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Willis to Stay on Trump Election Case; Scott Grubman is Interviewed about the Willis Decision. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 09:00   ET





HONIG: Will be determined by the decision which we're going through right now as to whether the DA has been disqualified.

BOLDUAN: Elie, stick with me. The control room tells me that Paula Reid -- let's get over to Paula Reid, who has more information about what is in this decision from Scott -- from Judge Scott McAfee.

Paula, what do you know?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, the top line here is that the judge has ruled that the district attorney, Fani Willis, can continue on this case against former President Trump and over a dozen other defendants. But he does address this issue of an appearance of a conflict because the big question here is whether there was an actual conflict. The defendants were alleging that Fani Willis, you know, not only that she had this romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor on the Trump case, but that she also benefited financially. And he had to decide -- the judge had to -- had to sort of do this analysis, is it enough that this just looks bad, that there's an appearance of a conflict, or did they need to prove -- did the defendant, Trump and his co-defendants, need to prove that there was an actual conflict.

Now, again, I say that DA Fani Willis can stay on this case. But it also appears that the judge is saying that this appearance issue needs to be addressed before this can go forward. So, this appears to be a pretty nuanced ruling, but the headline is that the district attorney and her office can stay on this case. But we continue to read to learn more about exactly what the judge is saying about how you need to address the appearance of impropriety.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Paula Reid with the headline there. And it is a big one --


BERMAN: Which is that District Attorney Fani Willis can stay on the case. She is not disqualified.

Elie Honig, her office is not disqualified.

HONIG: Right.

BERMAN: The Fulton County district attorney's office continue to prosecute these crimes.

HONIG: Yes, that is the bottom line. Biggest takeaway here. Fani Willis can remain on the case. It sounds like the judge has found there was not an actual conflict of interests, not a provable financial conflict of interest.

Important to keep in mind, the defendants, Donald Trump and the other charge defendants, they're the ones who bore the burden of proof here. They had to prove there was a financial conflict of interests. And apparently, based on our initial readings of this ruling, they have not carried that burden. Now, we'll see if the judge has some other sort of measures that he suggests. We'll see if he has any harsh words for Fani Willis or her office. But yes, the bottom line is, the DA stays on the case, hence her office stays on the case. Hence, it can continue to move forward.

And as we said before, they don't have a set trial date yet. The DA has asked for a trial in August. I don't think that's remotely realistic, but it will continue. It will not be put into this sort of suspended animation that otherwise would have gone into.


Stay with us right now. We're going to go to Paula Reid. She's got some more information.

You're going through this right now and looking through the judge's ruling.

REID: Yes.

SIDNER: And there are some harsh words in it, we understand.

REID: There are, to Elie's point. The judge, while he has not removed Fani Willis from the case, he does have some considerable criticism for her. He's saying, look, "without sufficient evidence that the district attorney acquired a personal stake in this prosecution, or that her financial arrangements had any impact on the case." So there he's addressing the fact that they didn't really prove that she benefited from Wade being on this case when she was in a romantic relationship.

He said, "the defendants' claims of an actual conflict must be denied." So, he's like, look, you didn't prove that she had any sort of benefit that she received from the money Nathan Wade was making from this case.

But, he said, "this finding is by no means any indication that the court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment or the unprofessional manner of the district attorney's testimony during the evidentiary hearing. Rather, it is the undersigned judge's opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices."

So, this is pretty significant. I mean he is suggesting that she -- or he is saying that he had -- she had a tremendous lapse in judgment, that she was unprofessional when she testified. Remember, she was getting pretty contentious, pretty fiery with the defense attorney, insisting that she was not on trial when, in fact, they were asking her questions because the judge was assessing whether she needed to be disqualified. And then also saying here that she made bad choices.

And look, even though she's going to stay on the case, all of this, especially this language from the judge, and we're just skimming the opinion right now, I'm sure there's -- there's likely more, it's really a gift to former President Trump and his co-defendants because they're not only going to fight this case on the merits, they fight it in the court of public opinion.

Optics here matter. He has tried to undermine trust in the justice system. And if you have a judge who's overseeing a case, calling the prosecutor, again, unprofessional, saying that she made a bad decision, she had a lapse in judgment, that is a lot of ammunition for the former president and his co-defendants.

BOLDUAN: Paula, thank you so much. Paula is going to continue to bring us the headlines. Paula, stick close and just let us know.

We also have Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney, joining us as well.

Michael, your take on what the nuance, as Paula has laid out, the headline, Fani Willis, not disqualified from the case, not dismissed from the case. Her office is still handling this case.


But the words and the criticisms coming from the judge about her unprofessional manner, as he says it.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, well, I'm glad to be with you.

This was a self-inflicted wound that should have been healed and taken care of months ago, but basically they just let it get infected now to this place where the district attorney has been called by a court that she has to practice in front of, frankly, and her office has to practice in front of, she's been called now unprofessional. And this, frankly, will -- it is a gift to the defense, I believe, as they will use this as they talk about whether or not the case has merit or whether or not it was brought for other reasons, whether or not it's a professional prosecutor and all that. We're going to hear all that down the road.

But we're also going to hear, I expect, comments from the Georgia legislature as they have moved forward with their panel inquiry into her conduct. We're going to hear now this finding echoed around the halls of Congress by the likes of, you know, people in -- like Jim Jordan and things like that. So, I -- you know, this is not a good day for the state and it's not a good look for the state. But remember, this could have been remedy as we go through the order now. This initial problem and this appearance (ph) have been nipped in the bud. And I don't know why it was left to fester, but now, you know, it's basically cause gangrene of the limb and it's -- the judges has said, look, we're removing it if we're going forward. And that's -- and that's -- that's where we're at today.

BERMAN: Well, not so much, right? I mean she's allowed to continue prosecuting the case. The case is still in the DAs office. So we're -- there is an element of -- I understand that politically it is now loaded with a lot of comments from a judge here.

But the case -- the alternative, Michael, was that this judge could have said this case no longer can be prosecuted by the Fulton County's DA, and that would have put it into a complete limbo where no one may have been prosecuting it for months and months and months now.

MOORE: This -- this is the same judge now that's going to oversee this case. And this is not -- this is not what you want going into a judge if you're a prosecutor -- a lawyer on the side of the case where you have already been called unprofessional. And so while -- and I don't think politically she's got to worry. I mean she's in a Democratic county. She's -- she's liked by many people in her -- you know, personal and professional capacity. I don't think she's got to worry about whether or not somebody runs against her and uses this as some big trumpet that they're going to, you know, beat her at the polls. This is about how the case looks going forward and now whether or not, when a representation is made by the state in court, whether or not the judge believes that.

And so this is -- this paints the entire picture. The case may go forward -- I mean the case could have gone forward anyway. The prosecutor attorney's council could appoint -- have appointed somebody. But this case, I will tell you, I don't believe is going forward before the election. It doesn't of Fani Willis has prosecuted it or -- you know, or the -- some -- some prosecutor from -- from -- that's appointed from wherever. This case is not going to move forward in way. And I think the judge is saying, you've got to clean up your house before you, you know -- if we're going to deal with the -- deal with this case.

So, it's not -- it is not a good thing. It is -- no lawyer wants to be in front of a judge arguing motions, asking for things, deny (INAUDIBLE) continuances and --

BERMAN: Michael, hang on. We're going to -- we're going to jump in here, Michael. Michael, we're just going to jump in because we've got to get back to Paula Reid, who's got some more information from the actual ruling.


BERMAN: Paula.

REID: Yes, look, I do agree with -- with Michael's point there about the timing on when this case can go forward. Fani Willis originally said she wanted to bring it in August. This process to attempt to disqualify her has certainly eaten up -- eaten up some time.

But now there's another issue she needs to address, and that is the fate of the lead prosecutor for this investigation, Nathan Wade, who she had at a romantic relationship with. The judge here, just like he had some harsh words for Fani Willis, also has some pretty strong language related to Mr. Wade. Here he calls Wade's testimony, his explanation for some incorrect formation that he submitted, quote, "unpersuasive." He also describes his conduct as, "showing a willingness to wrongfully conceal his relationship with the district attorney."

The judge said, as the case moves forward, reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges between Wade and the district attorney have continued resulting in some form of benefit to the district attorney or whether the romantic relationship has resumed." I think you read between the lines, you lied once, you could potentially lie again. "Or could reasonably think that the district attorney is not exercising her independent, professional judgment, totally free of any compromising influences."

He says, and here's the key quote, "as long as Wade remains on this case, the unnecessary perception will persist." Basically saying, because of what has happened during this process, what they've learned, the fact that Mr. Wade was not always honest with the court, he said this is going to hang this cloud of distrust over this case. And he is suggesting that Nathan Wade needs to be removed. Now he does not, as I understand it, order him to be removed, but he is walking up to the line and saying he's -- he's got to go.


Now, some people have previously called for Nathan Wade and/or Fani Willis to step aside. Neither one of them have done that. Neither one of them have given any indication they intend to do that. But it's impossible to see really how this case would go forward. Certainly not before the election with Mr. Wade at the helm when you have the judge overseeing the case saying, look, he's got to go.

SIDNER: Paula Reid, I know you are pouring over this and we will get back to you as soon as you get more new information.

I do want to go now to Elie Honig.

This is what I'm reading in the language. The prosecution of this case cannot proceed until the state selects one of two options. So, very clear there. He's saying, you cannot go forward unless what?

HONIG: One of you has to go. Either the DA with her the entire office, or Nathan Wade. This will be the easiest decision the DA's office has ever had to make.


HONIG: Obviously, Nathan Wade will go, and the judge, in his ruling, says essentially, this is necessary to preserve public confidence in this case. He says there's enough of an appearance, there's enough of, as he says at one point, an odor of mendacity around this case.


HONIG: Interesting phrase. That something's got to be done to at least clean up the public perception.

BOLDUAN: That this thing smells.

HONIG: Yes, of mendacity. Whatever that smells like.

BOLDUAN: But serious --

HONIG: But -- but --

BOLDUAN: But this gets to what you're talking about.


BOLDUAN: This whole thing was so messy. And that's what Michael Moore was saying, that this could have been nipped in the bud.

HONIG: Right. Again, it's really important to underscore here. The big takeaway, Fani Willis stays on the case. The DA's office keeps the case. That case can carry on. That is far and away the bold headline.

They have survived, but not without substantial damage. I mean there is some really stark language in this ruling. The judge calls out the DA's, quote, "tremendous lack in judgment." "The odor of mendacity." He says that the speech, the public speech she made in the church was, quote, "legally improper," and the judge even says in the ruling, it may be time for a gag order on the DA because she keeps on making improper public statements. He leaves it out there. He doesn't say I'm issuing one, but he raises the possibility of a gag order on the DA. I mean we -- look, there's gag orders on Donald Trump --

SIDNER: Right.


HONIG: Because we collectively fear that he may be tainting the jury pool. And now the judge floats the same possibility.

So, the DA's office has survived. The case survives. It will roll on. At what pace, we'll see. But -- but there's some damaged done here.

BOLDUAN: Is this -- this isn't the best that could -- this isn't the best ruling that Fani Willis could have gotten, or is this the best rolling?

HONIG: It's pretty close to the best.

BERMAN: Yes, that's what -- I just want to make sure that we're making clear to people here.


BOLDUAN: I just -- that's the point I'm trying to get at.

HONIG: Yes. Yes. If I'm the DA I am breathing a heavy sigh of relief right now.


HONIG: Because this language, yes, we will see it in the media and maybe the jury pool will see it. You can filter that out later. But they have survived. Your goal here is to survive and carry on with the case. I mean this ruling is ugly. I mean it is -- if I'm the DA, I'm reading this ruling, I'm -- I'm breathing a sigh of relief, but I'm also cringing at some of the language the judge has put out there.


HONIG: But the number one goal is, keep the case alive and stay on the case. And that, the DA has survived.

Here's what could have been worse, Kate. Here's what would have been -- I mean what could have been slightly better, excuse me.


HONIG: The judge could have said, I find no impropriety here. I find the evidence presented by the defendants entirely unconvincing. They failed to carry on their burden, carry on with the case. The judge has not done that. He has found, I wouldn't say a midpoint, it's not 50/50, but he has given the defendants certain concessions.

BERMAN: Let's get reaction from the ground right now. We can get a sense of maybe how the DA's office feels about this.


BERMAN: Nick Valencia, in Georgia right now.

Nick, what are you hearing?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a huge win for Fani Willis, point blank. You know, let's full stop there. This is a victory for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. It means that they stay on this case and will continue to pick back up their investigation. An investigation that started three years ago on January 2, 2021, one with that infamous phone call from the former president to Georgia's secretary of state in which he said, find me more votes.

Fani Willis, despite this blistering language from the judge, the wind for her is that she's going to remain on this case. And she's survived tough words from judges before.

Take it back to last year when she was, you know, basically admonished by Judge Robert McBurney (ph), who is overseeing in the special purpose grand jury process. He told her that the optics were horrible, that she held a fundraiser for her -- her friend, the former candidate for lieutenant governor, Charlie Bailey. She -- because of that, she was disqualified from investigating now Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, who -- Burt Jones, who participated in the fake elector's scheme.

We should mention, a special prosecutor has still not been named in that investigation. So, that was the scenario here is that Fani Willis could have been removed and we could have found ourselves in a position where it would have been handed over to the prosecuting attorney's council and they would have had a very unique challenge in trying to find a prosecuting team to take over this case. Yes, the judge, you know, basically smack her on the wrist and said that she had a terrible lapse in judgment, but the point of all of this is that Fani Willis stays on and she's going to be able to continue on with this investigation. An investigation that has led to 19 indictments, including an historic one against the former president. It has led to four guilty pleas, including the crack (ph) and attorney of the former president, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Scott Hall, Ken Chesebro, all of those individuals have already pleaded guilty.


And Fani Willis gets to continue and march on with this progress she's already made to this point.

We have not heard from the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, but we could only imagine that behind us they are celebrating this as a huge win. And we know that because the defense attorneys, they haven't commented on this. We've asked Steve Sadow, who sent us this motion, we've asked Ashleigh Merchant, who also forwarded this ruling, to comment on this on the record and they have not said yet what their reaction is. And that's a big indicator that this is a hue which, again, for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team.


SIDNER: Nick Valencia, thank you so much. I'm going to take it from here.

Let's go now to Laura Coates.

Laura, you know, there are these two ideas. One is whether there was actual proof of impropriety and the other idea that is brought into this case, which the judge mentioned, is the appearance of impropriety. He said, yes, there was the appearance, but not the proof. Explain all of this and how this -- this sort of panned out for the judge?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This was so consequential. And if you remember, at the end of the last hearing, you heard from the DA's office, they were defending against this motion to disqualify Fani Willis and the entire team. This question of, well, is an appearance of impropriety, an appearance of a conflict going to be enough. Most people are accustomed to hearing about the quote/unquote "hint of impropriety." We were talking about a judge attempting to recues themselves. Here it was. Has there been enough of a conflict or can I have an appearance of a conflict such that it would rise to the level of not allowing a defendant to have a fair trial? That is the crux of any decision surrounding this. And this judge was very clear. He said, as Nick Valencia pointed out,

it wasn't that he condoned what he thought a lapse of judgment, but instead that the Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making, he says, bad choices, even repeatedly.

But here is the crux of the entire thing as well going forward. Nothing in that trial, nothing in those hearings had anything to do with the underlying facts as alleged. There were allegations from the moving parties trying to get her disqualified, that her statements at that church event somehow prejudice the jury pool more broadly, tried to play the race card and beyond. But when it came to the actual allegations in the indictment, those were untouched in this particular hearing.

But the jury is what is top of mind for this judge. The judge believes, and had the statement saying, look, as the case moves forward, reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit for the DA, or even whether their romantic relationship has resumed. And so we talk about this a great deal, Sara, and everyone else, that a jury is going to be looking at this and wondering, well, hold on, rather than the facts before them and the evidence as presented, what's going on here. The ultimate distraction, the ultimate sideshow, no prosecutor wants to walk in any courtroom and have people wondering about their personal life.

Prosecutors are fungible. They are interchangeable. To such an extent, I remember when I was pregnant and I said to the judge, I can't have a trial date on this thing, it's my due date. They said, really, is the entire government pregnant? They think of us all as fungible, interchangeable. And so anytime you're walking in, you want to be that blank slate. You want to be the government. The Fulton County people. You are on behalf of them. And so having this singular focus on one's relationship is highly problematic.

Finally, when you look broadly at what is at stake here, this is the only case that really touches on all of the co-defendants. We've talked a lot about Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, and the other cases involving a few other co-defendants particularly in Mar-a-Lago.

This was a case in Fulton County of a broad scope with extreme gravitas because it touches on the electors scheme and beyond. And so had this case gone away, it wouldn't just have impacted Donald Trump or even a Mark Meadows, it would have had the more than a dozen remaining co-defendants. And who in their right professional minds gearing up could have been the next team to successfully get up to speed, let alone prepare for a trial anytime within the next year.

SIDNER: Laura --

BOLDUAN: Laura, it's great -- I'm sorry.

SIDNER: Go ahead.

BERMAN: I won't thank you.

BOLDUAN: Yes, John says no thank you and we say thank you. And majority rules here.

Thank you so much, Laura. Laura's going through it as well. She'll stick with us.

Let's get back over to Paula Reid.

Paula, you're going through this more. What are you thinking? What are you seeing?

REID: Look, a top line, yes, Fani Willis gets to stay on the case and that's a win for her. That's what she was advocating for. But when you read the language here, when you step back and look at the totality of the circumstances, it really is hard to see how this is truly a big w win.

I mean here you have one of the most significant criminal prosecutions in the country right now that has been pushed back several months because of these efforts to disqualify her. Well, yes, technically she remains on the case. Here you have a judge just saying that she had, quote, a tremendous lapse in judgment, saying that she was unprofessional on the stand, noting that she made bad choices and saying that the lead prosecutor overseeing this case has got to go.


So, yes, the case itself remains in Fulton County. Now it's not even fully intact. The judge just dismissed some counts, though those could come back.

And look, the case itself, you're right, the facts remain the same. Remains to be seen if there are convictions for former President Trump and his co-defendants.

But it's not just what happens in the courtroom. The court of public opinion matters here. The most high-profile defendant is running again for the White House. A large part of his legal strategy is not only to delay, but also to undermine the public's trust in the system, to insist that he is the victim of prosecutors who have selected him because he is running again for the White House. And conduct like this, words from a judge like this, all go towards undermining confidence in the system. I mean they are going to walk into this case, whenever it starts, with this cloud hanging over this entire case. It's again, when you have the criminal justice system under such incredibly intense attacks from former President Trump and his allies, conduct like this does not help people's trust in the system or in the outcome of this case.

I mean, yes, I got technically this is a win for her that she stays on the case, but I'm not sure that this is a win for the justice system.

BERMAN: All right, Paula Reid, thank you very much.

Elie, Paula notes correctly, I mean they will walk into that courtroom with a cloud over their head, but they will walk into that courtroom.

HONIG: Right. BERMAN: Which -- which wasn't clear was going to happen before today.

So, two things. One, is this, you know, tantamount to driving 100 miles per hour. The cop pulls you over, gives you the harshest lecture in the world but doesn't give you a ticket. B, what happens next here? What can happen next?

HONIG: Yes, so it's a little worse than the driving hypothetical because this is all on the public record for us to see. And the language here is really fairly remarkable. I mean I want to point out to one other section. And Paula just gave us a couple.

There's a section of this opinion where the judge is talking about the testimony by the DA, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, that their romantic relationship only started after he was hired, right, and there was a substantial dispute. And the judge essentially says, the evidence wasn't clear enough for me to decide. But then the judge writes this at page 17, "reasonable questions about whether the DA and her hand selected lead prosecutor testified untruthful about the timing of their relationship further underpin the finding of an appearance of impropriety." I mean you're -- this is the DA. She is the chief law enforcement officer of that county. She is held to a different standard.

I was a federal prosecutor. If you are the lead, I was never a lead DA, you are held to a higher standard. And to have a judge say there are reasonable questions about whether this person lied on the stand is a big deal. So, yes, the DA survives. Again, most important thing, the case carries on. But real damaged done here. And really strong language.

BERMAN: But what -- in terms of what happens next -- sorry, Elie.


BERMAN: Can it be appealed?


BERMAN: And does this strong language --


BERMAN: Because there may -- you know, is all this strong language relevant insofar as it could have implications in another courtroom?

HONIG: So, can -- it probably can be appealed. Let's look at it both ways.


HONIG: Theoretically, the DA's office could appeal if they really didn't like the prospect of losing Nathan Wade. I'm telling you, that's not going to happen.

BERMAN: OK. HONIG: They are wiping their brow and say, OK, Nathan Wade, thanks for coming, you're out, we're going to survive because, again, the judge gave the DA's office a choice, either the DA and her entire office goes or Nathan Wade goes. That's an obvious decision. Theoretically, the DA's office could appeal.

Now, the defendants can try to appeal this, but there's going to be a question about whether they have the right to file what we call an interlocutory appeal, which means an appeal now --

BOLDUAN: What's that?

HONIG: An appeal before a trial.

SIDNER: Right.

HONIG: So, normally, if you're a defendant, you bring your appeal after trial, after you've been convicted and sentenced.



HONIG: But in certain narrow circumstances, you have the right to appeal before the trial --

BOLDUAN: Does that out of necessity delay the trial from going forward?

HONIG: That would absolutely delay the trial from going forward. But it's not clear under Georgia law and sort of general principles whether they have the right to challenge this now or whether they have to wait until the whole deal is over.


HONIG: So, if they did appeal at some point, they would argue that the judge used the wrong standard and that the judge gave an unreasonable reading on the facts. But I don't -- I don't like the defendants chances on appeal here whenever they take it because a lot of this ruling is based on the judge's assessment of credit stability of witnesses. We've talked about this. And when a judge says, I didn't find the defendants, witnesses persuasive. He doesn't find Fani Willis particularly persuasive either, but it's the defendant's burden, that's the kind of thing that an appeals court will not overturn. That's the kind of thing that's reserved for the trial judge.

So, I think this will stand. I don't think it will be struck down on appeal. I don't even know that the defendants can bring an appeal now.

SIDNER: Let -- let me go back to Laura Coates real quick here.

When you're looking at this, can the -- can the Trump team use this now public record in court in front of a jury? Can they use some of the language here in front of the jury to try and taint her?


COATES: Well, some would argue they wouldn't even have to. The jury pool is well versed in what this news will be.

But remember, there was no guarantee that Fani Willis herself would actually be the one to personally try this case, or even Nathan Wade. You can look at other cases, for example, like with Jack Smith. The likelihood of him actually going before a jury, standing there as representative on behalf of the people of the United States was highly unlikely. And so this might be the office that is more broadly tainted.

But here's a really important part of this opinion that I am focused on. How big of a role did cash play here? Remember about how much cash she had, whether she was reimbursing him or not, the principle of going dutch, whether they were taking trips. Who paid back who? The judge goes to the heart of all of this and actually says, more broadly, that whole theory that the defendant -- that the people bringing this motion wanted to raise is that, look, there was a financial incentive here supposing that these two, Nathan Wade and Fani Willis, were in some sort of a romantic relationship and looking to prolong it to, one, capitalize on the income generated, and, number two, to be able to have some cover for their relationship. The judge did not buy it. On more than one occasion the judge points of his notion, on the one hand about financial incentives, that neither party, Nathan Wade or Fani Willis, typically came in as destitute was the word they used. The idea of having to prove that the pool of money that was coming in was the only source of income to be used to these different adventures was something the judge took issue with.

Also that the defendants argue that the financial arrangement created an incentive to prolong this case, but, in fact, there is no indication of that. And he says that indeed the record is quite the contrary. Think back to that moment that we all remember when Fani Willis first decided that she was going to make public this case and going forward. Remember how long she said she wanted till a trial date? She said six months from now. People almost gafad (ph) in the room thinking, is she insane, she's going to have a six month from now trial date on a co-defendant case that includes Donald Trump? Well, that actually innerred (ph) to her benefit here. The judge saying, if she wanted to prolong it, then why would she have asked for all of these quick turnarounds? Why has there been the diligence to do this so quickly? And why has the focus been on bringing this case to trial various swiftly.

So, in reality, you got to go back in time, not just to the last couple months of this trial and these hearings, but all of the cumulative aspects of her efforts as a prosecutor. And remember, although at the trial, the prosecution will have the burden of proof. In this instance, it was the defense attorneys bringing the motion. The judge did not feel they met their burden. And that is very telling.

SIDNER: It is and it's a big win for Fani Willis and for her office with bruises, basically. She gets to go forward and we can't reiterate that enough, but there's a lot written here that really goes after her -- we -- OK, we're going to -- well, I'm going to say hello to you because apparently you know something I don't.


So much all the time. All the voices in my head telling me --

BERMAN: Now you know what I feel like.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's -- let's -- back to business. Let's get over to Nick Valencia. He's on the ground in Georgia.

And, Nick, with you is an attorney who represented Kenneth Chesebro, one of the people originally charged alongside Donald Trump by the district attorney. Kenneth Chesebro then -- then went on to plead guilty to avoid trial.

VALENCIA: That's right. And we're still standing by for comments from defense attorneys in this case still representing current defendants. We're waiting for Steven Sadow, the president -- the former president's attorney, as well as Ashleigh Merchant, who was the attorney, the defense attorney who first launched these bombshell claims.

But we're joined now by Scott Grubman. He represented Ken Chesebro during the course of his portion of the trial.

We've yet to hear from defense attorneys. What is your reaction -- immediate reaction to what you've read so far in this order, Scott?

SCOTT GRUBMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY WHO REPRESENTED KENNETH CHESEBRO: I'm disappointed, quite frankly. You know, this is an order where I think the judge makes clear that not only did the district attorney's office use horrible judgment, but he basically said they lied. Not they, the district attorney lied.

VALENCIA: So how does the case go on like this with that cloud over the district attorney's office?

GRUBMAN: I'll answer it like this, with a question. If you were being charged with a crime that could land you in prison for a decade plus and this was happening, would you feel like you were getting a fair shake? No, of course you wouldn't. And so I would be very disappointed if I were in the case. I think there's going to be a possibility of an attempt to do an interlocutory appeal.

VALENCIA: What does that mean?

GRUBMAN: That means go immediately to the appellate courts. Typically, a defendant has to wait until the end of the case to bring up all the errors on appeal. But there's an opportunity, in some cases, to go immediately to the court of appeals.

VALENCIA: So, that's what you anticipate is an immediate appeal from these defense attorneys?

GRUBMAN: It's discretionary So, Judge McAfee would have to allow the defense lawyers to do it. I'm going to anticipate you'll probably see a motion coming soon.