(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump joined a legal bid to disqualify Fani Willis from pursuing Georgia election-fraud charges against him because of claims that she had an affair with the lead prosecutor, adding that she also “inappropriately injected race” into the case.
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Trump attorneys said Thursday that he’d adopt co-defendant Michael Roman’s motion on Jan. 8 that claimed Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, improperly appointed a romantic partner to lead the case, overpaid him, and took vacations with him. They asked for the case against him to be dismissed.
The Trump lawyers also accused Willis of making “racially charged, extrajudicial statements” on Jan. 14 at a historically Black church that were designed to “divert and deflect attention” from the alleged misconduct outlined in Roman’s motion.
Those comments were “a glaring, flagrant, and calculated effort to foment racial bias into this case by publicly denouncing the defendants for somehow daring to question her decision to hire a Black man (without also mentioning that she is alleged to have had a workplace affair with the same man) to be a special prosecutor,” Trump lawyers Steve Sadow and Jennifer Little wrote in a filing in Atlanta state court.
A Willis spokesman declined to comment.
The filing came amid intense scrutiny of the relationship between Willis and Nathan Wade, who led the investigation that resulted in the indictment of Trump and 18 others on charges that they illegally sought to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump allies have used the embarrassing details to attack Willis, who brought one of four indictments against Trump as he seeks the Republican nomination to challenge President Joe Biden for the White House.
Superior Court Scott McAfee has set a Feb. 15 hearing on Roman’s motion to dismiss the indictment or remove Willis, Wade and the DA’s office from the prosecution. One of Trump’s co-defendants, David Shafer, has said he may join the Roman motion. McAfee is also considering several requests on other grounds to dismiss or limit the case.
Six days after the Roman hearing, Willis spoke at Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church, defending Wade as a “superstar, a great friend and a great lawyer.” She said her critics were “playing the race card” by singling out Wade but not the two White special prosecutors she also hired for the case.
A 52-year-old divorced mother of two adult daughters, she described “the loneliness” of being a rare Black woman serving as a big city district attorney. Willis has also been targeted with death threats and racist slurs, she said.
Trump’s lawyers said the comments by Willis increased the chances of “substantial prejudice towards the defendants in the eyes of the public in general, and prospective jurors in Fulton County in particular,” according to the filing.
By injecting race into the case, Willis violated Georgia’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers, Sadow said in a statement.
“Her attempt to foment racial animus and prejudice against the defendants in order to divert and deflect attention away from her alleged improprieties calls out for the sanctions of dismissal and disqualification,” Sadow said.
(Updates with comments by Trump attorney Steve Sadow.)
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