Judge in Georgia slams Fani Willis' 'improper' church speech, 'playing the race card'


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The judge in former President Trump’s Georgia election interference case has allowed District Attorney Fani Willis to continue leading the prosecution, but he said her racially charged rhetoric about “playing the race card” was “legally improper.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee issued a ruling that quashed a motion from one of the case’s 19 defendants seeking to remove Wilis from the case due to her alleged improper affair with special counsel Nathan Wade.

McAfee ruled that an insufficient amount of evidence was provided to justify the removal of Willis outright, but he ordered Wade must be fired for the district attorney to continue without the “appearance of impropriety” — otherwise Willis must step down.

JUDGE RULES FANI WILLIS MUST STEP ASIDE FROM TRUMP CASE OR FIRE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR NATHAN WADE

Fani Willis

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a worship service at the Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta. (Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

In his order, McAfee separately took issue with a speech made by Willis at an Atlanta church in January of this year, when she claimed she and Wade were being scrutinized because of their race. 

While Willis later claimed not to be referring to the defendants in her accusations of racism, McAfee warned that such a distinction was not clear.

“In these public and televised comments, the District Attorney complained that a Fulton County Commissioner ‘and so many others’ questioned her decision to hire SADA Wade. When referring to her detractors throughout the speech, she frequently utilized the plural ‘they.’ The State argues the speech was not aimed at any of the Defendants in this case. Maybe so. But maybe not. Therein lies the danger of public comment by a prosecuting attorney,” McAfee wrote.

KEY WITNESS IN FANI WILLIS CASE TESTIFIES HE MAY HAVE LIED IN TEXTS ABOUT FRIENDS’ AFFAIR

Judge Scott McAfee

Scott McAfee, Fulton County superior court judge, at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images )

The judge found that Willis’s reference to “so many others” in her speech at the church left ambiguous who she was accusing of racial motivations — coming dangerously close to compromising the case.

He went on to complain about the district attorney’s own continued references to the race of individuals involved in the case.

“More at issue, instead of attributing the criticism to a criminal accused’s general aversion to being convicted and facing a prison sentence, the District Attorney ascribed the effort as motivated by ‘playing the race card,'” McAfee wrote. “She went on to frequently refer to SADA Wade as the ‘black man’ while her other unchallenged SADAs were labeled ‘one white woman’ and ‘one white man.’ The effect of this speech was to cast racial aspersions at an indicted Defendant’s decision to file this pretrial motion.”

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Fani Willis, Nathan Wade

Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, previously said the allegations brought against her of having an “improper” romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade were made because she is Black. (Getty Images)

Despite finding Willis’s speech “legally improper,” McAfee ruled that the questionable statements regarding race did not deny the defendants “opportunity for a fundamentally fair trial.”

“The Court cannot find that this speech crossed the line to the point where the Defendants have been denied the opportunity for a fundamentally fair trial, or that it requires the District Attorney’s disqualification,” McAfee wrote. “But it was still legally improper. Providing this type of public comment creates dangerous waters for the District Attorney to wade further into.”

It has not yet been announced whether Willis will fire Wade or step down from the trial.



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