Trump ‘believes’ he’ll be convicted of overturning 2020 US election in trial this year

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks after meeting with members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at their headquarters in Washington, Wednesday
The trial was scheduled to begin on March 4 but now looks likely to take place later this year - AP
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Donald Trump reportedly believes he will be convicted of attempting to overturn the result of the 2020 election in a trial later this year.

The former president expects a jury in Washington DC will find him guilty of conspiring to “defraud the American people” on four charges that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, Axios reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

Such a verdict could throw his reelection campaign into disarray.

The trial was scheduled to begin on March 4 and could come before the US election in November.

However, a federal judge on Friday formally postponed proceedings due to an appeal by Mr Trump on claims that he is immune from prosecution for official actions taken while he was president.

The case is linked to the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021 which Mr Trump is accused of inciting in his alleged attempts to overturn the election result.

He has repeatedly claimed the charges against him are politically motivated.

The Axios report came as Fani Willis, the district attorney prosecuting Mr Trump’s election interference case in Georgia, admitted she had a relationship with the case’s chief lawyer.

Ms Willis said she had a “personal relationship” with Nathan Wade, who has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute Mr Trump in recent months, but said it had begun after he started working on the case.

She added there were no grounds to dismiss the case or to remove her from the prosecution.

Mr Trump has claimed the relationship is evidence of corruption and said it undermined the charges against him, which include racketeering and lying about the 2020 election results.

On Friday he said Ms Willis had used the case to “get her ‘lover’ more money”, adding: “THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”

Ms Willis has also been issued with a subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee to hand over documents relating to Mr Wade.

Impact of guilty verdict

Polling shows more than half of Americans would be less likely to vote for Mr Trump if he was found guilty in Washington.

Among Republican voters alone, 70 per cent say they believe Mr Trump is innocent and would not change their voting intention based on the outcome of the trial.

Axios reported that Mr Trump plans to attend every day of the trial to emphasise his claims that the legal proceedings are “corrupt” as he eyes a return to the White House.

A new poll commissioned by Bloomberg found that Joe Biden is ahead in a hypothetical head-to-head contest with Mr Trump nationwide, but a separate survey by Quinnipiac University found the Republican frontrunner leads in seven key swing states.

The election interference case is just one of four pending criminal proceedings against Mr Trump, with a trial over his alleged falsification of business records set to take place as early as March, and the Georgia trial set to begin in August.

The former president is also set to take the stand in Miami, where federal prosecutors allege he mishandled classified government documents after leaving office.

Mr Trump has launched several legal challenges to the cases, including a Supreme Court petition which he hopes will lead to a ruling that he is immune to prosecution for actions taken while he was president. Such a ruling appears unlikely.

The trials have become a major feature of the 2024 presidential campaign, with Mr Biden telling voters that upholding democracy and the rule of law is “the central cause of my presidency.”

Mr Trump, for his part, has pledged to take on the “deep state” he says is responsible for the prosecutions.

The 77-year-old is the clear frontrunner in the Republican primary race after winning the first votes in both Iowa and New Hampshire last month and attracting the support of almost three-quarters of Republicans, according to an average of polls.

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