OPINION: Trump’s election case in Georgia gets even weirder

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

You know politics and its collision with the legal system has gone cuckoo when a judge conjures up a dark German fairy tale — and it perfectly captures reality.

That was the case when Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney referred to the Brothers Grimm to sum up the antics of one Donald Trump.

In March, Trump’s lawyers asked the court — McBurney — to toss the special grand jury report and to remove Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis, and the judge himself, from the proceedings. The special grand jury explored Trump’s efforts to deep-six the 2020 election. An announcement is expected later this month.

An indictment in Fulton would be the fourth for the country’s 45th president, who hopes to be its 47th. The third came Tuesday — felony charges connected to his efforts to hang onto power after the 2020 election. He’s also charged in a federal case in Florida, concerning classified documents. And he faces state charges in New York connected to money and the porn star.

Back in Fulton County, McBurney conceded it might be worrisome to imagine yourself posing for a mugshot. But there’s an upside in the bizarro world that surrounds Trump.

“For some, being the subject of a criminal investigation can, a la Rumpelstiltskin, be turned into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic,” McBurney noted.

The judge’s reference to the Rumpelstiltskin, the gnome who could spin straw into gold, came on the heels of reports that Trump’s political action committee, Save America, spent $40 million on legal fees to defend the former president and his merry band of henchmen. (Truth in advertising would have the PAC be renamed to Save Trump’s Butt).

But McBurney’s comment, which was in a footnote, as are most of this good asides, was dead on. The legal actions against Trump have played into his wheelhouse. Trump has always embraced the victim card. And his narrative that “Marxists, communists, fascists and globalists” are out to get him helps his fundraising and his poll numbers. At least with the hard cores.

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

Now, McBurney didn’t have to dip into his childhood fairytale reading to spice up his order. But he sure as heck wanted to. And those of us who enjoy salty legal opinions, rather than bland legalese, are glad for that. AJC reporter Tamar Hallerman referred to them as “McBurns.”

The national media has eaten it up:

“Judge torches Trump lawyers,” said one. “Georgia Judge Slaps Down Trump’s Bid to Nix Possible Indictment,” said another. And “Georgia judge skewers Trump’s bid....” said a third.

“You can tell from his opinions that (McBurney) loves this stuff,” said Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor and assistant U.S. Attorney, who has followed the case.

Trump’s legal team never had a shot to win this skirmish, he said. Asking a judge to short circuit what a grand jury has investigated before any indictment, he said, “is absurd” and “off-the-wall.”

“You can see where this came from; it was Donald Trump telling his lawyers, ‘Do something. Anything!’” said Akerman.

Attorney Drew Findling, who is heading up the effort along with Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg, declined to comment. He’s a darn good defense lawyer, and I’m sure he’s not going broke on this case. Although I hope he gets paid up front.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Trump’s team also filed an appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court, which is not exactly a George Soros operation. That court unanimously shot that down two weeks ago.

Findling & Co. obviously had ants in their pants (and dresses) with McBurney’s unusually slow response to their March filing. So, they recently tried again to get DA Willis disqualified. That request was farmed out to Cobb County judge.

McBurney batted away the notion that Willis is using the case to pump up her political standing and raise cash.

(Last year, he did remove then Republican lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones from the case because Willis had held a fundraiser for Jones’ Democratic opponent. Jones won the election. The judge, in his characteristically quotable manner, chided Willis, calling it a “What are you thinking moment?”)

In fact, McBurney wrote that Willis’ “consistent — and persistent —theme has been the standard fare of ‘pursuing the evidence where it leads us,’ ‘holding everyone accountable,’ and ‘no one being above the law.’”

I can tell you that Trump immediately knew the DA was talking about him. The former president has always seen himself as above the law. And under it. And outside it. She was totally talking about him.

The judge couldn’t help slipping in another shot at Trump, who has called Willis, who is Black, a “racist.”

“The drumbeat from the District Attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) nor personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants,” McBurney wrote.

Meanwhile, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat discussed his department’s preparedness during a Tuesday afternoon news conference several hours before news of the latest Trump indictment became public.

“It doesn’t matter your status,” he said. “We have a mugshot ready for you.”