CNN’s legal analyst Elie Honig slammed the Department of Justice (DOJ) for how it defended its decision to rush former President Donald Trump’s federal trial.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the federal case alleging Trump interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia, announced Monday that the trial would begin March 4, 2024, one day before Super Tuesday.
Criminal defense attorney Caroline Polisi said that while Trump’s defense team’s push for a 2026 trial may have been “a bit of a reach … lots of federal trials would give more time” for defendants to go through the millions of documents in question.
Honig agreed, arguing the DOJ is risking violating Trump’s constitutional rights with such a speedy date.
“I agree, judges have very wide discretion when it comes to setting trial dates,” Honig began. “I agree, this will be an issue that Donald Trump will appeal eventually, but it’s cutting it really close here, to make Donald Trump — in a case with 12 million pages of documents — go to trial in seven months. And some of the rationales that the DOJ had offered up that the judge agreed with, I think don’t cut it.” (RELATED: ‘I’ve Never Seen A Court Move This Fast’: Rep. Byron Donalds Lays Out Huge Accusation Against Judge On Trump Case)
“For example, one of the things DOJ argued and the judge agreed with is, ‘Well, he has sort of known this was a possibility for a year or so, going back to January 6 trials.’ That’s not the way it works in our system. You are not ‘on notice,’ as a criminal defendant, until an indictment drops. That’s the purpose of an indictment. You can’t just say, ‘You kind of should have known there was something floating out in the ether.’ That doesn’t cut it.”
“I also agree with Caroline, one of the rationales is, ‘Oh, we the prosecutors, we gave you this handy guide with the most important documents.’ That’s nice. That’s a sweet courtesy. But guess what? It’s up to the defense lawyer to decide what matters to the defense. So I think they’re cutting it pretty close to the line with respect to Donald Trump’s constitutional right to fully prepare.”
Trump pleaded not guilty Aug. 3 in the case Chutkan is overseeing, and has pleaded not guilty in three other cases.