FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Former President Donald Trump has responded to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' claim that her "racially charged" speech at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta on Feb. 14 was not aimed at the election interference case against the former president and the other defendants.
The reply, filed on Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court by Trump's attorneys Steve Sadow and Jennifer Little, aligns with co-defendant Michael Roman's efforts to dismiss Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade. Roman's motion alleges an "improper, clandestine relationship" and "profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of taxpayers."
Trump initially joined Roman's fight to dismiss Willis and Wade with his own motion on Jan. 25. His motion specifically addressed Willis's actions during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, accusing her of injecting race into the case and fostering racial animus during a speech at historic Bethel AME Church. The motion claimed that Willis's statements would result in substantial prejudice towards the defendants, portraying her pursuit of racially-based sympathy as a "self-inflicted quagmire."
Willis' response called an ‘outright lie’
The reply filed Feb. 7 by Trump asserts that Willis' response to Roman's motion is "preposterous and disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst. It is an after-the-fact futile attempt to mislead this Court."
Willis was ordered to respond to Roman's motion by Feb. 2 by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee. A hearing to consider Roman's motion is scheduled for Feb. 15.
"President Trump’s filing focuses on the DA’s disingenuous, untrue claim that her racially charged MLK holiday weekend "church speech" was somehow not aimed at this case, the defendants, or defense counsel," according to a statement from Sadow.
Sadow's statement goes on to say, "Her claim utterly lacks plausibility. We emphasize that "[f[rom the day of the speech forward, not a single reporter, journalist, or media outlet has expressed the slightest bit of doubt that the DA’s racially invective comments were in direct response to [co-defendant] Roman’s allegations [improper personnel and financial relationship between the DA and SADA Wade] in his court filing and were directed at the defendants and defense counsel." Our filing argues persuasively that, contrary to the DA’s response, Georgia law authorizes and compels the disqualification of the DA for her extrajudicial prosecutorial comments in violation of her special ethical responsibilities as a prosecutor. Once again, President Trump respectfully asserts that the DA’s egregious misconduct requires the dismissal of the indictment and her disqualification."
The reply highlights Willis' belief that ethical rules and laws do not apply to her, accusing her of making prejudicial out-of-court racially partisan statements about the case, defense counsel, and defendants whenever she pleases. The motion concludes by asserting that Willis' speech at the historical Black church created the "quintessential appearance of impropriety regarding her prosecutorial judgment and conduct," calling for her disqualification and the dismissal of the indictment against Trump.
Willis says Roman's attempt is ‘salacious’
Willis, in her 176-page response filed on Feb. 2, dismissed Roman's attempt to disqualify her and Wade as "salacious" without proving any grounds for removal. Special Prosecutor Wade confirmed in an affidavit that he developed a "personal relationship" with Willis in 2022, maintaining it was professional before his hiring in 2021. The response details their non-cohabitation, separate household expenses, and individual financial accounts.
Multiple investigations underway
The controversy surrounding Willis and Wade has triggered investigations and accusations from various sources, including Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and the Georgia Senate.
Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis sent a letter to Willis on Jan. 18, demanding documents to determine whether county funds paid to Wade "were converted to your personal gain in the form of subsidized travel or other gifts."
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary announced an investigation into Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade on Jan. 12.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a complaint with Georgia's ethics commission against Wade over his purported failure to register and file lobbyist paperwork disclosing "his solicitation" of Fulton County DA Willis and "excessive gifts" to the prosecutor on Jan. 25.
The Georgia Senate approved a special committee to investigate Willis on Jan. 26.
Additionally, co-defendant David Shafer, who served as the Georgia GOP chairman and GOP presidential elector in 2020, filed a motion on Feb. 5, stating that Willis has engaged in a "pattern of prosecutorial, forensic misconduct." He argues that this should disqualify not only her but her entire office and prosecution staff.