Atlanta DA Fani Willis testifies in hearing that may disqualify her from Trump case – National & International News – THU 15Feb2024



Atlanta DA Fani Willis testifies in hearing that may disqualify her from Trump case.

DOJ prosecutor who cited Biden’s “poor memory” to testify in Congress.


Atlanta DA Fani Willis testifies in hearing that may disqualify her from Trump case

Fulton County, GA, District Attorney Fani Willis testified today in an evidentiary hearing that may determine whether or not she will be allowed to prosecute the case against Donald Trump and 17 other defendants for their attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia. Attorneys for one of Trump’s co-defendants, Michael Roman, has accused Willis of profiting from her prosecution of the case.

Willis has admitted to having an affair with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor hired by Willis to oversee the prosecution. Wade was paid some $600,000 by Fulton County and, Roman’s attorneys contend, used that money to go on romantic getaways with Willis. Judge Scott McAfee must determine whether the facts match the allegations (there is some dispute on that) and whether the facts rise to the level of a conflict of interest for DA Willis.

In her testimony today, Willis admitted the affair with Wade, but said the relationship began months after she hired him to prosecute Trump’s case. However, a former friend and colleague of Willis said she had “no doubt” the affair had already begun before Willis hired Wade. Wade also testified that his relationship with Willis began about four months into the Trump case. He also said that Willis was a “proud” woman and that their travel expenses were shared more or less equally. Both Willis and Wade forcefully denied any wrongdoing.

Possible outcomes for Trump case

If Judge McAfee decides there is no conflict of interest, the case will move ahead as planned, possibly this year. However, if the judge decides there is a conflict of interest, DA Willis and her office will be removed from the case. That does not mean the prosecution or the case go away, but it will mean the state prosecutor’s office will have to appoint a special counsel.

In 2022, Willis was barred from prosecuting a case against Burt Jones, an accused fake elector in the Georgia election scheme. The judge found a conflict of interest in the case because Willis had previously hosted a fundraiser for Jones’ political opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race. Eighteen months later, there has been no appointment to prosecute the Jones case. A similar outcome is likely in the Trump case, which may push any trial far off into the future.


DOJ prosecutor who cited Biden’s “poor memory” to testify in Congress

Special Counsel Robert Hur, who led the investigation into President Biden’s unlawful retention of classified documents, will testify before the House Judiciary committee next month. Last week, Hur issued his report following a year-long investigation. Hur found that Biden had “willfully” retained classified documents dating from this time as Obama’s Vice President, and had shared classified information with a ghostwriter in 2017.

Despite these being serious offenses, Hur did not believe that there was a sufficient case to bring to a jury. In the report, Hur explained his rationale, saying that Biden “would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

This and other troubling revelations on what Hur described as Biden’s “diminished facilities” provoked a backlash from Democrats. The House Judiciary Committee has since called Hur to testify publicly on March 12, and Hur has agreed. The committee also requested audio recordings and transcripts related to Hur’s investigation, including recordings of Hur’s interview with Biden.

Charges of bias

Democrats, and some Biden attorneys, slammed Hur’s report and called his description of Biden’s memory lapses as “gratuitous” and “inappropriate”. They also questioned why, if Hur wasn’t bringing a case, it was necessary to mention it at all.

Much was made of the fact that Hur is a Republican and a Trump appointee. However, former colleagues of Hur’s, including Rod Rosenstein under whom he worked during the Trump administration, said Hur is by no means a MAGA loyalist. “Rob plays it straight,” Rosenstein said. “I think he wrote in that report what he believed to be the relevant facts in play as to whether or not to bring criminal charges”.

Hur’s report got another important vote of confidence from his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland. Garland appointed Hur to lead the case, likely to fend off Republican accusations of bias in the event no charges were filed. Garland viewed Hur’s report before publicly releasing it, unredacted. Any changes to the report would have required Garland to notify Congress. In a letter released with the report, Garland said he’d not prevented Hur from pursuing any lines of inquiry because Hur did nothing “so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued”.  


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