Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has been navigating a series of controversies, apparently has a spotty history with high-profile legal cases. Her involvement in a case concerning the 2020 election results in Georgia was previously cut short due to her removal by the judge. At the time, Willis faced criticism for hosting a fundraiser for Democratic candidate Charlie Bailey.
This was then deemed problematic by Judge Robert C.I. McBurney, as it cast doubt on the integrity of her investigation into Georgia State Senator Burt Jones, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and one of the so-called “fake electors” linked to the 2020 election controversy.
The judge’s decision didn’t come lightly. He acknowledged that Willis’ participation in the fundraiser was “harmful” to the investigation’s credibility as reported by NBC News in July of 2022. McBurney said that any decision Willis made regarding Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation was “necessarily infected” by her political activities. This involvement, he argued, could lead to “entirely reasonable concerns of politically motivated persecution.”
These issues compound the scrutiny Willis is already under for allegedly misusing county funds to appoint her purported lover, Nathan Wade, as outside counsel in the case against former President Donald Trump. This appointment has raised questions about her continued involvement and the potential need for her recusal, further muddying her professional standing.
The case in question also revolved around the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Willis was investigating efforts by some state Republicans to create an alternate slate of presidential electors. Despite the setback, Willis was permitted to continue her involvement in the investigation of other “fake electors.”
However, any charges against Jones were to be brought by another prosecutor, as McBurney ruled that Willis could not subpoena Jones, publicly categorize him as a target, or ask the grand jury to include recommendations about him in its final report.
Over the past year, Willis has been at the forefront of an investigation into Trump and his associates, focusing on their actions and communications concerning the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. As of Wednesday, the Georgia Senate is poised to launch a sweeping investigation into allegations that Willis benefited from an affair with a subordinate, irreparably tainting her office’s case against Trump.
According to Breitbart, the Republican-controlled body is set to appoint a nine-member special committee with subpoena powers to explore whether Willis carried on an affair with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor hired by her office and paid $700,000 to assist in the Trump investigation. The move comes after Republican Governor Brian Kemp refused to entertain a criminal complaint against Willis filed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), saying a state ethics board is the only proper venue for such matters.
However, the ethics board has been non-operational for some time, a reason cited by State Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Forsyth) in a resolution calling for subpoenas to “secure the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents and materials.”
“[T]he Georgia Senate has the inherent power and authority to conduct investigations into … the expenditure of public funds [and] the conduct of public officers who discharge powers and duties under state law,” the resolution continues.
If organized, the new committee would be comprised of six Republicans and three Democrats. Filed by Dolezal earlier this week, the resolution is fast-tracked for Senate approval at which point the Committee on Assignments will appoint senators to the new committee.
In August of last year, DA Willis charged President Trump and 18 co-defendants with racketeering charges relating to efforts she claims they undertook to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. Michael Roman, one of the co-defendants and a former Trump campaign staffer, has alleged that Willis and Wade are romantically linked and has requested a judge unseal Wade’s ongoing divorce case for evidence. A judge has ordered Willis to respond to the allegations by February 2nd.