OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A judge in Georgia had previously disqualified Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from a case related to the 2020 election due to political bias.
The development coincides with mounting scrutiny of Willis following revelations in a court filing earlier this month that she is romantically involved with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor she enlisted to assist with her RICO case against former President Donald Trump.
As per NBC News, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney prohibited Willis from prosecuting a case against Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones, who was a candidate for lieutenant governor at the time. The decision followed Willis’ arrangement of a fundraiser for Democratic candidate Charlie Bailey during his runoff race.
In his ruling, McBurney stated that Willis’ involvement in the fundraiser was considered “detrimental” to the investigation into Jones, who was purportedly associated with other state Republicans in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results by utilizing an alternate slate of electors.
McBurney, however, said Willis’ involvement would prompt “entirely reasonable concerns of politically motivated persecution,” according to the outlet.
“Any decision the district attorney makes about Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation is necessarily infected by it,” McBurney ruled, the outlet noted further.
McBurney said that the DA’s donation to a Democrat campaign was not in and of itself disqualifying but noted the donation “added to the weight of the conflict created by the more extensive, direct, public and job-related campaign work the district attorney performed on behalf of candidate Bailey.”
“This choice — which the district attorney was within her rights as an elected official to make — has consequences,” McBurney ruled, according to NBC News. “She had bestowed her office’s imprimatur upon Senator Jones’s opponent.”
Meanwhile, there is a growing movement to replace Willis in response to allegations that she had a romantic relationship with Wade, NewsNation reported.
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The outlet noted further:
Friends and supporters of Willis claim that her alleged romantic affair with Nathan Wade has likely harmed the case, causing it to become a distraction.
Even if the allegations are true, no Georgia law requires Wade or Willis to remove themselves from the case.
However, Norm Eisen, who was former President Obama’s “ethics czar” and the House of Representatives special counsel during Trump’s impeachment, told The Hill he supports Willis but suggests Wade needs to step aside.
“My view is that the law does not require Mr. Wade to step down, but I think it would be the wise thing for him to voluntarily consider doing so,” he said.
Mercedes Colwin, a legal analyst and attorney, told the outlet that the allegations against Willis taint her case.
“When you have a prosecutor in the center in the crosshairs of this type of criminal process, who is now being called to question about her impartiality, her fairness, and the constitutional rights of the accused or not being called into question, that is very problematic for Ms. Willis,” she said.
“She has a great reputation, she’s very well regarded in the legal community in Georgia to have this type of blemish on a record is problematic. If it is compromising the prosecution of individuals that are accused of criminal conduct, then of course, you really should step away voluntarily,” Colwin said.
Over the weekend, the judge on the case she brought against former President Donald Trump on election fraud charges ordered an investigation into her alleged misconduct, that she and her lead prosecutor engaged in an improper relationship and mishandled taxpayer dollars, The Washington Post reported.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said that Willis has until Feb. 2. To respond to the accusations.
This could force the district attorney to have to address the issue in televised court proceedings which could derail her case against Trump and his codefendants and could do significant damage to her political career.