Fani Willis’s Affair Could Potentially Delay Trump’s Georgia Trial, Judge’s Decision Awaited

Source: Flickr

The world has been watching and waiting for the Georgia trial of Former President Donald Trump. He’s accused of election fraud and Trump is being prosecuted by Fani Willis. The high-profile case has been in the headlines thanks to Willis’ affair with Nathan Wade, the investigator she appointed. Experts say the hearings could postpone the trial.

What Are The Charges Against Trump In Georgia?

Donald Trump was indicted in Georgia on August 14, 2023. The charges against him include election fraud and related charges. Some of the specific charges include conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, filing false documents, and impersonating a public official. He’s also charged under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) ActSource:

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The RICO Act is one that’s used specifically to go after organized crime. Eighteen other defendants were indicted alongside Mr. Trump. Four of these have taken plea deals already, something which strengthens the case against Trump. If he were to be convicted on all charges, Trump could spend 76 years in prison–essentially a life sentence.

Who Is Fani Willis?

Fani Willis is the District Attorney of Fulton County in Georgia. She has held that position since 2021 and is the first woman ever to hold it. Even before investigating the Trump case, she was known for using Georgia’s RICO Act against non-mobsters. She was responsible for gathering information about Trump’s activities to overthrow the 2020 Georgia election.

Source: Twitter/@Taniabanks24

The investigation into Trump was opened on February 10 of 2021. After nearly a year of investigation, Willis requested a special grand jury in January, 2022. The grand jury convened in May of that year. After hearing from 75 witnesses, the grand jury returned indictments against Trump and his co-conspirators in August. The trial is slated to begin in August.

What Are The Accusations Against Fani Willis?

Donald Trump and some of his co-defendants have asked for Fani Willis and Nathan Wade to be removed from the case. They have presented evidence of Willis’ affair with Wade. They have also made unproven accusations that some of the funds requisitioned for the investigation were used for romantic getaways by Wade and Willis.

Source: AP/Alyssa Pointer and John Bazemore

Both Willis and Wade have said they used their own money for the trips. Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee has been presiding over the hearings. His decision will determine whether Fani Willis may prosecute the case and, potentially, whether evidence gathered by Wade will be heard in the election fraud trial in August.

Who Is Judge Scott McAfee?

Judge Scott McAfee is a former Fulton County and federal prosecutor. He’s politically conservative, which might seem to favor the Trump team in the hearings. He was appointed to the Superior Court by Georgia’s Republican Governor, Brian Kemp, in February of 2023. His selection to preside over the election case was random.

Source: Superior Court of Fulton County

At just 34 years of age, Judge McAfee is young to be presiding over such an impactful case. Some of his colleagues have been interviewed. They characterize him as wise beyond his years. Some said that he will examine the evidence and apply the law without any bias. McAfee has said that he has a high bar for disqualification of a prosecutor.

Could Fani Willis Be Disqualified?

Georgia law makes it unlikely that Fani Willis will be disqualified or removed from office, even if Judge McAfee favors the defendants. Trump’s legal team has claimed that the affair between Willis and Wade began before she appointed him to investigate the case. They say that there’s a conflict of interest, although it’s unclear what that would be.

Source: Alyssa Pointer-Pool

The bigger question, according to some legal experts, is that the hearings about Willis and Wade have taken up a lot of time. They’ve been going on for six weeks. There’s a chance that the delay could push the election fraud trial back to either right before or right after election day.

Who Would Be Helped Or Hurt By A Delay?

One of the biggest questions about the Fani Willis hearings is whether their length could delay the criminal proceedings against Trump. Some have said there’s a possibility that the case could be pushed back until after the election. Given the public’s right to know if a presidential candidate committed fraud, that could be a huge problem for the country.

Source: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

A Reuters poll from early February 2024 found that more than half of Republican voters said they wouldn’t vote for Trump if he were convicted. As a reminder, Trump has a total of 91 felony charges pending against him. Conviction could destroy his chances of winning. It’s undeniable that a delay in the trial favors Trump more than it favors the prosecution.

What Happens Next?

The most recent development in the case against Willis is that McAfee has announced a hearing date on March 1 for closing arguments. The defendants have asked to introduce statements by Wade’s divorce attorney, Terrence Bradley. McAfee has said he will discuss that issue “in camera ,” a legal term referring to a private meeting.

Source: Alyssa Pointer-Pool

Some have speculated that Bradley might have information that could prove or disprove when the Willis/Wade affair began. If it started prior to Wade’s appointment by Willis, which could show impropriety. Wade has argued that Bradley’s testimony would violate attorney-client privilege and should not be allowed.

When Could McAfee Return His Decision?

The next important date in the hearings is March 1. It’s common for judges to take some time before handing down a ruling. Some who are familiar with McAfee have said that he’s often “quite fast with turning orders around.” That may not mean that he’ll be quick this time given the importance of his ruling.

Source: Erik S. Lesser-Pool

One of McAfee’s colleagues, Anna Bower, said that although McAfee could rule at any time after the March 1 meeting, he may wait a while to announce his ruling. She said, “I suspect he’ll want to be particularly careful with this decision. I suspect we won’t see an order until the second week of March at the earliest.

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Aimee Partridge

Written by Aimee Partridge

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