Fulton County DA Fani Willis files motion in fight to stay on Trump's racketeering case

 June 13, 2024

The Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia announced late last month that it will hear arguments over whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should be removed from the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump.

In response, Willis's office filed a motion this week seeking to have Trump's removal effort dismissed. 

"There exists no basis" for defense motion

"As both this Court and the Supreme Court have repeatedly held, Georgia appellate courts will not disturb a trial court's factual findings on disputed issues outside of certain, very rare, circumstances," the motion read.

It went on to claim that "with such due deference afforded to the trial court's factual findings, there exists no basis for reversal of the order at issue."

As Newsweek explained, the controversy stems from a romantic relationship Willis had with Nathan Wade, an attorney she hired to help prosecute Trump.

The former president's legal team maintains that Willis personally benefited from hiring Wade as his salary was used to pay for trips the two went on together.

Willis has disputed this contention and insists that she reimbursed Wade to cover her share of the expenses using a supply of cash she kept in her home.

Judge found no "actual conflict" on Willis' part

Judge Scott McAfee is overseeing Trump's trial, and NBC News reported in March that McAfee acknowledged the "appearance of impropriety" Willis and Wade's relationship had created.

"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 to the District Attorney, or even whether the romantic relationship has resumed," he wrote.

Nevertheless, McAfee concluded that no "actual conflict" had taken place and simply required Wade's departure from Willis' office.

Trump's lawyers responded by filing an appeal, which Newsweek quoted as saying that a review of McAfee's decision would be "prudent."

Defense says Trump's actions were constitutionally protected

In addition to accusing Willis of having a conflict of interests, they also asserted that Trump's actions following the 2020 election "fall squarely within the almost absolute First Amendment protections in the context of their core political speech."

"That could take months or even years," Washington Post contributor Amy Gardner wrote in March. "The new prosecutor would have sole discretion on whether to proceed with the case."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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