OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A prominent legal analyst believes that former President Donald Trump’s RICO case in Fulton County, Ga., could be in jeopardy as his legal team continues to appeal various court rulings and seek delays in other cases.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, analyst John Malcolm, who is a former federal prosecutor, said that if the appeals court in Washington, D.C., rules that Trump is protected by presidential immunity for actions taken about opposing the 2020 election results, the case in Georgia “largely collapses.”
Malcolm, who currently serves as vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government at the Heritage Foundation, was nominated by the then-president in 2019 to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, Newsweek reported.
The outlet added: “Trump, the frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, is currently facing several legal cases both on the state and federal level including an indictment from the Department of Justice (DOJ) where the former president is accused of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that led to the events of the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has appealed a ruling from Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case and who refused that he had presidential immunity that claims he can’t be charged with acts committed while in office. Chutkan has scheduled a March 4, 2024, trial date for Trump.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking a trial date of August 4, just three months before the presidential election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his legal team has filed a motion with the court in Atlanta to have his case thrown out on grounds of immunity.
“From 1789 to 2023, no President ever faced criminal prosecution for acts committed while in office. That unbroken historic tradition of presidential immunity is rooted in the separation of powers and the text of the Constitution,” the filing said.
In an interview with the AJC, Willis said, “I think we’re in a good place” regarding issues relating to a possible ruling on presidential immunity.
Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor and a former elected state attorney, told Newsweek on Monday that Trump’s defense team “is hoping that the immunity issue provides a complete shield, but if not, still have the prosecutors and the courts expend significant time and attention in resolving the issue.”
“There is scant support in the Constitution or otherwise to conclude a president is immune from criminal prosecution in all circumstances, but it’s an issue that demands careful scrutiny and a clear, cogent decision by the court,” he added.
He also told Newsweek that the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals has asked those involved in Trump’s case to address how “presidential immunity might not be ripe to address prior to any conviction.”
McAuliffe added that, should the appellate court rule that presidential immunity will not be addressed before a conviction, “the trial might be able to proceed without delay and the issue––ironically––would be deferred in a way that doesn’t help Trump.”
Meanwhile, a co-defendant in Trump’s Georgia case has made a stunning claim about Willis, according to a report published on Monday.
A court filing claimed that Nathan Wade, a private attorney who is acting as a special prosecutor in the case, paid for vacations he allegedly took with Willis using money the county paid his law firm as compensation for work on the case. The report said that his firm has been paid around $650,000.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the motion was filed on behalf of co-defendant Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official. The paper said that the filing, however, “offers no concrete proof of the romantic ties between Willis and Wade, except to say ‘sources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney have confirmed they had an ongoing, personal relationship.’”
The motion requests that the court dismiss all charges against Roman and for Wade, as well as the DA’s entire team, be “disqualified from further prosecution of the case,” the paper continued.
The motion also claimed that some of the alleged activity could constitute “honest services fraud, a federal crime in which a vendor gives kickbacks to an employer.”