Ready, aim, fire: Fulton DA, called by God, lines up her Trump case
Eight "fake electors" got immunity deals. Prosecutor Fani Willis wrote she expects charges between July 11 and September 1.
“God called me,” is what Fulton County DA Fani Willis said about her decision to run for the office she holds, an office that is piece by piece assembling its case against former President Donald J. Trump, in what many believe (including me) is the most compelling exposition of Trump’s mind and intentions after the 2020 election.
Willis grew up watching her father, a lawyer and former Black Panther, and never wanted to do anything else. After graduating from Emory Law in 1996, by 2001 she had joined the Fulton DA’s office as a prosecutor, where she stayed until going into private practice in 2018. In 2014, Willis led the case to prosecute a dozen defendants in the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal, obtaining 11 convictions.
Not soft on going after violent crime, Willis said about Atlanta’s hip-hop scene: “I have some legal advice. Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used,” she offered. “Or at least get out of my county.”
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It’s no secret that Willis is a Democrat, in a city dominated by Democrats in politics. But the “Big Case” she has now could shape national politics coming into the 2024 election season. Rubbing shoulders with high-flying federal prosecutors who want to nab Trump for all kinds of crimes—dealing with classified documents—it’s a very tough and long road to bring a former president to heel for things done in office.
However, piece by piece, we are seeing how Willis’ case might lay out. She offered immunity to eight of 16 “fake electors,” who met in secret at the Capitol before January 6, 2021, when Congress was set to ratify the electoral college results, which should have been a largely ceremonial event. The lawyer for those potential witnesses, Kimbery Debrow, filed a motion Friday countering prosecutors efforts to have her removed from representing her current clients. Debrow said, “the District Attorney has recklessly filed…without any factual or legal basis.”
The DA’s office told the court that Debrow is representing too many clients, and has not properly informed her clients of the nature and terms of immunity offers, and therefore should be removed. Willis has experience dealing with ethics: she served as one of ten members of Georgia’s Judicial Qualification (JQC) Division, which investigates judicial misconduct. It’s interesting to note that the presiding judge over the special grand jury, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney, is also the Presiding Officer of the hearing panel at the JQC.
While Willis maintains—and the special grand jury’s report indicates—that the “fake electors” violated the law, her willingness to trade immunity from prosecution for a fair telling of the events surrounding their clandestine meetings shows the care going into this case and the scope of potential charges. Judge McBurney had ordered lawyers Debrow and then co-counsel Holly Pierson to split up their 11 clients, especially Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer. The Washington Post reported on May 5:
He is not just another alternate elector; his lawyers’ repeated incantation of the ‘lawfulness’ of the 2020 alternate electoral scheme and invocation of a separate electoral process from 60 years ago and 4,500 miles away do not apply to the additional post-election actions in which Shafer engaged that distinguish him from the ten individuals with whom he shares counsel,” McBurney wrote. “His fate with the special purpose grand jury (and beyond) is not tethered to the other ten electors in the same manner in which those ten find themselves connected.”
In other words, what Shafer did is subject to a different standard regarding criminality and his leadership role within the GOP. If that’s true, (it made me chuckle to read Debrow’s numbered point in her outline labeled “Even if the District Attorney’s Allegations Were True, Which They Are Not, There Is Not and Cannot Be a Disqualifying Conflict When the Elector Nominees are Immune from Prosecution.”), then getting the fake electors to incriminate one another, without worry, in order to incriminate Shafer, and then through go-betweens such as Rudy Guiliani, or Sen. Lindsey Graham, to incriminate Trump, would be the path Willis may likely pursue.
Willis is slowly working her way up the chain, like any prosecutor going after a criminal gang, getting the minor players and street thugs to turn on their handlers, and the handlers to turn on the bosses.
Just like in cases where hip-hop artists crow about their crimes in lyrics, we know there’s a “there” there with Trump, who on a recorded phone call asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the 12,000 votes that gave Joe Biden the state’s electors. The fact that a Trump-voting slate of electors, who were operating outside of all legal processes, met in secret (and not just in Georgia), submitted their “slate” to the Archivist of the United States, and then sat by to await the unfolding of the insane John Eastman memo events in Congress, is strong evidence of the former president’s state of mind. Just like the January 6th Select Committee found, Willis wants the evidence to show Trump wanted to engineer an autogolpe, a self-coup.
If truly God called Fani Willis to her task, this would be the strongest evidence of divine justice.