Let me clear things up. I’m not talking about Stacey Abrams. Abrams was a dragon slayer. She came up with a strategy that politically put Democrats in a position to flip Georgia’s electoral votes and both Senate seats, but she didn’t create the dragon she fought. Abrams didn’t slay the dragon either. But another Black Georgia woman may be the dragon slayer.
Fulton County’s new district attorney, Fani Willis, is a veteran prosecutor, who worked the Major Case and Cold Case Divisions in DA’s office for eight years. Willis is also the first woman to be elected as Georgia’s largest county’s DA. She’s taking on the Moby Dick of all major cases: investigating former President Donald J. Trump for illegally attempting to interfere in the administration of the 2020 general election.
Willis sent a letter to Georgia’s top elected officials, notifying them “that all records potentially related to the administration of the 2020 General Election must be preserved, with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who where administering that election.”
Leaving the DA’s office in 2018 for private practice, Willis took on her old boss, long time Fulton DA Paul Howard, and beat him in the Democratic primary (there was no Republican challenger). Nobody had run against Howard since Willis graduated Emory Law School in 2000. Howard faced his own demons, including a scandal over $170,000 in Atlanta city funds earmarked for reducing youth violence that found its way into Howard’s wallet.
As deputy DA running the Complex Trial Division, Willis gained experience prosecuting “some of the most egregious, most multi-defendant bearing cases in Fulton County’s history.” Now, she’s opened an investigation into the former president’s efforts to find “11,000 votes” to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Since Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger lives in Fulton County, Willis believes her agency is the right organization to pursue the case.
Willis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that her office was best suited to handle the investigation since all other relevant state investigative agencies have conflicts. In her letter, Willis said her office “is the one agency with jurisdiction that is not a witness to the conduct that is the subject of the investigation.”
“I don’t have any predetermined opinions” about whether a prosecution will even occur, she said. Willis would not say whether anyone else besides the former president is under investigation.
Raffensperger’s office also opened its own investigation into Trump’s call, though he told ABC News in early February that the Fulton DA would be the “appropriate venue” for the investigation.
Is this a political stunt? I don’t think so. I think Trump’s call, though purportedly a conference call between attorneys dealing with the Trump campaign’s requests for information and access to ballot data from state and county officials, was anything but a friendly conference between lawyers. The lawyers listened in mute horror, barely able to get a word in, as Trump badgered Raffensperger, alternately presenting his own set of “facts,” pleading “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,” and issuing thinly veiled threats, “The only people that like you are people that will never vote for you. You know that, Brad, right?”
If there’s a smoking gun illustrating Trump’s frame of mind, that call, which Raffensperger released to the Washington Post in full, is about as complete a record as you’ll find.
In fact, Democratic Party House Impeachment Managers are using it as evidence, calling it “the most egregious” example of Trump’s false election claims.
“In the months the president made the statements, people listened,” [U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado] said Wednesday, the second day of Trump’s second impeachment trial. “Armed supporters surrounded election officials’ homes. The secretary of state for Georgia got death threats. Officials warned the president that his rhetoric was dangerous and it was going to result in deadly violence.”
Impeachment is a political act of will. Senate Republicans lack the courage to recognize that Trump meant everything he said on the call with Raffensperger, at his rallies, and in other conversations with Republicans, his lawyers, his campaign team, and his family. They likely won’t even call witnesses, because there aren’t 17 Republicans who will vote for conviction. Senators make a poor jury.
But in Georgia, a Fulton County jury will be much less motivated by politics. Fani Willis has cooperative witnesses, a trove of physical evidence, and the tools of the trade she accumulated over her years of prosecuting cases.
If Trump is going to be convicted in a court for his actions, it will likely fall to a Black woman in Fulton County, Georgia, who will become America’s dragon slayer.
In another news tidbit, the tragedy of Trump’s words have sad consequences. An 18-year-old from Milton, Georgia, right up the road from where I live, faces federal charges for getting caught up in the events of January 6th.
At bond hearing for Bruno Joseph Cua in federal court in Atlanta, prosecutor Ryan Buchanan said Cua will face a 12-count federal indictment related to the Capitol siege.
Cua was arrested last Friday on five charges, including the assault on a federal officer, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building and violently demonstrating on Capitol grounds.
Young Cua rode up to Washington, D.C. with his parents, who walked to the Capitol after Trump’s speech, but hung back. He walked forward to get a closer look, and was quickly lost in the crowd. Cua later turned up in the Senate chamber.
Here he is, in a still frame from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
It’s sad that a kid like this, who doesn’t deserve to have his life ruined, will likely go to prison, live with a felony record, and not live the life he expected before January 6th. All he did was listen to his president, and do what the man said. Poor choices, yes. But to say Trump wasn’t responsible for this kid’s ruined life is a stretch I’m not willing to make.
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