February 24, 2024

ATLANTA — Five months after she charged former President Donald Trump in a blockbuster election interference case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is at what could be the most perilous moment of her career.

She is besieged by political enemies — from Trump to members of Congress and the Georgia Legislature — who are using accusations of an improper workplace relationship to try to discredit a criminal case that many Georgians had already believed was politically motivated. Even some Democrats think the allegations are damaging and that Willis, special prosecutor Nathan Wade or both should consider resigning from the case to protect the integrity of the prosecution.

“Fulton County is prosecuting a former president of the United States,” said Rick Dent, a Democratic strategist. “Everything has to be above board, transparent and credible so that the American public will buy into what goes on in that courtroom.”

Next week could prove pivotal.

Willis’ office must file a response in Fulton County Superior Court by Feb. 2 to claims the DA benefited financially from a romantic relationship with Wade, whom she hired to lead the Trump investigation. And a hearing is scheduled Wednesday in the ongoing divorce proceedings of Wade and his estranged wife, Joycelyn, which could provide additional ammunition to critics. Records from the divorce have fueled the scandal.

Upping the pressure

Another blow to the DA came Friday, when the Republican-controlled Georgia Senate approved a resolution that creates a panel to investigate Willis. Though it would have no power to sanction her, the committee can subpoena witnesses and evidence, potentially dredging up embarrassing information. It will also have the rare authority to require that testimony be given under oath.

“As details continue to surface on a daily basis, it becomes more and more clear this was prosecution for personal profit,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, during Friday’s debate. Beach raised questions about the integrity of Georgia’s 2020 vote in the aftermath of the election and delivered testimony to a special grand jury that Wade helped advise in 2022.

Democrats said lawmakers should let the judicial system resolve the allegations. State Sen. David Lucas, a Macon Democrat, blasted Republicans for indulging in what he called “bedroom politics.”

“Where was the special committee when the ex-president (Trump) called the secretary of state and said, ‘find me 11,000 votes?’” Lucas said. “You didn’t have a committee to investigate that.”

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