Trump, co-defendants seek review of judge’s decision on Fani Willis

ATLANTA — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump and seven of his co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case are seeking a review of a Georgia judge’s decision not to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

The request was filed Monday after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Friday morning that Willis would be allowed to stay on the racketeering case she brought against Trump if Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she appointed to the case, resigned. Wade resigned that afternoon.

Attorneys for Trump and the co-defendants had accused both Willis and Wade of misconduct and alleged Willis was financially benefiting from a romantic relationship she’d had with Wade after the two took vacations together while working on the case. McAfee found no conflict of interest but said either Willis and her office or Wade had to step aside because of the “appearance of impropriety.”

In Monday’s filing, Trump and his co-defendants argued that Wade’s resignation “is insufficient to cure the appearance of impropriety the Court has determined exists” and said the matter needs to be decided by the state Court of Appeals.

Trump attorney Steve Sadow said in a statement Monday that McAfee’s ruling is “ripe for pretrial appellate review,” noting that McAfee “found that Willis’ actions created an appearance of impropriety and an ‘odor of mendacity’ that lingers in this case” but had “nonetheless refused to dismiss the case or disqualify her.”

The defendants do not have the ability to directly appeal McAfee’s decision at this stage, so they have asked him to approve a “certificate of immediate review” that would put the matter before an appeals court.

If the appeals court reviews the matter, it could lead to a pause of the overall proceedings in the election interference case.

McAfee has yet to set a trial date. Willis’ office had asked to start the case in early August.

Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which allege that they conspired to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Blayne Alexander and Charlie Gile reported from Atlanta and Dareh Gregorian from New York.

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