Chief prosecutor in the Trump trial can remain in office

In the trial against former US President Donald Trump in the state of Georgia for alleged attempted election fraud, chief prosecutor Fani Willis can remain in office. On Friday, Judge Scott McAfee rejected the Trump lawyers' request to remove Willis from the case and drop the charges against their client. A little later, the special investigator in charge of the Trump case, Nathan Wade, resigned – thus complying with a requirement from Judge McAfee.

Chief Prosecutor Willis came under pressure because she had an intimate relationship with Special Investigator Wade. McAfee said there was insufficient evidence to show that Willis had a conflict of interest. However, he made it a condition that either she and her team or the special investigator withdraw from the case.

In his letter, Wade said he was offering his resignation “in the interest of democracy and the American public in order to advance this case as expeditiously as possible.”

Trump and his co-defendants had made the relationship the basis of allegations that part of the $650,000 that Wade received for his work on the case was embezzled in order to spend “luxurious vacations” with chief prosecutor Willis – including a cruise in the Caribbean.

Judge McAfee wrote in his 23-page verdict that Willis had made a “tremendous mistake” and had apparently behaved inappropriately. But she could continue working on the case if Wade left. Trump and a total of 18 other defendants were originally charged with 41 allegations in Georgia in August 2023. These include conspiracy to commit forgery, conspiracy to make false statements, making false documents, and incitement to violate an oath of office.

After the election at the end of 2020, the elected president called for “finding” the 11,780 votes necessary for his victory in the southern state in a famous phone call with Georgia's election director Brad Raffensperger. In addition, the confirmation of Joe Biden's victory should be prevented by false electoral votes for Trump.

Trump lawyer Steve Sadow said he was disappointed by McAfee's decision, which he said downplayed the “wrongdoing of Willis and Wade.” Trump himself welcomed Wade's departure in the online service he founded, Truth Social, which he said had “resigned in disgrace.”

Willis had requested that the trial begin on August 5th – exactly three months before the presidential election, which will most likely see a repeat of the duel between Joe Biden and Trump. If she had been removed from the case, this appointment would not have been possible.

Trump is also facing federal charges over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. In total he is criminally charged in four cases.