IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why my faith in Fani Willis has been at least partially restored

Her testimony conveyed strength, a clear command of the law and the facts, and a much-needed level of public candor.

Fani Willis didn’t come to play.

With her reputation on the ropes Thursday, the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney strode confidently into the courthouse to set the record straight. It was a surprising and made-for-TV legal drama rarely seen in evidentiary hearings. But will the prosecutor’s impassioned and at times colorful commentary (her preference for Grey Goose vodka sparked a minor social media frenzy) make a difference with Judge Scott McAfee??

Willis tried hard to take back control of the public narrative that is threatening to overshadow her office’s historic prosecution.

Showing flashes of anger, Willis tried hard to take back control of the public narrative that is threatening to overshadow her office’s historic prosecution of Donald Trump and his co-defendants for their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

The issue before the court now is whether there was any self-dealing between her and Nathan Wade, the special counsel she hired, and later dated, to help prosecute Trump and company. The totality of Thursday’s hearing did not seem to uncover solid evidence of wrongdoing on her part — certainly not evidence of wrongdoing that would require her disqualification.?

As I wrote previously, Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for one of Trump’s co-defendants, Michael Roman, needed to provide clear and compelling proof that Willis’ consensual relationship with Wade was improper. But I also wrote that even without seeing any such evidence, the controversy had seriously damaged Willis’ reputation in the court of public opinion. I was, frankly, disappointed in the prosecutor and felt Wade, a well-respected lawyer in Georgia legal circles, should resign to avoid further distractions. I still feel that Wade’s continued participation in this case would be an unnecessary distraction.?

But today, my faith in Willis was at least partially restored. Her testimony conveyed strength, a clear command of the law and the facts and a transparent level of candor that the public had not previously seen. Based on what we know now, Willis’ sexual relationship with Wade clearly has nothing to do with Trump’s corrupt attempt to steal the 2020 election or the prosecution of that alleged crime.

With confidence and candor, Willis disassembled the arguments against her: She made it clear that she is a self-made woman who pays her own way. “We would have brutal arguments about the fact that I am your equal,” Willis said of her and Wade, who once noted, perhaps jokingly, that the only thing a woman can do for him is make him a sandwich. “I don’t need anything from a man. A man is not a plan,” she testified. “A man is a companion. And so there was tension always in our relationship, which is why I was giving him his money back. I don’t need anybody to foot my bills.”?

She credibly rebutted the assertion that she and Wade had ever lived together. And she confirmed under oath and on the record that her personal relationship with Wade began after he started working for Fulton County, contradicting the early testimony of her former friend and (perhaps disgruntled) former employee and deflating Trump’s assertions that she hired “her lover” for the job.?

Importantly, she also discussed the sacrifices that Wade made in taking the position, including the fact that he made less money as special counsel than he did in private practice.

Even so, Willis owes voters more of an explanation about her personal relationship with Wade. In 2020, she promised them that she would not date a person on her staff. (She made that promise in the context of a heated campaign against the incumbent district attorney, who was later acquitted of sexual assault allegations.) By engaging in this relationship, Willis has failed to meet the high standards that she set for herself and the commitment she made to the voters of Fulton County.?

But that’s an issue for another day. Right now, Willis has convinced me that her behavior, while ill-advised, does not warrant her recusal from this case. But today’s testimony has had a surprising secondary effect. After watching her testify, I feel more confident than before that she has the toughness and resolve to continue this prosecution against Trump. Hopefully, Judge McAfee will recognize that quickly and the country can turn the page on this side show and get back to the real story: Why Trump and his co-defendants need to be held accountable.?

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news