CNN Analyst Scolds Judge In Georgia Case Against Trump, Questions DA’s Ethics


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The judge in the case against Donald Trump in Georgia just got smacked down by a CNN legal analyst, and so did the district attorney who is potentially prosecuting the former president.

CNN legal analyst Elie Honing weighed in on what the judge said in his decision to not disqualify DA Fani Willis from the case.

Some believe that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney went beyond his role in criticizing the former president for politicizing the indictment against him and Honig was one of them.

“Judge Robert McBurney, he wrote something really interesting that ties to the point that that that Phil and Errol are making. And he said he talked about Trump’s efforts to capitalize on these legal woes. And he said, and for some, quote, ‘being the subject of a criminal investigation, can a la Rumplestiltskin be turned into a golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic.’ That was striking,” CNN anchor Poppy Harlow said.

“Yes. So that motion was procedurally and legally flawed, I think. I think I gave it a 0% chance of success on this show, which I don’t often do. Thankfully, that turned out to be correct,” Honig responded.


“But I’m going to differ with the judge. I’m going to take issue with that statement by the judge. There’s nothing illegal about politicizing an indictment! You’re actually allowed to do that. You’re allowed to fundraise off of ‘I’ve been indicted and this is unjust,’” he said.

“He’s not saying it’s illegal, but he’s pointing it out. That’s what was notable,” Harlow said.

But then Honig mentioned what DA Willis did that is ‘ethically questionable.”

“He should not be the police of manners here. The judge should be worried about the law and conflict of interest. In fact, finally, Willis has fundraised, the DA off of this case. That is ethically questionable,” he said.

“When she was running,” the anchor said.

“Yes, she has used subpoenas in this case to say, ‘Hey, everyone, I just subpoenaed Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator, donate to me,’” Honig said.

“I think that’s an ethical problem. Donald Trump doing what he’s doing is distasteful, is perhaps manipulative, as Errol and Phil pointed out, of people who are donating to him, who don’t quite realize this money is not going for yard signs. It’s going for lawyers to make sure people don’t flip, but it’s not illegal. And I actually think it’s beyond the judge’s province to get into that,” he said.

Judge McBurney ruled against Trump’s bid on Monday morning, stating in a nine-page decision that it is simply too early for Trump or his supporters to attempt to stop Georgia prosecutors from looking into him, largely due to the fact that he has not yet been indicted, Politico reported.

“While being the subject (or even target) of a highly publicized criminal investigation is likely an unwelcome and unpleasant experience, no court ever has held that that status alone provides a basis for the courts to interfere with or halt the investigation,” wrote McBurney, who spent a year overseeing District Attorney Fani Willis’ special grand jury investigation of Trump’s election-related actions.

Willis has hinted that she will likely make her final charging decisions in August, and many believe she will recommend charges against Trump and a long list of potential enablers who helped him attempt to tamper with the results of the elections in Georgia and other states won by Joe Biden.


Trump will then have the opportunity to file motions to contest the events leading up to the charges, according to McBurney.

“Guessing at what that picture might look like before the investigative dots are connected may be a popular game for the media and blogosphere, but it is not a proper role for the courts and formal legal argumentation,” McBurney wrote.

Trump has attacked Willis, a Democrat, saying that she is conducting a political witch hunt against him in order to harm his chances of winning the 2024 presidential election. Courts have supported Willis’ efforts to haul in dozens of Trump’s top aides and allies, including his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

McBurney claimed that Trump had not provided any supporting evidence for those assertions.

“While both sides have done enough talking, posting, tweeting (“X’ing”?), and press conferencing to have hit (and perhaps stretched) the bounds of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct … neither movant has pointed to any averments from the District Attorney or her team of lawyers expressing a belief that Trump … is guilty or has committed this or that offense,” the judge wrote.

“Put differently, the District Attorney’s Office has been doing a fairly routine — and legally unobjectionable — job of public relations in a case that is anything but routine,” he wrote.

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