Updated Feb 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's lawyers have multiple reasons for hope right now

This is Donald Trump

Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump's legal team has to be feeling about as good as it's possible to feel while fending off this many legal challenges at once.

Why it matters: Trump wants two things in his myriad court cases — victories and delays. Both are well within reach.

Driving the news: In Fulton County, Georgia, there seemed to be a chance after a hearing on Thursday that Fani Willis could be removed as the lead prosecutor in that case against Trump, which is centered on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

  • Willis will resume her testimony on Friday over allegations of an improper relationship with a special prosecutor she hired for the sweeping racketeering case against Trump and his co-defendants.

In D.C., Trump has asked the Supreme Court to decide whether he's immune from Jack Smith's Jan. 6 prosecution — and to stop that case from going to trial in the meantime.

  • The trial in the federal election subversion case had been due to start on March 4, but it was postponed indefinitely pending the outcome of Trump's presidential immunity appeal.

Also in D.C., the Supreme Court seems inclined to let Trump back on the ballot in Colorado's GOP primary — another key win.

Zoom in: Neither of the delays would be a win on the merits. But stopping these trials from proceeding before the election would still be an enormous coup for Trump.

  • Legal experts told the N.Y. Times they didn't see proof of a clear conflict of interest in the Georgia case, but former federal prosecutor Caren Morrison said, "This has not been a good day for the D.A.'s office."
  • If Willis is removed from that case, another prosecutor could take it on, likely after a significant delay. But some analysts have suggested there's a chance no one would pick up the reins, and the case could simply slip away altogether.
  • If Trump succeeds in keeping the Jan. 6 case on ice and does win the presidency, he likely would never have to stand trial. And the court may not answer the big-picture question of presidential immunity at all.

What's next: A trial date of March 25 was set Thursday in Trump's Manhattan case related to hush-money payments.

  • That case is salacious and potentially embarrassing. But legal experts see it as perhaps the weakest of the four criminal cases against Trump.

Reality check: These positive vibes for Trump could evaporate overnight if Willis stays on the case, the Supreme Court allows Smith's prosecution to continue, or both occur.

  • Both center on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And both are in unfriendly locations for jury selection.
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