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Trump again asks judge in Georgia election case to disqualify DA Fani Willis, calling her arguments ‘preposterous’

todayFebruary 7, 2024


David Becker/Getty Images

(ATLANTA) — Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday renewed his request to the judge overseeing his Georgia election interference case to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and dismiss the indictment against him, saying that her “egregious misconduct demands” it.

The filing refers specifically to comments Willis made during a church speech in early January after the misconduct allegations were first lodged against her, during which she suggested the accusations were racially motivated.

Trump has accused her of violating her office’s ethics requirements with what he called “improper extrajudicial public comments.”

Trump’s filing came in response to Willis’ court filing last week in which top prosecutor Nathan Wade admitted to the two of them having a “personal relationship” — but in which Willis flatly denied allegations that she benefitted financially from the arrangement or that she violated conduct rules with her statements at the church.

“Defendant Trump’s motion raising public comments made by District Attorney Willis that neither reference this case nor these defendants as a basis for disqualification is transparently meritless,” Willis said in her filing last week.

Trump’s filing on Wednesday pushed back on Willis’ claim that the church statements didn’t reference the case.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said the filing by Trump attorney, Steve Sadow. “Stated succinctly, the DA’s position in its filed response is preposterous and disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst. It is an after-the-fact futile attempt to mislead this court.”

Willis, addressing the congregation last month at the Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a service to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, said, “I appointed three special counselors. It’s my right to do. Paid them all the same hourly rate.” Of the three, Willis said, “I hired one Black man.”

“They only attack one,” she said. “Isn’t it them playing the race card when they only question one?”

Trump’s filing claims Willis’ conduct in making those comments “was indeed egregious” and “undeniably unethical.”

As such, Trump renewed his call for Willis to be disqualified and for his election interference indictment to be dismissed, saying that Willis had “made a calculated and purposeful choice here to disregard her special ethical responsibilities as a prosecutor because she conceived it was in her own best interest to do so.”

“The State knows better,” the filing said. “The State knows that improper extrajudicial public comments by a prosecutor in the State of Georgia may be dealt with by disqualification.”

The filing from Trump’s attorney also appeared to reference the recent subpoena sent to Willis for her to testify at the upcoming Feb. 15 evidentiary hearing on the matter, saying he can “only hope” that at the hearing “the DA will be required to explain” the church comments “in testimony under oath,” and “who else she could have been referring to in them.”

Willis, in her filing last week, asked Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee to effectively cancel the Feb. 15 hearing, claiming that “no further factual development is necessary.”

On Wednesday, she filed additional motions seeking to quash subpoenas that had been issued to her, Wade, and seven other members of her office.

She argued in her filing that there is “no factual basis” that “could reasonably justify requiring” her and a number of her employees to become witnesses in the case, and accused election case defendant Michael Roman, who issued the subpoenas, of “an attempt to conduct discovery in a (rather belated) effort to support reckless accusations.”

The filing further claims that the investigators in her office who were subpoenaed have “no knowledge at all” of the issues raised in Roman’s motion alleging misconduct.

The filing also seeks to quash a subpoena to Wade’s former law partner, who representing him in his divorce proceeding, arguing that he is protected by attorney-client privilege.

It also seeks to quash a subpoena to Synovus Bank for Wade’s financial records, saying that Roman “cannot possibly justify such a fishing expedition.”

Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia.

Four defendants in the case subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

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