Two co-defendants in the trial concerning former President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the election have submitted motions to have Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis removed from the case.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Willis has accused Trump of orchestrating a conspiracy both within and outside of Georgia while he contested the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump, on the other hand, has maintained that his actions were within the bounds of the law.
David Shafer, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, and Cathy Latham, the former chairwoman of Coffee County Republicans, have argued that Willis is unfit to handle the case due to two reasons. Firstly, they point to the relationship between Willis and Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor in the trial, which Willis reluctantly acknowledged. Secondly, they highlight racially charged remarks made by Willis at a historic black church in January as further grounds for her disqualification.
“All the causes for the disqualification are self-inflicted blows,” said a motion filed by lawyers.
Willis has strayed “wildly from the legal guardrails that are designed to protect the accused from improper, extrajudicial comments,” per the motion.
As of now, motions to disqualify Willis have been filed by five out of the 15 individuals awaiting trial.
The motion said a hearing on the claims to boot Willis “is unseemly and an uncomfortable experience for all involved.”
But Willis and Wade took steps that were “completely avoidable errors in which the defense had no hand but are of such significance that the defense has no choice but to put them before the court,” the motion said.
Willis acknowledged in the previous week that she was involved in a personal relationship with Wade. However, she firmly asserted that this fact should not warrant her removal or the removal of her office from the case. A hearing has been scheduled for February 15th to address a motion filed by former Trump campaign aide Michael Roman, who was the initial individual to allege the relationship between Willis and Wade.
The motion said hiring Wade “to investigate and prosecute the defendants and payments to Mr. Wade of over a half a million dollars from the Fulton County treasury while allowing Mr. Wade to pay for vacations for the District Attorney and other personal expenses constitutes a disqualifying conflict of interest as well as a violation of ethical rules applicable to attorneys and Fulton County employees, and potentially criminal law,” according to Fox News.
Willis is facing criticism for remarks she made recently at Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church, where she implied that the attention on Wade, who is black, was due to race rather than the actions of other white prosecutors.
“The obvious intent of her remarks was to inject and infect the jury pool in Fulton County with unfounded allegations that anyone who dares question her or Mr. Wade’s conduct must have done so for racist purposes,” the motion said.
“These comments constitute prosecutorial, forensic misconduct and warrant her removal and that of her office from the prosecution of this case,” the motion said.
Trump’s own filing to remove Willis said she used the speech “to make racially charged, extrajudicial statements designed to defend against, as well as divert and deflect attention from, the alleged misconduct outlined in Roman’s motion.”
During Willis’s speech in a religious setting she “repeatedly and inappropriately injected race into the case and stoked racial animus by, among other statements, asking God why the defendants were questioning her conduct in hiring a black man but not his white counterparts, and why the judgment of a black female Democrat wasn’t as good as white male Republicans.”
Willis was quoted as saying, “First thing they say. Oh, she going to play the race card now? But no. God, isn’t it them who’s playing the race card when they only question one?”
The filing said Willis’s “extrajudicial comments” amount to “a glaring, flagrant, and calculated effort to foment racial bias into this case by publicly denouncing the defendants for somehow daring to question her decision to hire a black man (without also mentioning that she is alleged to have had a workplace affair with the same man) to be a special prosecutor.”