Updated May 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Georgia appeals court will review decision that kept Fani Willis on Trump case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with attorney Todd Blanche at the end of the day during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 7, 2024 in New York City.

Former President Trump speaks to the media at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 7 in New York City. Photo: Sarah Yenesel-Pool/Getty Images

A Georgia appeals court agreed Wednesday to review a lower court ruling in former President Trump's 2020 state-level election case allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue overseeing it.

Why it matters: It's a win for Trump's legal team, which appealed the ruling and has successfully used delay tactics in the four criminal cases against him while he campaigns for a second term.

  • The appeals court's order said that Trump can file a notice of appeal within 10 days.

The big picture: Trump and multiple co-defendants have argued that Willis' relationship with then-special prosecutor Nathan Wade caused a conflict of interest. Willis has blasted the accusations as politically motivated.

  • After a months-long saga, Judge Scott McAfee ruled in March that Willis could continue on the case if Wade stepped down, which Wade did on the same day.
  • McAfee wrote in his order that his decision should not indicate that the court approves of Willis' "tremendous lapse in judgment"
  • Willis acknowledged her relationship with Wade, but she denied that it tainted proceedings or created any financial or ethical conflicts of interests — and in his ruling, McAfee agreed.

What they're saying: "President Trump looks forward to presenting interlocutory arguments to the Georgia Court of Appeals as to why the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unjustified, unwarranted political persecution," Steve Sadow, the lead attorney for Trump in the case, said in a statement.

  • A spokesperson for the district attorney did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Catch up quick: After his ruling, McAfee granted a "certificate of immediate review," which enabled Trump's lawyers to appeal the decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals before the start of a trial.

  • Seven of Trump's co-defendants also requested the certificate.

State of play: Trump faces more than half a dozen counts related to alleged efforts to flip Georgia's 2020 election results.

  • McAfee dismissed three counts against Trump in March. He said they "contain all of the elements of the crimes" but lacked detail about why they were committed — and left the door open for prosecutors to refile.

Go deeper: Subpoenas, sanctions and shaming: Fani Willis' ordeal is far from over

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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