OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A CNN legal analyst said on Wednesday there is no way that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can put former President Donald Trump on trial within six months.
When she announced the indictments for alleged 2020 election interference on Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she wanted Trump’s trial to begin in March — the height of the primary season. But CNN’s Elie Honig said there’s no chance of that happening.
“There is no planet on which this case will be tried in March, due to the logjam that we just saw,” he told CNN host Anderson Cooper.
He went on to explain.
“Now we see all of these four different indictments, and they’re all jockeying for very limited trial space, but the D.A. has asked to try this in March,” he said. “First of all, there is an ongoing racketeering trial right now that the D.A.’s office is handling in Georgia. They are still choosing a jury, they’re seven months in. I know that sounds unbelievable, but state jury selection is way slower than in federal cases.”
The legal analyst added: “So, even if they start in March, they’d still be picking a jury on election day, so that is not happening. I understand what the D.A. is doing, she’s doing what prosecutors are trained to do. You always say, ‘We are ready to go, any day; we want to try everyone all together,’ but March is not happening for this case.”
Michael J. Moore, a former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, agreed, adding he believes it is unlikely there will still be 19 defendants when the case finally does go to trial.
“There’s not a chance. There’ll be people who flip, who cooperate, plead out. There may be people she decides to get rid of because it complicates the case. I mean, there could be a number of reasons,” he said. “There won’t be 19 defendants sitting in the courtroom, and because there’s 19, that’s one of the reasons there’s no possible way that she’s gonna go to trial in March.”
Moore added: “I mean, this is sort of a PR move, I think, on her part. I think it throws gas to Trump to say, ‘Look, why are they treating me different than every other criminal defendant in Fulton County? Why are they rushing my case?’”
Former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers told CNN on Tuesday, hours after the indictment, that Willis will probably not get what she wants.
“Back in 2022, just last year, she brought a case against a rapper and several others. What does that tell you about the timing of this case and how quickly or slowly it might be able to come to trial?” CNN anchor Sara Sidner said to the former prosecutor.
“Fani Willis has a lot of experience with RICO throughout her prosecutorial career, so she knows what she’s doing in this regard. But going back to the Young Thug case, it’s still in jury selection. I mean months and months just in jury selection,” she said.
“Picking a jury for the former president and these other high-ranking former officials and lawyers and so on is going to be even more complicated than picking a jury for the Young Thung RICO case, so to me, that just underscores again that six months is an unrealistic goal to try this thing,” she said.
Prior to the indictment, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ran through some important logistics during a routine Monday morning in the local courthouse while overseeing the grand jury proceedings.
“If a grand jury presents an indictment, that’s usually in the afternoon, and you can film and photograph that,” McBurney told reporters and members of the public crowded into his courtroom before hearing motions in a murder case stemming from a nightclub shooting.
According to a report by The Messenger, “at least part” of the trial “may be televised.”