Ex-AG McKenna: Trump Georgia trial will be ‘long process,’ maybe years

Aug 17, 2023, 1:36 PM | Updated: 2:03 pm


Former President Trump now faces an indictment in Georgia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said on KIRO Newsradio Thursday former President Donald Trump’s trial in Georgia will be “a very long process.”

“It’ll take them many months, maybe years to actually get to the trial,” McKenna said on “Seattle’s Morning News.”

McKenna explained there are 41 separate charges against dozens of defendants and other so-called unindicted co-conspirators.

“It’s hard to fathom how long it’s going to take and how many lawyers and witnesses and months of trial will be required,” he said. “When I say years, I don’t mean 10 years. It’s hard to imagine this case will go to trial before the end of 2024. It’ll go into 2025 or so.”

More on Donald Trump: Georgia prosecutor seeks March trial date for trial of Trump and 18 others in election case

The indictment, with charges under the state’s racketeering law, accuses the former president, his former chief of staff, Trump’s attorneys, and the ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani of being members of a “criminal organization” and “enterprise” that operated in Georgia and other states.

“This is not a prosecution that can be ended by Donald Trump being elected and appointing a different attorney general,” KIRO Newsradio host Dave Ross said.

“Correct,” McKenna responded. “Not only that, if Trump is reelected as president, he cannot pardon himself and the other defendants. Because these are state charges, not federal.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis became the latest prosecutor to indict the former president. Willis is spearheading the investigation, but her term ends in December 2024. Dave asked if she wasn’t reelected, could the case against Trump be dismissed?

“It could if the next Fulton County DA decides to drop it,” McKenna said. “But that doesn’t seem very likely to me.”

Many of the 161 acts by Trump and his associates outlined in the Georgia indictment have already received widespread attention. That includes a Jan. 2, 2021, call in which Trump urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to overturn his election loss. That call, prosecutors said, violated a Georgia law against soliciting a public official to violate their oath.

More on the former president: Americans are divided along party lines over Trump’s actions in election cases

“If the public opinion and research are to be believed, none of this seems to be hurting Trump’s chances to be the next nominee,” McKenna explained. “He still has strong support among a significant percentage of Republican base voters. And you know, he doesn’t even have to have majority support among Republicans, although he does in crowded primary fields, even having less than majority support would be enough to win a fractured primary, which is exactly how he became nominee, the nominee in 2016, of course.”

Dave wanted to know at what point the constitutional requirements kick in and could mean Trump would be forced off the ballot.

“I can’t speak to other states, but in Washington, the secretary of state does not decide who can be on the ballot.”

McKenna said that is actually the way it should work.

“The secretary of state is not a judge, not a prosecutor, and not in a position to make those kinds of judgments. The courts are,” McKenna said.

McKenna also pointed out that if there were a citizen challenge to Trump being on the ballot because, under the 14th Amendment, the name of somebody who headed an insurrection against the Constitution cannot be listed, people would have to go to court.

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“In a representative democracy, that’s really as it shouldn’t be,” McKenna said. “I think that the voters should have the final say on who serves, assuming that you’re at least 35 years old, and you’re born an American citizen. Those basic requirements are met. No one’s going to quibble.”

Trump responded to the indictment Tuesday by announcing a news conference for next week to present yet another “almost complete” report on the alleged fraud he has yet to prove nearly three years after the 2020 election.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5–9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ex-AG McKenna: Trump Georgia trial will be ‘long process,’ maybe years