Rep. Tom DeLay asked a judge Wednesday to separate the two remaining charges against him and let him to go to trial quickly on one count.
The Texas Republican is seeking a quick resolution of the charges so he can regain his post as House majority leader when Congress reconvenes in late January. House GOP rules prevent him from serving in the post as long he remains under indictment.
On Monday, Texas Judge Pat Priest on Monday dismissed one conspiracy charge against DeLay but let stand charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money. Because Priest stripped some language in the remaining conspiracy charge, that count could be tied up in the courts if prosecutors appeal.
DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin asked Priest to sever the two charges and move ahead with a trial on the money laundering charge. If DeLay were to be acquitted of that charge, the conspiracy count could be moot.
DeGuerin asked that a trial be tentatively scheduled for the first or second week in January.
District Attorney Ronnie Earle has until Dec. 20 to appeal Priest’s ruling.
DeLay, 58, and two GOP fundraisers are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to 2002 candidates for the state Legislature. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be directly used for political campaigns, only administrative purposes.
The charges against DeLay could still be thrown out before a trial if Priest agrees with the defense’s allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.