Who Thinks Fani Willis Is Impartial?

At a hearing today the district attorney of Fulton County screamed at a lawyer for one of the defendants to such a degree that the judge threatened to throw out her testimony in its entirety.

Dennis Byron-pool/Getty Images
The Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, on November 21, 2023 at Atlanta. Dennis Byron-pool/Getty Images

On the central question hanging over the criminal case against President Trump et al in Georgia,  the district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis failed, in the Sun’s view, spectacularly at a hearing today to demonstrate that she is an impartial prosecutor. At one point she erupted in screams and insults against the attorney for one of the defendants to such an extent that the judge called a recess and threatened to throw out her testimony entirely. 

Who after today is willing to call Ms. Willis impartial? This is a prosecutor who is seething with entitlement and full of bias toward those against whom she has turned the power of the state. She accuses the attorneys of the defendants seeking to disqualify her of bartering in “lies” and calls the accusations “extremely offensive.” She insists that “I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.” The question though, is whether she is fit to try others.   

Ms. Willis was grilled about trips she took with her former boyfriend and special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, to far-flung locales, and the timeline of when his mentorship morphed into friendship and then bloomed into something more. Ms. Willis was full of denials, at one point declaring that “never in the history of ever” had Mr. Wade ever utilized the district attorney’s security detail. She bluntly declared the challengers were interested in “sex.” 

Our position since this issue arose is that the law, at least in this respect, cares not only for the substance but the surface. What matters is not only the absolute truth of when Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade came to know each other more deeply, but what their intimacy could mean for the 19 people charged with racketeering and other felonies. For them, the $700,000 that Mr. Wade has been paid leaves in tatters the appearance of impartiality that the law requires. 

Fulton County demands that legal officers are “in fact and in appearance, independent and impartial in the performance of their official duties.” A conflict of interest exists when a “reasonable person would conclude from the surrounding circumstances that the ability of the officer or employee to protect the public interest or impartially perform a public duty is compromised by financial or personal interests in the matter or transaction.”

That bar has been cleared. It is uncontested that Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis traveled together after his appointment, and that Mr. Wade paid for those trips as funds were flowing into his account from Fulton County. Ms. Willis asserts that she paid him back, but there is no record of those transactions. Georgia — and the Constitution — demand due process, and the impartiality that preserves it. There is now too much smoke to keep that promise.

This extraordinary colloquy discloses that  it is not only Ms. Willis’ impartiality that appeared suspect, but also her honesty. A college friend testified that the district attorney’s relationship with Mr. Wade predated his hiring. If that is true, both he and Ms. Willis will have perjured themselves. Ms. Willis called the interests of her foes “contrary to democracy.” Few things, though, are more damaging to democracy than a lady of justice who tosses her blindfolds to the wind. 

The New York Sun

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