Georgia judge gives Trump permission to appeal order keeping DA Fani Willis on election interference case

A judge on Wednesday gave former President Donald Trump and eight of his co-defendants permission to appeal the order allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the Georgia election interference case despite their allegations of misconduct.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee granted a certificate of immediate review, citing Trump and his co-defendants’ argument that McAfee’s decision to keep Willis on the case “is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had.”

McAfee ruled last week that Willis would be allowed to stay on the racketeering case she brought against Trump if Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she appointed, resigned. Wade resigned that afternoon.

Attorneys for Trump and the co-defendants accused both Willis and Wade of misconduct. They alleged Willis was financially benefiting from her romantic relationship with Wade after the two took vacations together while working on the case. McAfee found no conflict of interest but said that because of an “appearance of impropriety,” either Willis and her office would have to step aside, or Wade.

The defendants could not directly appeal McAfee’s decision at this point in the case, so they had asked him to approve a “certificate of immediate review,” which would put the matter before an appeals court. The ruling gives the state Court of Appeals 45 days to decide whether to hear Trump’s appeal of McAfee’s order once the appeal is filed. The attorneys have 10 days to file the appeal.

If the appeals court agrees to hear the appeal and then decides to disqualify Willis, that would upend and delay the sprawling prosecution for at least months while a new prosecutor is selected to take over the case.

McAfee said in his ruling that he plans to continue with the case as normal unless he hears otherwise from the appeals court, which could also simply decide not to hear the appeal. “The Court intends to continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions, regardless of whether the petition is granted within 45 days of filing, and even if any subsequent appeal is expedited by the appellate court,” he wrote.

Trump attorney Steve Sadow called McAfee’s decision “highly significant,” writing in a statement that the “defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified.”

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