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What's next in the Fani Willis case

Shannon McCaffrey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA — Six attorneys — five for the defense and one for the prosecution — summed up their arguments on Friday about whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her office should be — or should not be — disqualified from prosecuting Donald Trump and his 14 remaining codefendants.

The defense said that Willis benefited financially from an improper romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, creating a conflict of interest that has tainted the sweeping racketeering case.

The DA’s office contends they did nothing wrong. They maintain that Willis and Wade roughly split the costs for their travel together and testified that their relationship began after Willis hired Wade to lead the Trump case.

Here’s what to look for moving forward:

Decision date: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Friday he is likely to rule within two weeks, which means a decision would come by March 15.

The timing has political significance. Noon Friday — March 8 — is the deadline for candidates to file paperwork to seek elected office in Georgia. Both Willis and McAfee are expected to qualify to run. When McAfee’s ruling ultimately comes down will determine whether any would-be opponents know the outcome before they decide to jump in to challenge him or Willis.

 

McAfee said Friday he’ll “be taking the time to make sure that I give this case the full consideration it’s due.”

More evidence: Both the defense and the prosecution asked McAfee to admit additional evidence they believe bolsters their case.

The defense has pushed to enter Wade’s cell phone records, which show he — or at least his phone — was in the vicinity of Willis’ Hapeville condo in 2021, before they say their romantic relationship began.

The prosecution is seeking to include an affidavit from an expert who says those cell phone records are unreliable. They also want to admit a sworn statement from a Napa Valley winery employee who says Willis paid him in cash during a trip there. That could give credibility to Willis’ claim that she often paid for her share of her trips with Wade in cash. On Friday, McAfee said he might not need the additional records.

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