A new twist in the saga of Donald Trump’s legal troubles in Georgia. Judge Scott McAfee declined to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis outright from the election interference case against the former president and his allies.

But in a surprise move, McAfee said Willis or prosecutor Nathan Wade must withdraw to avoid the appearance of impropriety. While dismissing the charges was “inappropriate,” the judge found the defendants made a compelling case that Wade’s financial ties to Willis’ office undermined public confidence.

Judge Rules Fani Willis Can Stay on Trump Georgia Case

Judge McAfee ruled that while Willis has no actual conflict of interest, the “appearance of impropriety” means either she or prosecutor Nathan Wade must withdraw from the case.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

McAfee said the defense failed to prove Willis deliberately delayed the case to enrich Wade. However, McAfee found Wade’s testimony “patently unpersuasive,” indicating a willingness to conceal details of their relationship.

The Relationship in Question

Willis appointed Wade as special assistant district attorney, paying him $250 an hour. The defense claimed this shows their undisclosed long-term relationship and Willis’ desire to enrich Wade.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

However, McAfee found no evidence Willis wanted to drag out the case or that payments were unreasonable based on Wade’s experience.

Impact and Options of Willis Remaining on The Case

The case can continue fairly with the “appearance of impropriety” removed and details clarified. But it hinges on Willis’ choice – withdraw or fire Wade.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Withdrawing could damage public trust in the case, especially given her defense of it. Firing Wade raises its issues but may be simplest.

Prosecutor Nathan Wade Must Step Down

According to McAfee, the undisclosed financial benefits Wade received created a conflict that could undermine public trust.

Source: Courtesy Photo

Regardless of Willis’ objectivity, the situation created an appearance of bias that must be addressed. Unless Wade steps down, the prosecution’s motives and judgment could be called into question, distracting from the facts of the case.

No To Enrichment, But Yes To Misleading Testimony

McAfee rejected the defense’s argument that Willis deliberately dragged out the case to enrich Wade, calling their theory baseless.

Source: Jason Getz

However, he agreed Wade’s misleading testimony about his relationship with Willis was concerning and could damage faith in the prosecution.

Judge Finds No Actual Conflict of Interest for Willis

The judge ruled that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis herself does not have an actual conflict of interest in the case against former President Donald Trump and his associates.

Source: San Diego State University

However, Judge Scott McAfee found the relationship between Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade “infects the current structure of the prosecution team” with “a significant appearance of impropriety.”

Wade’s Testimony ‘Patently Unpersuasive’

While McAfee ruled Willis herself has no actual conflict of interest, he judged Wade’s testimony to be “patently unpersuasive.”

Source: 11Alive

McAfee said this “indicates a willingness on Wade’s part to conceal his relationship with the District Attorney wrongly.”

The Relationship is an Appearance That Must Be Removed

Despite disagreeing with the defense’s arguments, McAfee still found the relationship between Willis and Wade creates “an appearance that must be removed.”

Source: Vecteezy

He ordered that Willis and her entire office step aside, referring the prosecution to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, or Wade must withdraw. Willis must choose whether she or Wade will continue on the case, but not both.

Trump’s Attorneys Respect The Decision But Still Question Intent

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney, said in a statement that while they respected the court’s decision, they believed McAfee did not give enough weight to the prosecutorial misconduct of Willis and Wade.

Source: Alyssa Pointer

This included the financial benefits to Wade, their untruthful testimony about when their relationship began, and Willis’ speech at an MLK Day church service where she accused the defendants and their lawyers of racism.

Extrajudicial Speech at MLK Day Event

The defense team also pointed to Willis’ speech at an MLK Day event, where she accused the defendants and their lawyers of racism.

Source: AFP

While McAfee did not find this proved an actual conflict of interest, he agreed it could contribute to the appearance of impropriety.

Continuing the Fight To End The Prosecution

Though the judge did not remove Willis from the case entirely as the defense wanted, Sadow says they will use every option available to end the prosecution.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The defense believes Willis and Wade’s actions have irreparably damaged the integrity of the case. They argue that the only appropriate solution is dismissing the charges against Trump and the other defendants.

Wade Resigns or Push To Throw Out The Case

Unless Wade resigns, the legal battle over the prosecutors’ role will continue. The defense seems determined to have the case thrown out, while Willis likely wants to move forward with the charges against Trump for interfering in Georgia’s election.

Source: X/dwickert

The judge has given the prosecution a chance to remedy the situation, but if the defense pursues further action, the case may remain in limbo.

High-Profile Case Testing Legal Boundaries

The high-profile election interference case in Georgia is becoming a major legal showdown. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has pursued charges against former President Donald Trump and his associates for allegedly interfering in the 2020 election.

Source: Wikipedia

However, the defense has argued that Willis has a conflict of interest in the case and should be removed.

Willis’s Stay Puts Pressure on Her Office

The high-stakes case is being closely watched as it could set important precedents regarding election law and the independence of prosecutors.

Source: Freepik

While Willis dodged removal, the ruling puts pressure on her office to avoid even the appearance of bias or improper influence.