On Thursday, former President Donald Trump was arrested and booked in Georgia's Fulton County Jail, during which his mugshot was taken and published and he was forced to post a bond, in relation to a sprawling criminal indictment from District Attorney Fani Willis alleging a broad racketeering conspiracy.
Despite all of the media hype, however, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley expressed his belief that the case against Trump was weak and would "collapse" under scrutiny, according to the Daily Caller.
He also critiqued the prosecutor's rapid "NASCAR pace" in pushing for a speedy trial as well as the clearly partisan optics, if not also motivations, of Democrat Willis going after Republican Trump while he is the leading presidential candidate for his party.
During a Thursday interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum, network legal analyst Turley was first asked about the mugshots that had been taken and publicized of former President Trump's alleged co-conspirators and the likelihood that Trump himself, who had yet to turn himself in, would also have his mugshot taken and shared publicly.
"It does make it very likely that we will see this rather ignoble moment of a mug shot," Turley said. "It appears to most of us being just clearly gratuitous -- why you would need a mug shot of the most recognizable face in the United States, if not one of the most in the world? But that is going to be part of this process, as is the bond that he will have to pay."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
"And then it’s going to get, as they say, rather sporty," Turley continued. "There’s going to be an effort to try to get some of these issues reviewed before trial. That could be difficult with the racketeering case."
"Prosecutors tend to say 'Look, you might not like my evidence but I’ve got enough of it that I should be able to get to a jury.' A lot of appellate judges agree with that," he said.
The law professor proceeded to acknowledge that there were "strong claims" filed against some of the other indicted alleged co-conspirators, but quickly noted that he did not feel the same way with regard to the criminal allegations against the former president.
"It’s not that strong, in my view, with Donald Trump; in fact, I think it collapses if you believe that Trump believed that he could flip the state, that he did, in fact, win the state, and he took the advice of his legal team," Turley said. "That’s not the type of case, I think, that’s good for democracy. I don’t think it’s good to have a Democratic prosecutor pulling in the leading Republican candidate on that type of thin connection."
Turley and MacCallum went on to discuss how Fulton County DA Willis had requested a trial start date in October, just two months away, for a complex case involving 19 co-defendants. The law professor said that was a "NASCAR pace" that does a disservice to actual justice, in that it would deny the defendants sufficient time to prepare their particular and individualized defenses against the varying and specific charges.
He also expressed his disapproval for what appears to some to be partisan retaliatory interference by members of Congress by way of the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee opening an investigation into DA Willis and whether she coordinated her state-level criminal indictment of Trump with Special Counsel Jack Smith, who has also indicted Trump at the federal level in relation to his post-2020 election actions.
Though Turley acknowledged that coordination between Willis and Smith would be wrong, if such a thing occurred, he nonetheless did not like the "optics" of Congress going after local prosecutors -- and suspected the courts would similarly be "repelled" -- in the same way that he disapproved of the appearance of partisan motivations behind Willis' indictment of Trump.
"I have the same reaction as I did to the indictment in Atlanta -- I don't like the looks of a Democrat pulling in the leading Republican without a stronger nexus in the evidence to show a crime, and I have the same reaction to Republicans investigating Democratic prosecutors before a trial," he said. "We have a court system, the greatest court system in the world -- let's let it work."