‘Things Could Really Go Off The Rails’: Legal Ethics Expert Calls For Fani Willis To ‘Step Aside’ From Trump Case

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A legal ethics expert in Georgia called for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to “step aside” to preserve the case against former President Donald Trump in a Wednesday New York Times op-ed.

Attorneys for Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign aide, filed a motion Jan.8 alleging that Willis, who hired Nathan Wade as a special prosecutor to help probe and prosecute the former president, was in a romantic relationship with him. Georgia State University law professor Clark D. Cunningham warned in the NYT op-ed that the effects on the case could be substantial  if Willis was disqualified. (RELATED: ‘She’s Going To Have Her Hands Full’: Trump Attorney Rips Fani Willis For ‘Slew Of Corruption,’ ‘Election Interference’)

“I believe the judicious and farsighted course would be for Ms. Willis to take a personal leave of absence and turn over control of the district attorney’s office, and the case against Mr. Trump, to a career deputy district attorney,” Cunningham wrote. “Doing so would be an act of public service by Ms. Willis — and more important, offer the best option for keeping the criminal case on track and holding Mr. Trump and his co-defendants accountable for their actions in the 2020 election if that is the just outcome.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives to speak at a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. A grand jury today handed up an indictment naming former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies over an alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Willis secured an indictment against Trump and other defendants, including Roman, in August over the former president’s alleged efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, which Joe Biden won by less than 12,000 votes.

Cunningham pointed to Willis’ disqualification in the probe into Republican Lieutenant Gov. Burt Jones of Georgia as an example of the stakes.

“If Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade are dismissed by Judge McAfee, it will be up to a state agency, the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, to appoint a prosecutor to take over from Ms. Willis,” Cunningham wrote. “And that’s where things could really go off the rails. Take one precedent: On July 25, 2022, Ms. Willis was disqualified from prosecuting Burt Jones, who was then a state senator, after she hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Jones’s eventual opponent in the race for lieutenant governor. Eighteen months later, the PACGA still hasn’t appointed a special prosecutor, and Mr. Jones, now lieutenant governor, has not even been indicted.”

“Delay is not even the worst possible outcome for the case if Ms. Willis is disqualified,” Cunningham continued. “A special prosecutor could decide to reduce or dismiss charges against some or all of the defendants, including Mr. Trump.”

Willis accused her critics of “playing the race card” while falsely claiming she paid the outside prosecutors the same rate in a Jan. 14 address at Big Bethel AME Church.

Willis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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