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Trump can appeal ruling that kept Georgia prosecutor on case, judge says


WASHINGTON: A Georgia judge on Wednesday said Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump and eight of his co-defendants in the state’s criminal election subversion case could appeal a ruling that let lead prosecutor Fani Willis remain on the case.
Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee’s decision cleared the way for the former US president and the others to ask a Georgia state appeals court to consider whether Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, should be disqualified over her romantic relationship with a former deputy, Nathan Wade. McAfee, who approved the request for an immediate appeal, had ruled on Friday that Willis and her office could continue prosecuting the case as long as Wade withdrew, which he agreed to do. But McAfee said the relationship created an “appearance of impropriety.”


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Trump is the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 5 US election. The appeal presents another opportunity for him to delay progress in the case as he campaigns to win back the presidency. It is one of four criminal prosecutions for Trump, who has pleaded not guilty in each and portrayed them as politically motivated.

McAfee indicated he would continue addressing other legal issues while the appeals court considers whether to take up the disqualification bid. A trial date has not yet been set.

“The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the D.A. being disqualified,” Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead lawyer on the case, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Willis’ office declined to comment on the appeal, but said prosecutors will work to move the case toward trial “as quickly as possible.”

Trump and the eight co-defendants have argued that Willis received financial perks from the romance with Wade, giving her an incentive to prolong the prosecution for her personal benefit.

Willis has denied receiving an improper benefit and argued that the relationship had no impact on her handling of the criminal case.

Trump and 14 co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other charges stemming from what prosecutors allege was a scheme to overturn Trump’s narrow defeat in Georgia in the 2020 election. Four others who had been co-defendants in the case have pleaded guilty in deals with the prosecutors.

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