During a recent proceeding in Fulton County, Georgia, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee expressed concerns about the possibility of trying Donald Trump in his racketeering case if he were to win the presidential election in 2024. The Washington Examiner reported that Judge McAfee raised the question while considering motions from Trump and co-defendants to dismiss charges in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case. Attorney Steve Sadow, representing Trump, argued that, if elected in 2024, Trump could not be tried until after completing a potential four-year term in office.
“The answer to that is, I believe that under the Supremacy Clause and his duties as president of the United States, this trial would not take place at all until after he left the term of office,” Sadow responded.
The Examiner noted further: If the judge were to accept Sadow’s argument, that would mean Trump’s Georgia trial would be delayed until at least 2029 in the event of a Trump victory over President Joe Biden. Only Trump would have his trial postponed, however; Sadow said the other co-defendants in the racketeering case would receive no such delay.
Fulton County prosecutors have asked McAfee for an August start to the trial against Trump and his 14 remaining co-defendants, which was the wider topic of McAfee’s question on Friday. The judge said he wouldn’t issue an order setting a concrete trial date until at least early 2024.
Meanwhile, a former federal prosecutor has commented on what she finds to be a “perplexing” legal move by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in the case against Donald Trump.
Willis had initially scheduled Trump’s trial on racketeering charges, related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, for August 5, 2024. This would likely extend the trial beyond the Election Day on November 5 of the same year.
According to Newsweek, former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance finds the proposed August 5 start date “a little perplexing.” She suggests that there might be an opportunity to have Trump on trial earlier in the year, especially considering the possibility of delaying Trump’s trial for allegedly hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as suggested by Judge Aileen Cannon.
Vance, in her commentary on her Civil Discourse blog, expresses curiosity about how Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee will handle Willis’s August 5 request.
“With Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida showing signs of being less than committed to her May trial schedule, there might be some room for an earlier date in Georgia, which makes the timing of Willis’ request a little perplexing,” Vance wrote, per Newsweek. “The Mar-a-Lago case is straightforward, and it’s hard to imagine it taking more than several weeks, at the outside, to try. We may gain some insight Friday on when Judge McAfee wants to try his case.”
Willis told the Washington Post’s Live’s Global Women’s Summit on November 13 that she believes Trump’s trial will extend beyond Election Day.
“I believe the trial will take many months. And I don’t expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025,” Willis said. “I don’t, when making decisions about cases to bring, consider any election cycle or an election season.”
If Donald Trump secures victory in the presidential election next year, he would have various options to potentially delay or dismiss the trials. These options could include issuing self-pardons or arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that the legal proceedings infringe on his presidential duties, asserting immunity. New York University law professor Stephen Gillers suggested to Newsweek that the Supreme Court would likely rule to postpone the trials until after Trump leaves office, potentially at the age of 82.