Allegations Against Fulton DA Could Upend Georgia Trump Prosecution: Legal Analyst

Trump Defendant Alleges ‘Improper’ Relationship Between Georgia DA and Top Prosecutor

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New allegations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis may have carried on an “improper” relationship with her top Trump prosecutors and used county funds to pay a private law firm could force a recusal that puts her prosecution of former President Donald Trump into doubt, according to legal analyst Hons Von Spakosvky.

Mr. Von Spakovsky, the senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, joined NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Wednesday to discuss the latest effort by one of President Trump’s codefendants to dismiss their criminal prosecution in Georgia and the various other legal battles President Trump faces as he seeks his return to the White House in 2024.

Michael Roman—a member of President Trump’s 2020 campaign team who faces charges alongside the former president and others of unlawfully conspiring to alter the outcome of the 2020 election—filed a motion to dismiss his charges on Monday. Mr. Roman’s motion alleges Ms. Willis and a special prosecutor brought on for the Trump case named Nathan Wade have been romantically involved, that she has paid his office $1 million in legal fees since his appointment, and that Mr. Wade has, in turn, paid for vacation trips with Ms. Willis.

“Willis has benefitted substantially and directly, and continues to benefit, from this litigation because Wade is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute this case on her behalf,” the filing states. “In turn, Wade is taking Willis on, and paying for, vacations across the world with money he is being paid by the Fulton County taxpayers and authorized solely by Willis.”

Mr. Roman’s motion alleges there are impermissible conflicts of interest stemming from his prosecution, including that Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade’s relationship shows they have a personal interest in seeing him convicted, which violates his right to be prosecuted by a “disinterested” prosecutor. The motion also argues that, as a private attorney, Mr. Wade has not sworn an oath of office and thus has not been duly authorized under Georgia law to serve as a special prosecutor.

The motion provides few details to substantiate the conflict of interest claims. The Fulton County DA’s office has not publicly refuted the allegations but told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that it will respond “through appropriate court filings” going forward.

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“This is very serious if, in fact, there’s evidence to support these allegations,” Mr. Von Spakovsky told NTD News.

The Heritage Foundation’s senior legal fellow noted the potential conflict of interests allegations could implicate both state laws on criminal prosecutions and could even run afoul of federal racketeering laws.

“If, in fact, as alleged, this private attorney who had been hired to be a special prosecutor was paying for these luxurious vacation trips for himself and Fani Willis, who had approved the payment to him of over half a million dollars in attorneys fees, that’s a potential violation of federal law,” Mr. Von Spakovsky said. “Also, apparently, [she] may have violated state law by not getting the approval of the county commission to even hire a private attorney and to pay him these fees. So there’s a lot going on here.”

Mr. Roman has asked for Ms. Willis, Mr. Wade, and their respective offices to be disqualified from prosecuting the case.

“If that happens, whether or not this prosecution would continue would be a very big question,” Mr. Von Spakovsky added.

Trump’s Immunity Claims

While Mr. Roman’s filing in the Georgia case could upend the prosecution there against President Trump, he still faces federal charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Arguing before a three-judge panel for a federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday, attorneys for the former president argued that he would be immune from prosecution stemming from his official actions. Mr. Smith has charged President Trump in Washington with conspiring to defraud the United States, obstruct Congress, and violate rights through his efforts to contest the 2020 election results. The former president’s attorneys have argued that his actions regarding the 2020 election were in line with his presidential duties.

Mr. Von Spakosvky said presidential immunity is critical because, without it, no president would be able to act without constantly getting sued.

“What the justices are going to have to do is try to draw the line between official conduct, which is when presidential immunity applies, and private personal conduct, and that’s, in fact, the issue here is whether or not when President Trump was working on his claim that the election had been improperly decided. Was he acting in his official duties as the enforcer of all laws, which, by the way, include a lot of federal laws on voting like the Voting Rights Act,” Mr. Von Spakovsky said.

During the hearing, Judge Florence Pan—an appointee of President Joe Biden—raised several hypotheticals about when immunity would apply, such as if a president ordered the assassination of a political opponent as an official act. President Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer, argued that the president would have to be impeached and convicted if Congress deemed his official actions unlawful and that Congress would be likely to promptly complete such an impeachment process in the assassination scenario Judge Pan described.

“I think he’s probably gonna get a negative decision from these three judges, given the skepticism that they showed in his claims about presidential immunity, I have to say he was not in a very friendly courtroom, given the two of the judges are recent Biden appointees to the court,” Mr. Von Spakovsky said.

In addition to Judge Pan, the appeals court panel consisted of Judge J. Michelle Childs, a President Biden appointee, and Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, an appointee of former President George H. W. Bush.

Mr. Von Spakovsky said he expects the three-judge panel to rule against President Trump, after which he will have the opportunity to appeal his case to the broader D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court. He didn’t speculate how the Supreme Court would rule but said the high court might not finish deciding on the case before the end of 2024.

The issue of presidential immunity could also impact the Georgia case. President Trump’s legal team filed another motion this week, asserting similar immunity claims should put an end to the Georgia case.
Mr. Smith’s efforts to prosecute President Trump may face other legal disruptions. Last month, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese filed a brief, arguing that Mr. Smith’s appointment as special counsel was invalid because he was a private attorney when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed him.

“If that’s correct, then the entire investigation and prosecution being conducted by Jack Smith is void from the very beginning. And that’s an issue that also, I think, is going to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, and they’re gonna have to make a decision about that,” Mr. Von Spakovsky said.

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