The former president’s team accused the district attorney of making a ‘futile attempt to mislead this court.’
Former President Donald Trump renewed a request to the Fulton County judge overseeing the Georgia election case to dismiss his indictment and disqualify the district attorney.
On Wednesday, his attorneys responded in court to recent claims made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in which she said that her speech at an Atlanta church last month was not directed at the former president or the co-defendants in the case. His attorneys have contended that her comments were racially motivated and were designed to incur prejudice against the defendants.
The reply, filed in Fulton County Superior Court by Trump attorneys Steve Sadow and Jennifer Little, again aligns with co-defendant Michael Roman’s bid to dismiss Ms. Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Ms. Willis made her comments at the church days after Mr. Roman filed a court motion that alleged she and Mr. Wade engaged in a “clandestine” and “improper” relationship that “profit[ed] significantly from this prosecution at the expense of taxpayers.”
Last week, Ms. Willis made a court filing in which Mr. Wade admitted to the pair having a “personal relationship,” although she denied claims she benefitted financially from the relationship or violated any rules with her comments at the church. Her office added she “has no financial conflict of interest that constitutes a legal basis for disqualification,” and she had “no personal conflict of interest that justifies her disqualification personally or that of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.”
In reference to the church remarks, her office submitted that “defendant Trump’s motion raising public comments made by District Attorney Willis that neither reference this case nor these defendants as a basis for disqualification is transparently meritless.”
But on Wednesday, the Trump team offered pushback at her claim that she wasn’t making reference to the case when she spoke at the church event.
“Stated succinctly, the DA’s position in its filed response is preposterous and disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst. It is an after-the-fact futile attempt to mislead this court,” they wrote. “From the day of the speech forward, not a single reporter, journalist, or media outlet has expressed the slightest bit of doubt that the DA’s racially invective comments were in direct response to Roman’s allegations in his court filing and were directed at the defendants and defense counsel,” the attorneys added.
When addressing Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ms. Willis defended Mr. Wade’s qualifications. “I appointed three special counselors. It’s my right to do. Paid them all the same hourly rate.” She added, “I hired one black man.”
“They only attack one,” the DA added. “Isn’t it them playing the race card when they only question one?”
That speech, President Trump’s lawyers wrote, was done in “bad faith” to inject “race, religion, and politics” and also “stoked racial animus by, among other statements, asking God why defense counsel and the defendants were questioning her conduct in hiring a black man but not his white counterparts, and why the judgment of a black female Democrat wasn’t as good as white male Republicans.”
The filing in January said that Ms. Willis’s comments risk improperly turning potential jurors against the defendants in the case. The former president and more than a dozen individuals are facing racketeering and other charges for what prosecutors say was an attempt to plot to overturn the 2020 election.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and President Trump has called the charges against him an attempt to interfere with the 2024 election and part of a longstanding effort to politically harm him. Several co-defendants who were charged with the rest, including attorney Sidney Powell and former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, have pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for Mr. Roman, has told local media that she will issue subpoenas in the case, saying that she has evidence, documents, and witnesses who can back up Mr. Roman’s allegations. The motion provided little evidence to substantiate Mr. Roman’s claims against Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis, although neither has publicly denied they were in a relationship.