court proceedings in the event of a petition for a rehearing in lower court or petition for review before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had previously rejected a request by prosecutors to review the presidential immunity defense, letting things play out in the appellate court first.

Another Delay?

In the Southern District of Florida, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is set to rule on President Trump’s motion to adjourn some pretrial deadlines.

If granted, prosecutors say the case could be delayed “indefinitely.”

The judge has already acknowledged that with the vast amounts of classified information the parties are litigating, a trial delay is entirely possible.

The trial was set for May 20, and no new deadline was ordered even after the judge made the acknowledgment last November, resetting some interim deadlines. The parties presented updates before the court in January, but no new trial date was announced then either.

President Trump’s attorneys are asking for upcoming deadlines to be halted for at least a month as they review new evidence produced in discovery, which they say may change their strategy.

In that motion, however, they also previewed several motions to dismiss, which they will file on Feb. 22 and could kick off a delay pattern similar to that seen in the other federal criminal case in Washington.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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