Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

...However, Fani Willis Wants to Start on Aug. 5

In contrast to Aileen Cannon, Fulton County DA Fani Willis is ready and rarin' to go. She has filed a motion asking Judge Scott McAfee to start the Georgia electoral fraud trial on Aug. 5, 2024. She picked that date to avoid being in conflict with the federal case in D.C. scheduled for March 5, 2024, and Cannon's case, nominally scheduled for May.

Of course, Willis doesn't get to set the date; McAfee does. He was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), who is definitely no fan of Donald Trump, to put it mildly. For McAfee, his personal path to a promotion would be for Kemp to approve of his work as a judge and move him up in the Georgia court system. Acting as Trump's personal defense attorney would not be helpful to him at all. Running the trial according to established rules and not treating Trump differently from other defendants would work in his favor.

Another (important) thing in Willis' motion is setting June 21 as the final date for defendants to jump ship and make a plea deal. This gives them plenty of time to flip, although their own lawyers will surely tell them that the early bird gets the worm. Willis certainly wants more defendants to flip for two reasons. First, defendants asking for plea deals will have to provide her with useful information or at least corroborate information she already has. They also have to be available as witnesses if she needs them. Second, prosecuting two or three or four people is a lot easier than prosecuting 15 people. Just getting the bit players out of the way and clearing the field is also valuable to her, even if the information they provide isn't critical and she already has it from another source by now.

Trump will almost certainly strenuously object to the Aug. 5 date. If the trial begins then, he will have to spend the most important part of the general-election campaign sitting in an Atlanta courtroom with his mouth taped shut. That would be incredibly painful for him. Being unable to campaign much (except in the evening and on weekends) would make him furious and could hurt him with some swing voters who might start thinking that they would prefer a president with less baggage. His lawyers could argue that the trial would interfere with his election campaign, but McAfee doesn't have to take that into account. It's entirely his call and from his personal point of view (gaining Kemp's favor by treating Trump like every other defendant), it would make sense to approve Willis' request. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates