Trump lawyers blast Georgia DA Fani Willis for ‘Hail Mary’ effort to avoid scrutiny of her ‘misconduct’

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis’ “Hail Mary” court filing to halt a court appeal is “an obvious attempt” to prevent discovery of her “misconduct,” according to attorneys for former President Trump.

Last week, Wills argued that the Fulton County Superior Court found there was no sufficient evidence to support their claims that she had a conflict of interest, saying there is “no basis” to appeal Judge Scott McAfee’s March ruling allowing the Atlanta prosecutor to stay on the case.

However, in a legal filing Thursday, Trump attorneys told the Georgia Court of Appeals that “without citation to any applicable authority, the State filed this ‘Hail Mary’ motion to dismiss these meritorious appeals, accusing this Court of ‘improvidently’ granting interlocutory review. There is no proper procedural vehicle for the State to relitigate this Court’s sound decision to hear the merits.” 

“President Trump has filed his response in opposition to the State’s meritless motion to dismiss the interlocutory appeal,” Steve Sadow, lead counsel for Trump said in a statement. “The Georgia Court of Appeals granted us the right to appeal after due and proper consideration. The State’s “Hail Mary” motion is an obvious attempt to stop appellate review of DA Willis’ misconduct.”


Fani Willis closeup

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Buckhead, Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

“We are optimistic that the Court will deny the motion and proceed to favorably decide the appeal on the merits,” he said.

Trump and several co-defendants alleged earlier this year that Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade were romantically involved prior to his hiring and that she financially benefited from the relationship, allegations they both have denied.

Judge McAfee’s order in March said that Wade had to be removed in order to keep Willis from disqualification in the Trump election interference case in Georgia. McAfee allowed the defense to appeal his ruling, and the appeals court announced last week that it will hear the defense’s case to still have Willis disqualified. 

The appeals court agreed to hear the case on Oct. 4 and paused all other litigation concerning Trump and those defendants until the disqualification matter is settled. 

“The State’s motion to dismiss the interlocutory appeal, which has already been permitted by the Court of Appeals, appears to be a last ditch effort to stop any appellate review of DA Willis’ misconduct,” Sadow said in a statement Wednesday. 


Fani Willis in courtroom

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis looks on during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on March 1, 2024 in Atlanta. (Photo by Alex Slitz-Pool/Getty Images)

“The State’s motion deliberately failed to mention that Judge McAfee’s ruling stated an ‘odor of mendacity remains’ from the hearing testimony by the DA and the State’s witnesses. The judge also said there were “reasonable questions” as to whether Willis and former prosecutor Wade testified untruthfully. The State has tried this gambit before with no success,” he said. 

Both Wade and Willis denied they were in a romantic relationship prior to his hiring and insisted that the couple split the costs of their shared travels. Willis said she reimbursed Wade for her share of the trips in cash.

In his March order, McAfee said while Willis’ “reimbursement practice” was “unusual and the lack of any documentary corroboration understandably concerning,” he ultimately decided that the defendants did not present “sufficient evidence” that expenses were not “roughly divided evenly.” 

He also said that “the evidence demonstrated that the financial gain flowing from her relationship with Wade was not a motivating factor on the part of the District Attorney to indict and prosecute this case.”

In February, Judge McAfee held a two-day evidentiary hearing where the defense, led by attorney Ashley Merchant, set out to expose a money trail that would mean Willis has a conflict of interest in the case against Trump and should be disqualified.


Donald Trump at defense table in courtroom

Former President Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

“[T]he Court finds that the record made at the evidentiary hearing established that the District Attorney’s prosecution is encumbered by an appearance of impropriety,” McAfee wrote in his order.

“As the case moves forward, reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit to the District Attorney, or even whether the romantic relationship has resumed.”

“Put differently, an outsider could reasonably think that the District Attorney is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences. As long as Wade remains on the case, this unnecessary perception will persist,” he said.


Wade resigned from the DA’s office after McAfee’s ruling.

When the defense in March submitted a joint motion for a Certificate of Immediate Review, McAfee said that his Order on the Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss and Disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney issued March 15 “is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had” and allowed the defendants to ask the Georgia appeals court for an opportunity to appeal, which the court granted last month.  

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