Judge weighing Fani Willis disqualification previously donated to her campaign

 February 24, 2024

The Georgia judge who is overseeing Donald Trump's criminal trial for election interference donated $150 to the embattled prosecutor, Fani Willis when she was running to be district attorney. 

Judge Scott McAfee is currently deciding whether Willis should be disqualified for her own conflicts of interest relating to her affair with a prosecutor whom she hired.

McAfee's support for Willis certainly raises doubt about whether he can judge the issue impartially.

Trump judge's ties to Fani Willis

While the donation was of "nominal" value, it should have been disclosed to the defense, Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Philip Holloway said.

“The donation itself is more or less a token amount and was made prior to his becoming a judge,” he said. “But failure to disclose to the defendants a political donation to the prosecutor can be seen as a present appearance of a conflict of interest. Judges are required to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

McAfee donated $150 to Willis in 2020 while he was at the Justice Department, and Willis was running for District Attorney of Fulton County.

McAfee had previously worked for Willis when she led the complex trial division at the Fulton County District Attorney's office.

In 2023, McAfee was sworn in as a judge following an appointment by Governor Brian Kemp (R).

McAfee also donated $200 to Kemp’s campaign in 2018 and $200 to a Republican state representative candidate in 2020.

Explosive misconduct hearing

The judge admonished Willis to observe decorum at an explosive hearing last week where the prosecutor delivered two hours of furious, defensive testimony.

“You all know what professionalism looks like; we all know what decorum looks like,” McAfee said.

Across hours of testimony, Willis and her lover, Nathan Wade, both claimed that they divided expenses for their lavish vacations together despite there being no record of such payment.

They both claimed that Willis paid in cash.

The lovers also contested the alleged timeline, insisting their dalliance began after Willis hired Wade, although a friend of Willis' said their relationship began years earlier.

Willis' narrative collapses

New evidence submitted Friday showed that Wade went to Willis' home 35 times before they say their relationship began.

No one disputes that Willis and Wade had a relationship, but they argue there is no material conflict.

McAfee has warned that a conflict of interest or even the appearance of one could be enough to remove Willis from the case.

If that were to happen, it's difficult to see how her case against Trump could proceed.

The judge has been given an easy out, with Willis having already discredited herself in public - but it's unclear if the judge wants to provoke backlash by potentially scuttling one of the criminal cases against Trump.

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