Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Fani Willis misconduct allegations closing arguments are to be presented to Judge Scott McAfee today

By 37ci3 Mar1,2024

ATLANTA – The judge presiding over the trial election interference case Donald Trump and his co-defendants said Friday that he expects Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis to rule on whether to disbar her within the next two weeks — a move that, if granted, could bolster the racketeering case against the former president.

Attorneys for the defendants in the case, including Trump, and attorneys from the DA’s office presented closing arguments in the case to Judge Scott McAfee. Attorneys for the defendants argued that Willis should be fired because of the “appearance” of a conflict of interest stemming from a romantic relationship with the special prosecutor he appointed to the case.

Adam Abbate, an attorney for the DA’s office, said Willis was the target of a “smear campaign” that included allegations from people who had an ax to grind against him, and the motion should be dismissed.

The judge said at the end of the more than three-hour hearing that he was “very clear with the argument made today” and that “I have to make a few factual determinations.”

“I’m going to take my time to make sure I look at this case fully. I hope to have an answer for everyone in the next two weeks,” McAfee said.

The odds are high — if Willis is ousted because of allegations of misconduct, all of him office will be disqualifiedalso, the new prosecutor will have to take on the sprawling case alleging that Trump and his allies conspired to illegally overturn the state’s election results.

One of Trump’s associates, former Trump White House and campaign staffer Michael Roman, filed a motion to disqualify Willis and dismiss the criminal case. Roman and later Trump blamed him “improper” personal relationships with attorney Nathan Wade appointed as special prosecutor in the case.

“We are here today to disqualify DA Willis and his office for his decision,” Roman’s attorney, John Merchant, told the judge. conflict of interest at work, just the “appearance” of one.

“Why did we spend so much time on the relationship between these two people? Frankly, we couldn’t care less if they had personal relationships outside of work. This is not the issue here. The thing is, they started this relationship in 2019,” and Willis signed her two years later, Merchant said.

Wade, who was in the courtroom before Friday’s arguments, denied meeting him before his appointment, as did Willis. Willis entered the courtroom after the defendants closed to hear Abbate’s arguments and left when he finished.

Abbate told the judge that Roman’s attorneys made “material misrepresentations” about what they would testify, saying that several witnesses they will present will support their claims that Willis and Wade were romantically involved before the appointment. “We have not heard from any of these individuals,” Abbate said.

He also argued that the applicable standard for issuing a DA is an actual conflict, not the appearance of one.

Harry MacDougald, attorney for co-defendant Jeffrey Clark, told the judge that Willis had six conflicts in the case between him and Wade, including “a pattern of deception and concealment of the relationship.” He also pointed to a filing in which Willis suggested that Wade was the wife of his estranged wife.he conspired With interested parties in the Criminal Election Interference Case to use the civil discovery process to harass, embarrass and pressure District Attorney Willis.

Roman alleged that Willis broke the rules to appoint Wade and benefited financially from his appointment, which has earned his office $600,000 to date.

Willis and Wade later admitted they were in the relationshipbut they argued that he was off to a good start after he was appointed special counsel in November 2021.

Roman’s plea, joined by Trump and some other defendants in the case, is said to have begun earlier. McAfee held three days of hearings on the proposal over the past two weeks.

Willis and Wade testified that they dated for a little more than a year after his appointment and that they did not profit from his work. Both said that although Wade would sometimes charge plane tickets for Willis to his credit card, he would pay her in cash or by charging other bills.

In his closing argument Friday, Merchant said Willis “benefited” from his appointment, making about $9,200 in profits, and noted there was no record of him paying Wade back.

At a hearing last month, Ashleigh Merchant, Merchant’s wife and counsel, questioned Willis’ former friend Robin Yeartie, who testified that the pair began seeing each other well before Wade was appointed special prosecutor. She later tried to corroborate her story with the testimony of Wade’s former divorce attorney, Terrence Bradley, who told her in a text message that the pair “definitely” started dating before Willis was elected DA.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Bradley testified that Wade told him at one point that he was dating Willis, but that he did not remember when the relationship began or whether it was before his appointment. When the merchant was asked why he said it was before the meeting, he said he was “speculating.”

Trump’s attorney, Steve Sadow, asked Bradley why he would speculate about such a thing in a text message to the attorney for the defendant in the case. “I don’t have an answer for that,” he replied.

“Why didn’t you say ‘I don’t know’?” Sadow continued. “I don’t know,” Bradley said. “Maybe it’s because you know what the truth is,” Sadou said.

On Friday, Sadow told the judge that Bradley’s text messages were more persuasive than his testimony and that he should cast doubt on the testimony of Willis and Wade. “There is no need to conclude that they are lying. All you have to do is make a finding that you have a genuine legitimate concern about their reliability, their veracity,” Sadou said.

There is Trump and Roman he pleaded not guilty.

Charlie Gile reported from Atlanta. Dareh Gregorian reported from New York.

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By 37ci3

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