Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Fulton County DA asks appeals court to keep her on Trump case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to move forward with her election interference case against former President Donald Trump. 

Willis has asked an appeals court to reject a request from Trump and other defendants to toss her from the case. Willis said Trump and the others simply didn’t like the decision of the lower court. 

“There being no error by the trial court, the present application merely reflects the applicants’ dissatisfaction with the trial court’s proper application of well-established law to the facts,” Willis and her team wrote in the 19-page brief. “Because the applicants have wholly failed to carry their burden of persuasion, this Court should decline interlocutory review.”

Trump wants Willis off the case. Last month, Trump and eight other defendants appealed a judge’s decision to allow Willis to remain on the case after she had a romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor in the case.

“While the trial court factually found DA Willis’s out-of-court statements were improper and Defendants proved an apparent conflict of interest, the trial court erred as a matter of law by not requiring dismissal and DA Willis disqualification,” attorneys for Trump and eight other defendants wrote in the appeal. “This legal error requires the Court’s immediate review.”

Judge Scott McAfee, overseeing Trump’s election interference racketeering case in Georgia, said Willis could remain on the case if she removed lead prosecutor Nathan Wade, her one-time lover. Wade resigned after that ruling.

In August 2023, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others on charges they tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The case took a turn after Trump co-defendant Michael Roman discovered evidence of a romance between Willis and Wade. Trump’s appeal stemmed from that conduct along with a speech Willis delivered at a local church.

In the appeal application, attorneys for the defense said the trial court error was significant. They also said it would prove costly for Fulton County.

“It is neither prudent nor efficient to require the courts, the parties, or taxpayers to run the significant and avoidable risk of having to go through this painful, divisive, and expensive process more than once when an existing structural error can be remedied by this Court now,” the defense wrote.

The defense argued both Willis and Wade must be removed. They also cited a speech Willis gave at a church amounted to misconduct.

Willis countered in her brief. 

“Days of evidence and testimony failed to disclose anything like a calculated pre-trial plan designed to prejudice the defendants or secure their convictions,” prosecutors wrote in the brief. “The applicants have not identified any public statement injecting the District Attorney’s personal belief as to the defendants’ guilt or appealing to the public weighing of evidence.”