OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said earlier this week that former President Donald Trump’s racketeering trial could stretch beyond the 2024 election and into early 2025.
“I believe in that case there will be a trial. I believe the trial will take many months,” Willis said during an interview Tuesday at the Washington Post Live’s Global Women’s Summit. “And I don’t expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025.”
The trial’s start date has yet to be announced. Trump was charged along with 18 other co-defendants, four of whom have already accepted plea deals.
Trump’s legal teams have been attempting to push his various trials — in New York, Washington, D.C., Florida, and Georgia — beyond the 2024 election. In her remarks this week, however, Willis said the presidential election had no bearing on her decision to charge the man who is, by far, the leading GOP candidate for the nomination.
“I don’t, when making decisions about cases to bring, consider any election cycle or an election season,” she said. “That does not go into the calculus. What goes into the calculus is: This is the law. These are the facts. And the facts show you violated the law. Then charges are brought.”
Axios noted that Trump already faces the prospect of two criminal trials set to begin in March, around the time of the Super Tuesday primaries.
Willis has faced a great deal of scrutiny for bringing charges against the former president, including from those on the far left.
Writing in Jacobin, London-based writer Amos Barshad cited a couple of cases that Willis charged under the state’s RICO statutes, including former President Donald Trump and two Atlanta-based rappers, to make his argument.
“Known for prosecuting Donald Trump on election subversion charges, Atlanta DA Fani Willis is using another high-profile RICO case involving rapper Young Thug to boost her image. But critics say her popularity is obscuring the wrongful nature of the case,” Barshad began.
He explained that rapper Lil Duke, whose real name is Martinez Arnold, flew to Atlanta on May 9, 2022, from Los Angeles, and traveled to the home of longtime friend and collaborator, superstar rapper Young Thug, whose name is Jeffrey Williams.
Later that day, police raided Williams’ home and arrested both men along with 26 others. They were indicted by Willis who alleged that YSL, which is a rap group and record label that Williams created, was a criminal organization instead. “The indictment stated that Arnold’s participation in YSL amounted to a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. The penalty for violating RICO in Georgia is a prison sentence between five and twenty years,” Barshad wrote.
Willis has become a nationally recognized name thanks both to the YSL case and a concurrent RICO case: the prosecution of former president Donald Trump on election subversion charges. The Washington Post proclaimed Willis’s actions in the latter case could “save democracy.” But defense attorneys working the YSL case say that as Willis is embraced by the national media for her pursuit of Trump, the local people caught in her legal system — people like Arnold — are left harmed.
The national media’s fixation on the Trump case has further lionized the role of the American prosecutor — and boosted the archetype of the “prosecutor politician,” a mainstay of both major political parties. That lineage includes everyone from former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R), former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Vice President Kamala Harris. All of them built their political careers in part off their work as prosecutors.
He went on to note that the phrase “prosecutor politician” was first coined by Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Boston University, in 2017.