Georgia court agrees to hear Trump’s appeal of Fani Willis disqualification ruling

Donald Trump and eight of his co-defendants in the sprawling Rico case had labelled the refusal to disqualify the Fulton County district attorney a ‘plain legal error’

Kelly Rissman
Wednesday 08 May 2024 17:10
Related video: Moment Fani Willis slams down prosecution’s evidence in disqualification hearing

A Georgia appeals court has granted Donald Trump’s request for an appeal challenging the ruling that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis can stay on the state’s election interference case against the former president and his allies.

After weeks of contentious hearings centred around the district attorney’s romantic relationship with a fellow prosecutor, Judge Scott McAfee decided in March that Ms Willis could remain on the sprawling Rico case.

The former president and eight of his co-defendants then filed for permission to appeal against the decision, calling the court’s refusal to disqualify her a “plain legal error”.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia agreed to review the lower court ruling.

Mr Trump and his co-defendants had sought to oust the DA from the case following allegations of misconduct over her relationship with Nathan Wade, the prosecutor she had hired to lead the case.

Over the course of several days’ worth of hearings, the court heard about the romantic relationship between Ms Willis and Mr Wade.

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case on 1 March 2024 in Atlanta (AP)

Ultimately, Judge McAfee ruled that Ms Willis could stay on the case so long as Mr Wade withdrew from it in order to avoid any appearance of “impropriety”. Mr Wade stepped down from the case hours after the decision.

The defendants “failed to meet their burden” in proving a “conflict of interest” that would necessitate Ms Willis’s disqualification, the judge ruled.

In his decision, the judge noted: “This finding is by no means an indication that the court condones this tremendous lapse in judgement or the unprofessional manner of the district attorney’s testimony during the evidentiary hearing.”

It’s unclear how an appeal would affect the timing of the Georgia election interference case or whether it could go to trial before the 2024 presidential election.

Mr Trump was charged alongside former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and several other prominent allies. Four former Trump loyalists, including Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell, have pleaded guilty in the case so far.

Mr Trump is facing 10 charges in the state’s case after a judge slashed three from the indictment in March.

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