By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lawyer for Donald Trump said on Friday that the former U.S. president should not face trial on charges that he sought to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia if he wins the election next year.
The remarks by the lawyer, Steven Sadow, came as the judge overseeing the case wrestled with how to set a trial date given Trump’s other legal entanglements and the looming campaign next year. Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election.
Sadow said that if Trump wins the election, he would seek to postpone the trial until after he left office, arguing that it would interfere with his responsibilities as president.
Trump, who faces four simultaneous state and federal criminal prosecutions, has repeatedly sought to delay the cases against him until after the Nov. 5, 2024, election. Sadow’s remarks show how Trump could use his campaign and a possible second four-year term in office to delay those cases, even in state courts where he would be unable to pardon himself and would not have control over the prosecutions.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week requested the Georgia trial begin in August 2024, a timeline that would likely extend the proceedings through Election Day and into early 2025.
“What would be the state’s response that having this trial on Election Day is election interference?” Judge Scott McAfee asked prosecutors.
“The district attorney has made it clear that she has no interest in interfering or getting involved with this presidential election,” prosecutor Nathan Wade said during the hearing. “Her sole focus is to move this case forward.”
Trump has objected to the proposed August trial.
“Can you imagine that notion of the Republican nominee for president not being able to campaign for the presidency because he is in some form or fashion in a courtroom defending himself?” Sadow asked during the hearing.
Trump and 14 co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other charges as part of what prosecutors allege was a coordinated scheme to reverse Trump’s narrow defeat in Georgia following the 2020 election.
Four of the original 19 defendants have pleaded guilty to lesser charges in return for agreeing and to cooperate with the prosecution.
McAfee did not set a trial date on Friday, but expressed skepticism that all 15 remaining defendants could be tried together.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)