Georgia appeals court to review decision allowing DA Willis to prosecute Trump case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis would take the stand as a witness during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on Feb. 15 in Atlanta. Photo: Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed on Wednesday to hear a request filed by former President Donald Trump and eight co-defendants seeking the removal of the Fulton County district attorney from the 2020 election interference case.

The appeals court ruling means that District Attorney Fani Willis will renew a court battle with defense attorneys over whether Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee erred by rejecting a motion to disqualify Willis from the case after she admitted to a romantic involvement with a special prosecutor she hired.

An appellate panel of three judges ruled on the defenses’ motion within the 45-day window the law allows since the appeal was filed on March 29.

The appeal court’s decision further diminishes the chances of the Fulton County District Attorney’s office successfully convening a trial this year to consider racketeering charges against the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee and his allies, who are accused of illegally conspiring to overturn the 2020 election in former President Donald Trump’s favor.

Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow and other defense lawyers have argued that McAfee should not have allowed special prosecutor Nathan Wade to resign on March 15 while allowing Willis to remain on the case, alleging her hiring of Wade and then taking vacations to Aruba and other places with him amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.

McAfee wrote in his March 15 court order that there is a need to address a “significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team,” referring to Willis and Wade. The two admitted to having become romantically involved several months after Willis hired Wade as special prosecutor in November 2021.

McAfee ruled that the Trump co-defendants failed to sufficiently prove there was conflict of interest related to a relationship that saw Wade get paid about $700,000 by Fulton County before stepping down last month.

The appeal came from Trump and co-defendants including former Trump campaign officer Michael Roman, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Willis filed a motion on April 8 arguing that McAfee correctly found she had no conflict of interest. Willis also wrote that the testimony given during her disqualification hearing did not reveal a deliberate attempt  “prejudice the defendants or secure their convictions” prior to the trial.


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