Feb 15, 2024 - News

Fani Willis testifies in hearing to remove her from the 2020 election case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis takes the stand as a witness at the Fulton County Courthouse yesterday in Atlanta. Photo: Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sparred with defense attorneys on Thursday in the 2020 election interference case who say she should be disqualified because of her relationship with a special prosecutor.

Why it matters: Judge Scott McAfee could disqualify Willis, special prosecutor Nathan Wade, their respective law offices — and even dismiss the entire case, Axios' Ivana Saric, April Rubin and Jacob Knutson report.

What happened: Willis spent about two hours on the stand, answering a line of questioning focused primarily on her relationship with Wade, trips they had taken together, how those trips were paid for, and whether the details of their relationship were appropriately disclosed.

  • From the beginning, the testimony was contentious, with Willis pushing back against attorneys Ashleigh Merchant, Craig Gillen and Steve Sadow's questioning and calling the defense's interests "contrary to democracy."

What they're saying: Willis has denied claims that her relationship with Wade resulted in a financial conflict of interest.

  • "It's highly offensive when someone lies on you, and it's highly offensive when they try to implicate that you slept with somebody the first day you met with them," Willis said while testifying. "And I take exception to it."
  • Willis referred to former President Trump's alleged electoral interference as the trial's focus. "I'm not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial," she said.

State of play: When asked when her romantic relationship with Wade ended, Willis said he would probably consider the end of the relationship to be June or July, but she considers it to be August when they had a serious conversation.

  • Wade started as a mentor and professional colleague to Willis, she said. They later became friends.

Threat level: If Willis and Wade are dismissed, but the charges against Trump and others remain, the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia would be responsible for finding a substitute attorney to take up the case.

  • Yes, but: That may be difficult since only a few district attorneys in the state have the resources to take on such a sprawling, high-profile case, according to AP.

What's next: Testimony in the hearing will resume Friday at 9am. Judge McAfee also said he doesn't expect to make a ruling today. You can watch the proceedings on YouTube.

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