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Trump’s Legal Team Counters Fani Willis' Attempt to Toss Disqualification Challenge

 June 21, 2024

Donald Trump’s attorneys have filed an appeal in an effort to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the election interference case brought against the former president.

The appellate court previously halted the case, and now a decision on Willis's disqualification may potentially be delayed until March 2025, as the Washington Examiner reports.

On Thursday, Trump’s legal team submitted court documents describing Willis’s effort to dismiss their disqualification request as a desperate and last-minute attempt, characterizing it as a “Hail Mary.”

This filing was a direct response to Willis’s plea to the Georgia Court of Appeals last week, in which she asked judges to reject Trump’s disqualification bid. Trump, along with eight co-defendants, had previously requested the appellate court to overturn a lower court’s decision that allowed Willis to remain on the case.

Willis's Previous Relationship Questioned

Judge Scott McAfee had earlier found that Willis exhibited a “tremendous lapse in judgment” due to a past romantic relationship she had with a prosecutor involved in the case.

Willis argued that Georgia's higher courts typically do not intervene in ongoing lower court proceedings unless the judge's findings are "flatly incorrect."

Prosecutors asserted that the thorough evaluation by the trial court and its dismissal of the central evidence prevented any possibility of overturning the decision.

Accusations Of A Desperate Bid

Trump’s defense team portrayed Willis’s appeal to the appellate court as an attempt to evade disqualification. They referred to her actions as a “desperate bid to avoid disqualification.”

Earlier this month, the appellate court decided to temporarily halt the election interference case while Trump's appeal was under consideration.

The court has tentatively scheduled oral arguments for October but may delay a final ruling until March 2025. This postponement poses a challenge for prosecutors who sought to have a trial before the upcoming presidential election.

Disputing Legal Arguments

In their court documents, Trump’s attorneys refuted the state's arguments and insisted that the trial court's findings were not beyond scrutiny.

Trump's attorneys wrote, “The State argues that the trial court’s factual findings were not clearly erroneous. According to the State, then, this Court is powerless to overturn the trial court’s order denying the dismissal of the case and the disqualification of District Attorney Willis and her office."

They continued, "Of course, as this Court well knows, that has never been, and is not now, the law.”

Expected Court Rulings

Trump’s attorney, Steve Sadow, characterized Willis's motion to dismiss Trump’s appeal as “meritless.” He remained hopeful that the appellate court would rule in their favor.

“The Georgia Court of Appeals granted us the right to appeal after due and proper consideration,” Sadow stated.

He further commented, “The State’s ‘Hail Mary’ motion is an obvious attempt to stop appellate review of DA Willis’ misconduct. We are optimistic that the Court will deny the motion and proceed to favorably decide the appeal on the merits.”

Potential Setbacks For Prosecutors

The delay in the ruling represents a significant obstacle for prosecutors who were aiming to complete a trial before the presidential election.

Willis indicated that such appeals are rare and should only be considered when a judge makes clearly erroneous findings, which she argues is not the case here.

Overall, as the case remains halted, both the prosecution and the defense await the court's next move, which could shape the timeline of the trial and its potential impact on the political landscape.