Fani Willis Faces Decision: Remove Special Prosecutor or Recuse in Trump Prosecution Due to Appearance of Impropriety

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Max Power

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Fani Willis and Nathan Wade at Press Conference

Fulton County, Georgia – Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Georgia has issued a ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team to proceed with the prosecution of Donald Trump and his co-defendants. However, the condition is that special prosecutor Nathan Wade must step down. You can read the decision HERE

Indictment # 23SC188947 – State of Georgia v. Donald Trump, et al – Order on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney filed 3-15-2024

In his recent ruling, McAfee acknowledged that the defense failed to prove Willis had a direct conflict of interest due to her personal relationship with the lead prosecutor. Yet, he emphasized “a significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team — an appearance that must be removed through the State’s selection of one of two options.”

The first is for Willis and her entire office to recuse themselves, leading to the case’s reassignment to another prosecutor or office by a state panel. The second option is for Wade to withdraw, allowing the case to proceed without his involvement.

The defendants in the election-related racketeering case against Trump and others argued for Willis and her office’s disqualification, citing a conflict of interest. They alleged that Willis benefited improperly from hiring Wade, with whom she had a romantic relationship.

Public hearings on the matter featured conflicting testimonies regarding the timeline and financial aspects of Willis and Wade’s relationship.

While McAfee criticized Willis for certain aspects, such as a speech casting racial aspersions, he concluded that it didn’t warrant her disqualification or deny a fair trial. However, he did write that the ruling:

“is by no means an 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’s opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices — even repeatedly — and it is the trial court’s duty to confine itself to the relevant issues and applicable law properly brought before it.”

Despite the allegations, the underlying charges against Trump and his co-defendants remain unchanged. However, the prosecution’s integrity was at risk, as disqualifying Willis’ office would necessitate the appointment of a new prosecutor or office, potentially causing further delays in the legal process.

Importantly, the judge wrote that the evidence in the case “demonstrated that the financial gain flowing from her relationship with Wade was not a motivating factor on the part of the District Attorney to indict and prosecute this case.”

To be sure, McAfee wasn’t complimentary of Willis. Though there wasn’t an actual conflict, he wrote that an “an odor of mendacity remains” and that “reasonable questions about whether the District Attorney and her hand-selected lead SADA testified untruthfully about the timing of their relationship further underpin the finding of an appearance of impropriety and the need to make proportional efforts to cure it.”

The judge also criticized a speech Willis gave whose effect, McAfee wrote, “was to cast racial aspersions at an indicted Defendant’s decision to file this pretrial motion.” However, he concluded that the speech didn’t cross the line to the point of denying a fair trial or requiring her disqualification.

The allegations did nothing to change the facts of the election subversion charges against Trump and his co-defendants but imperiled the prosecution nonetheless, because disqualifying Willis’ office would mean that a Georgia state prosecutors’ council would have to appoint a new office or prosecutor to handle the case. And that process would at least add further delay.

The case is pending in the Fulton County Superior Court, State of Georgia v. Donald Trump, et al, Indictment # 23SC188947.


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SPECIFIC SEARCH TERMS (TAGS)Trump, Georgia, election interference, Fulton County, Judge Scott McAfee, Fani Willis



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