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Fighting Fani’s Folly: Pre-Trial Arguments in Trump Prosecution

They were back at it in the Georgia Trump criminal case on Thursday.

Court was back in session in Georgia for the Fani Willis criminal prosecution of Donald Trump on felony charges Thursday, March 28. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott F. McAfee heard from the parties on defense motions by Trump and a co-defendant to dismiss the indictment on First Amendment grounds. This hearing was focused on legal arguments and the proper procedures for ruling on the motions, rather than the emotionally charged removal hearings we saw at the start of the month.

No Fani, No Drama

Neither Ashley Merchant, Nathan Wade (the erstwhile lead prosecutor and romantic partner of Willis), nor Fani Willis appeared in court on Thursday. Merchant became a star advocate after revealing Willis and Wade’s secret sexual relationship and is a lawyer for co-defendant Michael Roman, who is not part of these motions. Instead, it was Trump lead counsel Steven H. Sadow who argued the charges must be tossed. Regarding the RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations) charges, Sadow said:

“When you look at the allegations against President Trump, all of the allegations – all of the allegations, involved expressive conduct or speech.”

And

“The majority of the overt acts involve false statements, are Tweets which are clearly political speech.”

Ms. Willis recently broke her silence after accepting Nathan Wade’s resignation. She gave an exclusive interview to CNN at a church-sponsored Easter Basket giveaway with some guidance for those of us covering the case:

“I think what the media should focus on this case and everything are the charges, the facts, and the law, and leave all the drama behind. I’m 52 years old; it really ain’t that interesting if I’m in a relationship or not; it just ain’t. It’s not cool to anybody, and it ain’t that sensational of a story, so let’s focus on the case and the law and the facts.”

Willis and Wade were lovers, something they took great care to hide and almost certainly lied about in court. She appointed him lead prosecutor in the sprawling Georgia election interference case against the former president and 18 co-defendants. Taxpayers compensated Mr. Wade with at least $650,000 for his prosecution efforts against Trump and others. Before his recent appointment, Mr. Wade had little prosecutorial experience – none whatsoever prosecuting a RICO case, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

No Regrets for Fani

Ms. Willis said her team never stopped working on the prosecution while the disqualification hearing was undertaken. Asked if she was trying to reclaim her reputation, she wasn’t embarrassed by her actions or behavior and “I guess my greatest crime is I had a relationship with a man, but that’s not something that I find embarrassing in any way, and I know that I have not done anything that’s illegal.”

For his part, Judge McAfee gave no hints as to how he would rule on the motions at the bar, nor did he promise when he would issue it. On March 15, McAfee ordered that either Willis (along with her office) or Wade must leave the case because their relationship brought about a “significant appearance of impropriety.” Following that, Judge McAfee certified a special pre-trial appeal status for Trump and his co-defendants to appeal his decision on the disqualification to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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