Trump, co-defendants request to appeal Georgia judge’s ruling keeping Fani Willis on case

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Former President Trump and several of his co-defendants are asking Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee for permission to appeal after he ruled against dismissing the case and disqualifying District Attorney Fani Willis. 

McAfee last week denied a full dismissal of the case against Trump and Willis’ disqualification. Instead, he demanded that Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade resign from the case. McAfee warned that without Wade’s withdrawal, Willis would be disqualified from prosecuting Trump. Wade withdrew within hours of the judge’s order.

Four co-defendants had accused Willis of having an “improper” affair with Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the case. Willis and Wade have denied the claims. 


Fani Willis and Donald Trump

Fani Willis and Donald Trump (Getty Images)

The motion Monday was filed on behalf of Trump and several co-defendants, including Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Robert Cheeley, Michael Roman, David Shafer, Harrison Floyd and Cathleen Latham. 

Trump and his co-defendants are requesting permission to appeal McAfee’s ruling. 

“In its Order, the Court found that District Attorney Willis’ actions had created an appearance of impropriety and an ‘odor of mendacity’ that lingers in this case, as well as the continuing possibility that ‘an outsider could reasonably think that District Attorney Willis is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences,’” the motion states. “Despite this, the Court declined to disqualify District Attorney Willis, finding that eliminating only the Special Assistant District Attorney would cure the lingering appearance of impropriety.” 

The motion adds that defendants “believe that the relevant case law requires dismissal of the case, or at the very least, the disqualification of the District Attorney and her entire office under the facts that exist here, and the resignation of Mr. Wade is insufficient to cure the appearance of impropriety the Court has determined exists.” 

“Given these facts and the current state of case law, the Court of Appeals should speak definitively to this outcome-determinative issue now.” 

Trump attorney Steve Sadow added in a statement, “The motion further notes that the Court found Georgia case law lacks controlling precedent for the standard for disqualification of a prosecuting attorney for forensic misconduct. For these reasons among others, the Court’s Order is ripe for pretrial appellate review.”

photo of Fulton County DA case election interference

Judge Scott McAfee, left, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, center, and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, right. (Getty Images)


The filing comes after McAfee last week quashed six counts in the Georgia election interference case against Trump and his 18 co-defendants. 

McAfee said in an order Wednesday that the state failed to allege sufficient detail for six counts of “solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.” 

“The Court’s concern is less that the State has failed to allege sufficient conduct of the Defendants – in fact it has alleged an abundance. However, the lack of detail concerning an essential legal element is, in the undersigned opinion, fatal,” McAfee wrote.

Rudy Giuliani appears at court in Washington D.C., for a defamation case

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for former U.S. President Donald Trump, departs the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Courthouse on December 11, 2023, in Washington, DC.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“As written, these six counts contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission, i.e., the underlying felony solicited,” the judge continued. 

“They do not give the Defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently, as the Defendants could have violated the Constitutions and thus the statute in dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct ways.”  

Georgia state law prohibits any public officer from willfully and intentionally violating the terms of his or her oath as prescribed by law. Willis alleged that Trump and six of his co-defendants illegally attempted to persuade numerous state officials to violate their oaths in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Mark Meadows points

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Oct. 21, 2020, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Willis charged Trump with one count of violation of the Georgia RICO Act, three counts of criminal solicitation, six counts of criminal conspiracy, one count of filing false documents and two counts of making false statements.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

Meanwhile, the defendants alleged that Willis benefited financially by hiring Wade in 2021 because they were in a pre-existing romantic relationship and went on several trips together. Michael Roman, a Republican operative who worked on Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, claimed Wade’s law firm billed taxpayers $650,000 at a rate of $250 an hour since his hiring — and that he used that income to pay for vacations with Willis.


Both Wade and Willis had denied they were in a romantic relationship prior to his hiring. During a two-day evidentiary hearing in February, they each testified that they split the cost of their shared trips. Willis told the court she reimbursed Wade for her share of the trips in cash.

A trial date for Trump has not yet been set. 

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