Judge in Fani Willis Possible Disqualification Case Gives Timeline

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will learn in the next two weeks whether a judge will disqualify her from the Trump-Georgia election interference case.

Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee announced this after hearing closing arguments from several lawyers involved in the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others.

“The decision will come down to whether the judge believes Willis had a financial incentive to hire special prosecutor Nathan Wade for the case. Willis and Wade admitted to a romantic relationship, but the timeframe of that relationship was the crux of the argument about whether the relationship was improper,” AOL reported.

Willis has been accused of having an affair with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, which lawyers contend created a conflict of interest and could compromise one of the four criminal cases against Trump.

While Willis’ office argues that there is no proof of any financial or professional impropriety resulting from their connection, critics claim that the relationship erodes public confidence in the prosecution.

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Days of dramatic testimony have dominated the case, focusing as much on the personal lives of the prosecutors as on the claims of election meddling.

Concerning the possible message that Willis and Wade’s continued involvement in the case might convey, the defense has accused them of lying about the timeline of their relationship.

Several attorneys and law experts believe that Willis could be in as much legal trouble as Trump and his remaining co-defendants in the RICO case she brought against them regarding the 2020 election.

The experts believe that sworn testimony she gave to a court regarding the start date of her relationship with a special prosecutor she hired to assist with the case, Nathan Hale, could result in perjury charges.

Willis testified under oath last month that she and Wade only started dating following Trump’s indictment, a claim the former president’s attorneys claim they can refute with phone records. Also, a couple of witnesses have said that Willis and Wade began seeing each other romantically much sooner.

Several legal experts spoke to Newsweek and expressed concerns about Willis’ testimony.

Willis, a Democrat, may face charges of perjury from Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr, according to Eric Anderson, an attorney at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae in Los Angeles, California.

“Given the political climate, I would not be completely surprised if the attorney general, a Republican, acts. Attorney General Carr has shown a willingness to take on elected officials in criminal proceedings before,” Anderson said.

“When it comes to politics, anything is possible. Unless the alleged perjury is about a fact material to the matter at hand, perjury charges are not likely for a regular witness,” Anderson added.

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, told Newsweek that Trump’s lawyers want “to shift the question before the court from disqualification to perjury.”

“The judge should focus on the real disqualification question here. Is there any basis to find that Willis chose to pursue the case to generate income for Wade, which he would then use to take her on luxury trips?” Gillers added.

“The answer is no. Willis started her investigation in February 2021 and did not hire Wade, who was not her first choice, until nine months later. She got an indictment and four guilty pleas,” Gillers said.

“Her successes so far rebut any suggestion that she brought or continued the case to generate fees for Wade. To the contrary, her successes so far tell us she did so because in fact it is a meritorious case,” Gillers added.

One law professor at Syracuse University in New York, Greg Germain, also told Newsweek that there may be charges of perjury against the district attorney.

“Willis could certainly be charged with perjury if a prosecutor can prove that Willis knowingly lied under oath. The matter would have to be referred to a prosecutor, presumably from another DA office or state or federal prosecutor, to bring the charges. It is not common for people to be charged with perjury for lying under oath about a personal relationship, but it certainly has happened in high-profile cases like Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski. So yes, a perjury prosecution is possible,” Germain said.

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Noted constitutional law expert and Georgetown University Law School Prof. Jonathan Turley delivered some bad news to Willis last week as well, following a rowdy court session in which she may have perjured herself.

“The astonishing thing about this is that you have two prosecutors who stand accused of filing false statements in court,” Turley said during a Fox News segment. “Mr. Wade is accused of answering interrogatories falsely. And Willis is accused of making false statements in her filings. That’s what they’re prosecuting defendants in the case for.”

“My question is, will he refer these two to the bar? There are allegations of false statements being filed. Their testimony did not help in that respect. And so will [Judge Scott McAfee] say, ‘Look, I’m going to suggest that one or both of you remove yourselves or maybe even order it, but I am also going to ask the bar to look into these allegations’?”

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