Georgia commission will soon target prosecutors as Fani Willis faces scrutiny from Republican lawmakers

Republican lawmakers have targeted ‘progressive’ prosecutors across the US

Alex Woodward
Tuesday 05 March 2024 23:42 GMT
Trump lawyers accused of trying to 'embarrass and harass' Fani Willis

A committee created by Georgia’s Republican-dominated state legislature with authority to discipline and remove prosecutors could soon derail a criminal case against Donald Trump.

The state’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp is set to approve a measure that effectively removes certain guardrails for the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, which the governor signed into law last year.

Republican officials have repeatedly targeted Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her case against the former president and more than a dozen of his allies charged under the state’s anti-racketeering law for a “criminal enterprise” to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

But GOP lawmakers have denied that the commission was established to take aim at Ms Willis, who was elected to office in 2020 and has served as Fulton County’s chief prosecutor since January 2021.

After creating the commission last year, Mr Kemp said the group would target “far-left prosecutors” who are “making our communities less safe.”

“I am not going to stand idly by as rogue or incompetent prosecutors refuse to uphold the law,” Mr Kemp said in October. “We are sending a message that we will not forfeit public safety for prosecutors to let criminals off the hook.”

But Republican lawmakers are also separately investigating allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the case against Mr Trump – a state Senate committee is set to hear testimony this week from defence attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who first raised allegations that Ms Willis employed a lead prosecutor with whom she was romantically involved, and then financially benefited from his state-funded employment.

The panel awaiting Mr Kemp’s final approval will soon be able to remove elected prosecutors it deems liable for misconduct and other offences.

Similar efforts targeting elected “progressive” prosecutors to undermine prosecutorial discretion are underway in other states, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive measures to remove two elected prosecutors and Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers’ impeachment of Philadelphia’s district attorney.

Congressional Republicans are also scrutinising Ms Willis. House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan issued a subpoena for records related to her office’s use of federal funds, while US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened ethics complaints against the Fulton County prosecutor.

In remarks on Georgia’s House floor on Tuesday, House Democratic Whip Sam Park labelled the latest measure a “partisan attempt to control and discipline prosecutors who hand down decisions that Republican politicians do not like.”

“It will be used to undermine the ongoing criminal prosecution of twice-impeached President Donald Trump,” he said.

Ms Willis and her office could be disqualified from the case against Mr Trump if the judge overseeing the case finds that the allegations are substantiated. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is expected to issue a decision in the coming days.

Defence attorneys are also seeking additional testimony from two other witnesses.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in