Atlanta

Trump, other defendants file notice they will appeal ruling allowing Willis to stay GA case

ATLANTA — Former President Donald Trump and eight other defendants have officially filed a notice of appeal against a judge’s ruling to allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to stay on the case.

The notice argues the indictment should have been dismissed, and that Willis and her team should have been disqualified from the case.

Earlier in the month, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis and her office could stay in the case if special prosecutor Nathan Wade withdrew, which he did on the same day after controversy swirled for more than two months around allegations about a romantic relationship between Willis and Wade.

He then later ruled that Trump’s attorney and others could appeal his ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

In the appeal notice, Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow and attorneys for several other defendants in the case said, “The public’s faith in the integrity of the judicial system, especially the criminal justice system, is critical to its functioning.”

“When the public perception of the integrity of the criminal justice system is at stake, no prejudice to defendants needs to be shown,” the appeals said.

The filing of an application with the appeals court is the next step in that process. The Court of Appeals has 45 days to decide whether it will take up the matter.

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The allegations that Willis had improperly benefited from her romance with Wade upended the case for weeks. Intimate details of Willis and Wade’s personal lives were aired in court in mid-February, overshadowing the serious allegations in one of four criminal cases against the Republican former president. Trump and 18 others were indicted in August, accused of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally try to overturn his narrow 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia.

The appeal application says McAfee was wrong not to disqualify both Willis and Wade from the case, saying that “providing DA Willis with the option to simply remove Wade confounds logic and is contrary to Georgia law.”

In a statement from Sadow, he said:

“President Trump and eight other defendants filed their joint application for interlocutory appeal today. Defendants argued in the trial court that the indictment should have been dismissed and, at a minimum, DA Willis and her office should have been disqualified from prosecuting the case. The Georgia Court of Appeals should grant the application and accept the interlocutory appeal for consideration on the merits.”

Because of the way McAfee’s ruling was worded, the case can continue unless brought to a halt by the Court of Appeals.

So far, McAfee has not announced a start date for the election interference trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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