Two co-defendants in the election interference prosecution of former President Donald Trump have submitted motions to have Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis removed from the case.
Willis asserted that Trump orchestrated a conspiracy within and beyond Georgia during the months he resisted the 2020 presidential election results. Trump has stated that his opposition to the results did not violate any laws.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former Coffee County Republican Chairwoman Cathy Latham and former state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer have both stated that Willis has two complaints against her.
Shafer and Latham stated that Willis should be disqualified on the grounds of her reticently admitted relationship with Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor in the case, and her racially charged remarks made in January at a historic black church.
“All the causes for the disqualification are self-inflicted blows,” said a motion filed by lawyers for Shafer, which was adopted by Latham.
Willis has strayed “wildly from the legal guardrails that are designed to protect the accused from improper, extrajudicial comments,” per the motion.
Five of the fifteen individuals awaiting trial have filed motions to disqualify Willis as of this moment.
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 her involvement in a personal relationship with Wade a week ago, but she insisted that this should not result in the dismissal of her or her office from the case. For February 15, a hearing is scheduled on a petition to remove Willis filed by former Trump campaign aide Michael Roman. Roman first made the assertion that Willis and Wade were romantically involved.
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 has also been criticized for remarks she delivered last month at the Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta, where she implied that the emphasis on Wade, a black prosecutor, rather than other white prosecutors was due to race.
“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.
A filing from Trump last month to oust 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.”
The filing said that 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.”
The filing quoted Willis 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.”