April 22, 2024

OPINION: Fani Willis’ descent from the accuser to the accused – AJC

Fani Willis’ descent from the accuser to the accused – Patricia Murphy column, AJC

The tables turned so quickly on Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis Thursday that even she seemed not to have adjusted to her new role in the courtroom as Judge Scott McAfee heard arguments about whether she and her team should be disqualified from prosecuting the Donald Trump election conspiracy case.

The tables turned so quickly on Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis Thursday that even she seemed not to have adjusted to her new role in the courtroom as Judge Scott McAfee heard arguments about whether she and her team should be disqualified from prosecuting the Donald Trump election conspiracy case.

“You’re confused. You think I’m on trial,” Willis told Ashleigh Merchant, the lawyer who brought the original complaint accusing the DA of having a romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade. “These (defendants) are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

Willis may not technically be on trial, but her credibility is, as is her judgment, after she launched the most high-profile prosecution in Georgia history, against a former president no less, and then became romantically involved with the still-married man she hired to lead the case.

In her decision Thursday to take the stand in her own defense, even before McAfee ruled that she had to, Willis took herself from being the accuser to the unfamiliar role of being the accused.

The about-face was hard to absorb for anyone who has seen Willis in action in Fulton County up to this point. After defeating her own boss for election in 2020, she burst onto the scene in Atlanta as a clear-eyed murder prosecutor. She quickly clashed with the Fulton County Commission, not because she wanted to prosecute fewer violent crimes in the county, but because she said she wanted to prosecute more.

Republican lawmakers in the state Capitol liked what they heard and quickly found common ground with Willis and her zeal to put gang bangers and kid killers behind bars.

“I want people to know we’re killing ourselves and that failure is not an option,” Willis told me in an interview in her office less than a year into the job. “I want people to know that I continue to continue to work hard, make my people miss weekends and work long hours, that this is my entire life and I’m committed to them.”

That was in September of 2021. By then, Willis had opened what she called a narrow investigation into former President Donald Trump for possible election interference. But she had not yet hired Wade to be a special prosecutor on the case, nor, by her telling Thursday, had they started their romantic relationship.

Why Willis and Wade would start that relationship, even as they pursued the famously ruthless former president and dug deeper into the case that was watched by millions may be one of life’s great mysteries.

The details that emerged on Thursday only made Willis’ private conduct more confounding. There was a trip to Belize with Wade. Wine pairings in Napa Valley. A cruise to the Caribbean. Lunches and dinners out. Who has that kind of time, let alone if you’re prosecuting a former president in the trial of the century?

As Merchant and the other defense attorneys pushed Willis for more information, she occasionally became angry and indignant. She batted away questions with the short temper of the prosecutor she usually is, not the defendant she became.

“Don’t be cute with me,” Willis snapped at Merchant at one point.

Later, she became so incensed with Merchant that McAfee declared Willis a hostile witness. “I’m not a hostile witness,” she shot back. “Ms. Merchant’s interests are contrary to democracy, your honor, not to mine.”

It wasn’t all fireworks in the courtroom Thursday. Nathan Wade, who has essentially been accused of being an unqualified stooge, was professional, calm and collected. He answered only what was asked and undercut much of what Merchant insinuated about him with precision and detail.

In fact, it was such smooth sailing after Wade’s testimony that McAfee seemed disinclined to let the defense attorneys call Willis to the stand. But that’s when she burst into the courtroom in a scene dramatic enough for the sequel to A Few Good Men. “I’m ready to go,” she declared.

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Jesse Watters: Where Did Fani Willis get this cash?

MAZE on Twitter: “2020. Fani Willis is asked why the people of Fulton County should support her for District Attorney.”Because they deserve a DA that won’t have sex with his employees, because they deserve a DA that won’t put money in their own pocket.” pic.twitter.com/uo8wD1wnnR / Twitter”

2020. Fani Willis is asked why the people of Fulton County should support her for District Attorney.”Because they deserve a DA that won’t have sex with his employees, because they deserve a DA that won’t put money in their own pocket.” pic.twitter.com/uo8wD1wnnR


‘Outrageous Behavior’: Victor Davis Hanson Lays Out Predictions For Willis Following Her Testimony

‘Outrageous Behavior’: Victor Davis Hanson Lays Out Predictions For Willis Following Her Testimony

Hoover institute senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson predicted Willis will be disqualified from her case against Trump, calling out her “outrageous behavior.”

Hoover Institute senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson predicted Thursday on Fox Business that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will be disqualified from her case against former President Trump, calling out her “outrageous behavior.”

Hanson appeared on “The Bottom Line” to discuss Willis taking the stand at her Thursday hearing. During Willis’ testimony, she launched into a rant claiming that the motions against her were lies.

Fox co-host Dagen McDowell asked the senior fellow his thoughts regarding Willis’ testimony and if he believed she would be disqualified from her case. 

“Yeah, I do. I don’t think you can have the chief prosecutor of one of the largest counties in the United States, who is trying a historic case on [a] rival in the history of presidential politics, who just flatly admits she takes out thousands of dollars in cash,” Hanson said. “And then she reimburses her paramour by carrying thousands of dollars of cash along with her and gives him the money back, she says, as a remittance without any confirmation – no written document, no signature.”

‘Outrageous Behavior’: Victor Davis Hanson Lays Out Predictions For Willis Following Her Testimony

‘Outrageous Behavior’: Victor Davis Hanson Lays Out Predictions For Willis Following Her Testimony

Hanson then said he believed people who heard the testimony would question why Willis would pay fellow attorney and romantic partner Nathan Wade “in cash.”

“I think people who will listen to that will say to themselves, ‘Well the only reason that you would pay him back in cash is you didn’t want the record of a credit card or personal check,’ which would have been far easier and safer,” Hanson said. “So why would you pay him back in cash? Her explanation is – she plays the race card again and again. That it’s characteristic of Black families – their father instructs young black women to have more money, and et cetera. That doesn’t wash.”

“It was just ridiculous, everybody knows why people do things in cash – it’s primarily to avoid a written record. When you’re chief prosecutor in charge of prosecuting the laws and making sure that you follow jurisprudence and you’re doing that  there has to be a reason why. She couldn’t explain it,” Hanson continued. “Then when she lost her temper and she conducted herself in a nonprofessional way, and she was indulged I thought really way over the limits of tolerance by the judge. He kept trying to rationalize or contextualize her outrageous behavior. I just think it came off bad and people are going to say, ‘This person is in charge of prosecuting the leading candidate for the presidency of the United States?’”

Reports surfaced of Willis and Wade’s relationship in early January after a court motion was filed by former Trump campaign official Michael Roman, who had been named within Willis’ indictment. The filing detailed allegations of the relationship between the two, claiming that Willis had financially benefited from the relationship after appointing Wade as special prosecutor on her case.

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