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Judge Deals Blow to Fani Willis, Warns of Disqualification in Trump Case

Published Feb 12, 2024 at 3:38 PM ESTUpdated Feb 12, 2024 at 6:40 PM EST


Fani Willis Faces New Foe in Georgia

By Katherine Fung

Senior WriterFOLLOW


The Fulton County judge overseeing Georgia’s sweeping racketeering case against Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants said it’s “possible” District Attorney Fani Willis could be disqualified from the case but spared her from being the first to testify about misconduct allegations made against her.

Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Monday that it’s “possible” Willis could be disqualified from the Trump case based on facts being alleged by one of the co-defendants and that an evidentiary hearing on those claims “must occur,” paving the way for Thursday’s hearing to go on as planned, despite Willis’ opposition.

The PwC audit


The PwC audit


McAfee agreed with Willis’ attorney that “it would be important that from the outset we’re not talking about calling Ms. Willis as the first witness,” but he left the door open for the district attorney to testify later on, saying that the defense “established a good faith basis for relevance” for Willis’ testimony.

Fani Willis Disqualification Trump
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference on August 14, 2023, in Atlanta. A judge in the Georgia county said Monday it’s “possible” Willis could be disqualified from the state’s election… MoreJOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Monday’s hearing sought to determine whether Willis, special prosecutor Nathan Wade and others from the district attorney’s office will have to testify during Thursday’s hearing, when McAfee will weigh in on the accusations being made against Willis for the first time.

Willis has been accused of misrepresenting a personal relationship with Wade, whom she hired to help her office prosecute Trump and his co-defendants in the Georgia case, which alleges that the former president and his co-defendants tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state.

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Willis’ relationship with Wade was brought to light by defendant Michael Roman last month after the former Trump official submitted a court filing that asked the court to remove the two prosecutors from the case and for the charges against him to be thrown out based on the new information about Willis and Wade. The filing accuses the pair of making financial gains from prosecuting the election case.

“The state has admitted a relationship existed,” McAfee said during the hearing. “So what remains to be proven is the existence and extent of any financial benefit, again if there even was one. Because I think an evidentiary hearing must occur to establish the record on those core allegations.”


Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, said Monday that one of the witnesses she subpoenaed, Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of Wade’s, could testify about details of Willis and Wade’s relationship, including when the relationship began and whether people in Willis’ office knew about it. Bradley also represented Wade in his divorce case.

Willis’ lawyers argued that the claims being brought to the judge were not “facts” but “gossip.”

“The court should not condone that practice,” attorney Anna Cross said.

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