Trump’s Georgia Appeal Set for Oct. 4, Dooming Pre-Election Trial

(Bloomberg) -- Arguments on Donald Trump’s appeal to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the Georgia election-interference case have been tentatively set for Oct. 4, making a trial before the US presidential election on Nov. 5 virtually impossible.

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The Georgia Court of Appeals set the date Monday in a one-page notice. A three-judge panel will review a March 15 decision by Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee that Willis’ romance with special prosecutor Nathan Wade created an appearance of impropriety. He said that required Willis or Wade to step aside. Wade resigned hours later.

McAfee is continuing to handle other matters in the racketeering case that accuses Trump and 14 remaining co-defendants of trying to overturn his Georgia loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The Georgia indictment is one of three remaining criminal cases that the former president faces, along with federal trials in Washington and Florida. None have trial dates yet.

Trump was found guilty May 30 in the first criminal trial of a former US president, a verdict that could reshape the political landscape five months before Election Day. Jurors in New York convicted him of 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment to an adult-firm star in an effort to influence the 2016 election.

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McAfee oversaw hearings to determine whether Willis should be disqualified for hiring Wade to run the Trump case, paying him $650,000 and taking vacations with him. Trump and several co-defendants sought to dismiss the indictment or remove Willis, Wade and the DA’s office, arguing that she had a personal stake in the outcome of the case.

In his March 15 ruling, McAfee criticized Willis, saying an “odor of mendacity” hung over the case and an outsider could “reasonably” think that Willis was “not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences.” He found the romance created an appearance of impropriety rather than a conflict of interest that required her removal.

A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment.

(Updates with Willis spokesperson declining to comment.)

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