Fani Willis Urges Appeals Court Not To Reconsider Ruling Letting Her Stay On Trump Case

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office urged a Georgia appeals court Monday not to take up defendants’ appeal of the decision allowing her to stay on the case against former President Donald Trump.

Willis told the Georgia Court of Appeals in a filing Monday it should reject defendants’ continued efforts to disqualify her, noting that Judge Scott McAfee found “the evidence insufficient to establish any actual conflict of interest and declined to dismiss the indictment.” McAfee’s March ruling allowed Willis to remain on the case if special prosecutor Nathan Wade, who she was in a relationship with and was accused of financially benefiting from appointing, stepped down.

Willis argued Monday the appeal only reflects defendants’ “dissatisfaction” with the outcome based on “proper application of well-established law to the facts.” (RELATED: Judge Allows Trump And Co-Defendants To Appeal Fani Willis Ruling)

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – APRIL 02: Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally on April 02, 2024 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. At the rally, Trump spoke next to an empty lectern on the stage and challenged President Joe Biden to debate him. The Wisconsin primary is being held today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AUGUST 14: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during 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)

“Days of evidence and testimony failed to disclose anything like a calculated pre-trial plan designed to prejudice the defendants or secure their convictions,” the filing states. “The applicants have not identified any public statement injecting the District Attorney’s personal belief as to the defendants’ guilt or appealing to the public weighing of evidence.”

While McAfee did not find the defendants were able to prove an “actual” conflict of interest, he said the record highlighted “a significant appearance of impropriety.” He said there were “reasonable questions” about the truthfulness of Willis’ and Wade’s testimony about the timing of their relationship.

McAfee granted the defendants a certificate of review late March enabling them to appeal his ruling.

Willis argued that the appeal should be rejected because McAfee made “no factual finding of false testimony or a false affidavit.”

“In requesting a contrary finding on this issue, the applicants would have this Court invade the province of the trial court and make additional factual findings,” the filing said. “This it cannot do.”

ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 15: Attorney Fani Willis speaks from a witness stand to attorney Ashleigh Merchant during a hearing in the case of State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on February 15, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge Scott McAfee is hearing testimony as to whether DA Fani Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade should be disqualified from the case for allegedly lying about a personal relationship. (Photo by Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 01: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, left and prosecutor Daysha Young, right, speak to each other 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, Georgia. The hearing is to determine whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should be removed from the case because of a relationship with Nathan Wade, special prosecutor she hired in the election interference case against former President Donald Trump. (Photo by Alex Slitz-Pool/Getty Images)

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – APRIL 06: Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump (R) and former first lady Melania Trump (2nd-R) arrive at the home of John Paulson (L) with Alina de Almeida (2nd-L) on April 6, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s campaign is expecting to raise more than 40 million dollars, when major donors gather for a fundraiser billed as the “Inaugural Leadership Dinner”. (Photo by Alon Skuy/Getty Images)

Her filing also defended Willis’ “church speech” in January, where she suggested Nathan Wade was being attacked because of his race and falsely claimed she was paying all three special prosecutors the same amount.

“Insofar as the District Attorney delivered a speech at a local church, the trial court concluded the speech did not ‘cross the line’ because it failed to name any defendant; it did not disclose sensitive or confidential evidence; it did not address the merits of the indicted offenses to move the trial to the court of public opinion; and further, the case is too far removed from jury selection for any actual prejudice or improper effect on the jury pool to actualize,” she wrote.

McAfee’s ruling stated the speech was “legally improper” and “creates dangerous waters for the District Attorney to wade further into,” though he found it did not require disqualification.

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