Georgia court sets October date for Trump challenge to Fani Willis, likely delaying trial past election

An appeals court in Georgia has scheduled a hearing on Donald Trump’s renewed push to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from trying the former president and his allies in a wide-ranging election interference case.

A panel of appellate court judges will hear their appeal on October 4 – one month and one day before the presidential election.

The judge overseeing the election interference case against the former president and his co-defendants has allowed Willis to stay on the case, following lengthy court hearings in March to determine whether she financially benefited from hiring a special prosecutor with whom she was once romantically involved.

Trump and his co-defendants then appealed that decision, and it has landed on the court calendar on October 4.

Judges Trent Brown, Todd Markle and Benjamin Land are expected to hear the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee hasn’t paused pretrial proceedings in the initial case, but the case will not be going to trial until this issue is resolved – meaning, there’s no chance that the trial to determine if Trump interfered in the 2020 election will reach a verdict before the next one.

Ms Willis and now-former special prosecutor Nathan Wade acknowledged their prior relationship but repeatedly testified that they started dating after he was hired, split their expenses, and that the relationship ended last summer before an indictment.

Judge McAfee’s decision offered her a choice: she can remove herself from the case, along with her entire office, or Mr Wade can step aside. Hours later, Mr Wade submitted his letter of resignation.

The case against the former president and five of his co-defendants surrounds an alleged pressure campaign to solicit state officials to violate their oaths of office and subvert Georgia’s election results to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss in the state.

They are accused of mounting a so-called “fake elector” scheme to falsely assert his victory in a state he lost to Joe Biden, seizing voting machines, intimidating election workers, and pushing the state’s top election official to “find” votes he would need to win.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Four of Mr Trump’s original co-defendants in the Fulton County case – including attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell – pleaded guilty last year after reaching plea deals with prosecutors.

This is a developing story