Trump administration cases reach a critical milestone in two cities on the same day



CNN

Two cases of infringement It's Donald Trump His ability to overturn prosecutions and convictions against him if he returns to the White House reaches critical tests Thursday with major implications for the 2024 election.

In the latest significant twist in his many legal sagas, Trump is expected to show in court In New York for a procedural hearing ahead of the 2016 New York election related to payments to an adult film star. Trump wants the case dismissed, but a judge could confirm Thursday that it will continue until the end of March, marking the first time the fate of a former president and potential presidential candidate has been decided by a jury. Criminal case.

While Trump was in court in New YorkHe will be at the center of another drama involving a judge in Georgia Conduct of evidentiary hearings Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis is involved in an effort to disqualify him and toss out a broader fraud case against Trump and associates. President Joe Biden2020 election win in swing state Judge Scott McAfee has already said that Willis may be disqualified If she benefits financially from an affair with a co-worker, she hires a lawyer in the case.

Trump's legal filings in various cases have much in common: an attempt to block them from going to trial and delay accountability — at least until the next election. Trump has a particular interest in stopping the New York hush money and Georgia election interference cases because even a president with a sympathetic attorney general would find it difficult to intervene in ongoing cases, overturn convictions or even pardon himself. Excludes state crimes.

The high-profile hearings, nearly 900 miles away, speak to the extraordinary complexity of the 2024 election and Trump's legal quagmire, which now spans multiple presidential elections. Thursday wouldn't be the first time this week that a former president's legal predicament has played out in two separate cities. For example, on Monday, Trump appeared in court in Fort Pierce, Florida, for a hearing on indictments related to the withholding of classified documents, as his lawyers filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington based on his detailed demands for a full presidential election. Immunity to shield him from his actions after the 2020 election.

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Emphasizing his constant double duty in the courtroom and campaign trial, the former president gave a fiery speech Wednesday night in South Carolina ahead of the state's primary later this month — before heading to New York. “They're weaponizing law enforcement for high-level election interference — that's what they've done,” he said. “I am blamed for you, never forget,” Trump told his crowd. “I'm happy to do it.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, special counsel Jack Smith delivered his response to Trump's immunity claims to the Supreme Court, arguing that there is a vital public interest in seeing him prosecuted — amid claims of alleged political harassment, which Smith did not specifically address. A short calendar before the November election.

In another case, another judge in New York is expected to rule Friday on whether Trump must pay hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains uncovered in a civil fraud investigation targeting the former president, his sons and eldest sons. The Trump Organization. The ruling could eliminate Trump's ability to do business in New York, where he made his name.

The legal and political conflicts that seem to intensify with each passing week ensure that the current election will have divisive, long-term consequences, even as Trump's legal risks end, deepening the country's political divide and further damaging trust in elections and elections. Judicial institutions.

A dominant theme of the 2024 election campaign, the former president has made a habit of court appearances and history-making to express his disdain for the legal system and to frame the cases he faces as political persecution.

His presence has the potential to turn any sober legal trial into a circus, and many judges are exasperated as they struggle to keep him under control.

In New York, Judge Juan Mercant is expected to handle the remaining motions in the case, including whether Trump's lawyers should dismiss the case and whether the current, scheduled March 25 trial start date will stand.

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Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records. He allegedly did so to prevent adult film star Stormy Daniels from going public about a past affair that could sway voters. The former president, who denies the allegation, has pleaded not guilty in the case as he has all four of his guilty pleas.

Some legal experts consider the New York case the least of the four criminal threats the former president faces, and even if convicted, he is not expected to face prison time. Others, however, see the 2016 case as the first trigger of Trump's efforts to mislead voters and interfere in the conduct of US elections.

As the first criminal trial expected, the New York case could have even more important political implications. So far, polling evidence and results from early Republican primary races suggest that Trump's accusations have helped unite the party's grassroots voters behind his campaign. But the impact of Trump's legal problems with the wider electorate remains to be tested. Several recent polls suggest some voters may have second thoughts about him if he is convicted on Election Day.

In Georgia, McAfee is conducting an evidentiary hearing on allegations that Willis benefited financially from an affair with special prosecutor Nathan Wade after he hired Willis.

“The issues here are whether there was a relationship, whether the relationship was romantic or non-romantic in nature, when it developed and whether it continued,” McAfee said Monday. “That is only relevant because it is linked to the question of the existence and extent of any benefit expressed as a result of their relationship.”

Michael Roman, one of Trump's co-defendants, alleged that Willis and Wade benefited significantly from the case at the expense of taxpayers and had a significant conflict of interest. He cites financial statements from Wade's divorce proceedings to argue that after hiring Willis, he took Willis on lavish vacations. Roman is calling for Willis to be fired and the entire case to be thrown out, arguing that it has raised questions about fairness in the legal system and that the entire trial has been tainted by drama.

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But the district attorney's attorney accuses Roman of trying to divert attention from the underlying case. “The defense doesn't bring you the facts, the defense doesn't bring you the law, the defense brings you the rumors,” said attorney Anna Cross. “The court should not condone this practice.”

In an amicus brief filed with the court, a group of legal experts, former attorneys and law professors argued that even if all the allegations against Willis were true, “they should not be disqualified here. In fact they don't come close.

Willis has suggested the charges were racially motivated. “Regardless of a black man's accomplishments some people don't see him as worthy?” Willis spoke last month at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta, referring to Wade without mentioning him.

Speaking on CNN's “This Morning” in January, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael Moore, said the charges against Willis would not be “devastating” to the broader fraud case against Trump and his co-defendants. At the same time, however, switching attorneys could significantly delay the proceedings, which would work on some of Trump's goals.

At one point, CNN reported, Trump appeared more interested in attending Thursday's hearing in Georgia than the one in New York. .

If a judge in New York rejects Trump's impeachment motion, the former president is sure to claim political victimization. If Willis is not removed from the case in Georgia, he is sure to use the existence of the charges against him to argue that justice has been tainted and that those seeking to hold him accountable are corrupt. This has not only had the political effect of confirming Trump's plea to supporters that he is the victim of a witch hunt. It also reinforces his long-standing efforts to create a public narrative that any future conviction against him would be unjust.

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