Donald Trump's criminal cases continue after judges rule against him

In 2023, Mr Trump became the first sitting or former president to be indicted – racking up 91 felony counts

Donald Trump says the prosecution is a 'witch hunt' inspired by US President Joe Biden. AP
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Donald Trump suffered back-to-back setbacks this week in his effort to quash some of the dozens of felony charges he faces.

On Friday, a Georgia judge ruled against Mr Trump's attempt to disqualify the top prosecutor who brought charges against him, clearing one obstacle to his trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election.

The case has captivated US news networks for months because Mr Trump and his co-defendants alleged the district attorney in the case, Fani Willis, had and “improper intimate personal relationship” with the lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Ms Willis had shown a “tremendous lapse” in judgment and there was a “significant appearance of impropriety".

“The court finds the allegations and evidence legally insufficient to support a finding of an actual conflict of interest,” the judge said. “However, an odour of mendacity remains.”

He said Ms Willis can continue to prosecute the case, provided Mr Wade drops out, which he did on Friday.

"I am offering my resignation in the interest of democracy, in dedication to the American public, and to move this case forward as quickly as possible," Mr Wade said, adding he was "sure that the case, and the team, will be in good hands going forward and justice will be served".

Ms Willis did not respond to the ruling or to Mr Wade's resignation.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges of involvement in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia, where Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes.

The two are presumed to be heading for a rematch in November after both won enough support from primary elections.

In 2023, Mr Trump became the first sitting or former president to be indicted – racking up 91 felony counts in four criminal cases.

In a federal case in Florida, where Mr Trump is accused of mishandling state secrets, a judge on Thursday rejected one of his bids to dismiss the case.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who had been appointed by Mr Trump, issued a two-page order saying that though the Trump team had raised “various arguments warranting serious consideration”, a dismissal of charges was not merited.

The case involves boxes of records, some highly classified, that Mr Trump took to his Mar-a-Lago estate when he left the White House.

After Thursday's hearing, Mr Trump on his Truth Social platform took note of the “big crowds” outside the courthouse, which included supporters with flags and signs who honked their car horns in solidarity with the ex-president. He again said the prosecution is a “witch hunt” inspired by Mr Biden.

Mr Trump did appear to score one small win this week, when a judge granted him a 30-day delay to the start of his trial over a hush money payment to an adult film star.

Mr Trump and his lawyers argued that the late disclosure of evidence was hurting preparation for the trial, and the judge ruled that proceedings could now start in April.

Updated: March 16, 2024, 3:57 AM