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Fani Willis talks race in new speech despite reprimands from Judge McAfee

Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis spoke about race in a speech Friday, apparently in response to part of Judge Scott McAfee’s recent order that she can stay in Donald Trump’s election interference case in Georgia.

Last year, Willis accused the former president and 18 others of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, which Trump claimed were stolen from him despite a lack of evidence. His investigation focused on Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he allegedly asked him to find enough votes to tip the election in his favor against Joe Biden, and on the alleged plot to submit a false list of pro-Trump voters. in the Electoral College. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges, asserting his innocence.

However, the case was halted after lawyers representing one of Trump’s co-defendants raised concerns about the relationship between Willis and the lead prosecutor on the case, Nathan Wade. Willis then found herself at the center of a potential ethics violation related to the alleged affair.

Willis previously rejected the accusations and said during a January speech at an Atlanta church that his critics were “playing the race card” given that they chose Wade, who is black.

As part of his March 15 ruling, McAfee focused on Willis’ speech in January and noted that “the district attorney described the efforts (to disqualify her) as motivated by ‘playing the race card.”

On Friday, Willis appeared at the South Fulton Women of the Shield Awards where she said during a speech, “It’s hard here always having to prove yourself two or three times. Recently they told me they don’t like me to talk about race. Well, I’m going to talk about it anyway. The truth is, being black comes with some challenges. And I see so much greatness in this city with so many great leaders African Americans. And I appreciate the sacrifice you all had to make to hold these positions.

McAfee ruled that Willis could remain on the case against Trump if she removed Wade, who ultimately resigned from his position.

In her order, McAfee took issue with Willis’ comments that she and Wade were scrutinized because of their race. Willis later said she was referring to the defendants, but McAfee said it was unclear to make a distinction because of Willis’ reference to “so many others” and “them” in her speech of January.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks on stage at the Apollo Theater on December 5, 2023, in New York. Willis spoke about race in a speech Friday, apparently in response to part of…

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“In these public and televised comments, the district attorney complained that a Fulton County commissioner “and so many others” questioned his decision to hire SADA Wade. When referring to her critics throughout the speech, she frequently used the plural “they.” “The State argues that the speech was not directed at any of the defendants in this case. Maybe. But maybe not. Therein lies the danger of a public comment by a prosecutor,” he said. writes McAfee in his decision.

News week contacted Willis and McAfee’s offices Saturday afternoon by email. This story will be updated with any statements provided.

John Clifford Floyd III, Willis’ father, said in February that Willis was forced to leave her South Fulton home after she was harassed and threatened with death.

“The South Fulton police brought in a man with a dog because there were so many death threats,” he said. “They said they were going to blow up the house, they said they were going to kill her, kill me, kill her grandchildren.”

Once Willis moved, she kept the location of her new home a secret from her father because of the threats, he testified.

On Friday, Willis also thanked police officers for keeping him and his family safe.

“I put extra pressure on this police department because you had to take extra measures to ensure our safety,” she said. “For the last three years now, I have loved this police department like no other. I have placed a lot of burden on this police department and on some of the women who are here today. You have all done your best to make sure my girls and I were safe and that was much appreciated.”

In a new court filing filed Friday, Trump’s lawyers appealed McAfee’s decision to keep Willis in the case, arguing that “the trial court erred in law by not requiring the dismissal nor the disqualification of DA Willis.”

For an appeal to move forward, the Georgia Court of Appeals will have to agree to take up the case. Willis’ office also has 10 days to respond to the request, which it can object to.

No trial date has been set in the Georgia criminal case, one of four cases the former president faces as he heads toward a likely November rematch with Biden in the upcoming presidential election. This year.