Fulton County DA Willis rebuts Trump’s efforts to remove her from 2020 election probe

Scales of Justice with the word justice over it.

by Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]

May 16, 2023

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is rebuking Donald Trump’s attorneys’ claims that she should be dismissed from an investigation into his interference in the 2020 presidential election due to alleged political bias and a tainted investigation.

The Democratic district attorney filed a 24-page response on Monday to the former Republican president’s motion for her removal from an investigation that could put Trump in legal peril. Trump is also seeking to block the release of the special grand jury report that accused multiple witnesses of committing perjury while testifying to the panel last year.

Trump’s attorneys had argued in a motion filed in March that Willis harbors a political bias and she should be disqualified from the case. Prosecutors in Fulton pointed out on Monday that no criminal charges have been filed against anyone in the case and disapproval of comments made by Willis or other Fulton court officials did not justify disqualifying her office.

The Fulton D.A. also rejected Trump’s attorneys’ claims that Georgia’s law for a special grand jury is unconstitutionally vague. The special panel heard from 75 witnesses over the course of eight months last year weighing whether Trump and his allies broke any laws by trying to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia to President Joe Biden.

Special grand juries in Georgia have more time to investigate than regular grand juries, but are not able to issue criminal indictments.

“They refer vaguely to violations of their own due process rights arising from a ‘tainted’ grand jury process without making a showing demonstrating the existence of either,” Willis said in the motion. 

According to Willis, Trump’s lawyers didn’t provide a valid reason to challenge the proceedings before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney simply because Trump disagreed with his decisions in the past.

McBurney has publicly released several sections of the report with limited details on the case, but has said that as the case progresses that more portions will become available.

Willis launched the investigation in early 2022 after the public release of a recording of a phone conversation in which Trump asked Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough votes to declare him the winner of Georgia’s November 2020 general election. Raffensperger refused Trump’s overtures as Biden won the closely contested race by nearly 12,000 votes over the Republican incumbent. 

Immediately after the Georgia election, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, held court before state Senate and House legislators at committee hearings where he and others spread wild conspiracy theories of widespread election fraud, urging lawmakers to intervene to stop Biden from winning.

Among the witnesses to appear before the Fulton panel last year was Giuliani former chief of staff Mark Meadows and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. Among the other witnesses were fake Republican electors who cast their votes for an alternate slate in support of Trump, even as the official Democratic electoral votes for Biden were being cast. 

Willis also responded Monday to a motion for her removal filed by attorneys representing Cathy Latham, an ex-Coffee County GOP chair turned false Republican elector in 2020. 

Willis rebutted Latham’s claims that the special grand jury was unconstitutional and argued that her legal challenge was without merit since Latham did not testify or face any charges.

On May 10, Willis halted her attempt to disqualify attorney Kimberly Burroughs Debrow from representing 10 of the fake GOP electors because of concerns about a conflict of interest. In a court filing, Willis said she no longer opposed Debrow staying on the case since several of her defendants without immunity have hired other counsel.

Willis has notified Atlanta-area law enforcement to prepare to provide extra security late this summer in the expectation she could bring charges in that timeframe. 

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