FEATURED PHOTO: FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY FANI WILLIS
Associated Press, By Kate Brumback, Posted September 12th 2023
The district attorney who brought charges against former President Donald Trump and others over their efforts to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 election sent a scathing letter to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan on Thursday, accusing him of interfering in a state case and pushing “outrageous partisan misrepresentations.”
The letter from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to Jordan, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a close ally of Trump’s, came in response to one he sent last month expressing concerns about the motivations behind her investigation and demanding that she provide certain documents by Thursday. Instead, Willis sent him a nine-page retort detailing the “inaccurate information and misleading statements” in his letter.
“Its obvious purpose is to obstruct a Georgia criminal proceeding and to advance outrageous partisan misrepresentations,” Willis wrote. “As I make clear below, there is no justification in the Constitution for Congress to interfere with a state criminal matter, as you attempt to do.”
A Fulton County grand jury last month returned a 41-count indictment against Trump and 18 others charging them with state crimes under Georgia law, including violations of the state’s anti-racketeering law. It accuses them of participating in an illegal scheme to keep the incumbent Republican president in power after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump allies in Georgia and Washington have relentlessly attacked Willis, accusing her of baselessly persecuting the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and demanding she be punished.
State Sen. Colton Moore, a Republican from Georgia’s northwest corner, on Thursday doubled down on his calls for a special session to take money away from Willis’ office and consider her impeachment.
“Fani Willis is spending millions of our taxpayer dollars to take on political prisoners. It’s the most un-American thing that we’ve ever seen in our lifetime,” Moore told the crowd at a rally near the state Capitol, where nearly 100 people vocally expressed their disapproval of Willis, shouting “Tyranny!” and “Treason!” and “Impeach!”
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp dismissed those calls last week in a news conference in which he angrily criticized Moore for running a “grifter scam” to raise money from Trump supporters. Without Kemp’s support, a special session is impossible unless Moore can get 60% of all legislators in each house of Georgia’s General Assembly — that’s all Republicans and some Democrats — to sign a petition. So far, he’s got the support of just one of the 180 state House members and two, including himself, of the 56 state senators.
Jordan’s Aug. 24 letter demands documents about federal funds Willis’ office has received. It also asks for communications between her office and the Department of Justice, including the office of special counsel Jack Smith, who is pursuing two federal prosecutions against Trump. And it asks for any communications between Willis’ office and any federal executive branch officials having to do with her investigation.
He cites the “federal interests at stake” and says his committee is trying “to determine whether any legislative reforms are appropriate or necessary.”
Willis accuses Jordan of violating the U.S. Constitution by trying to interfere with and obstruct her office’s prosecution and says his inquiry violates state sovereignty. over matters of state law.
“Your public statements and your letter itself make clear that you lack any legitimate legislative purpose for that inquiry: your job description as a legislator does not include criminal law enforcement, nor does it include supervising a specific criminal trial because you believe that doing so will promote your partisan political objectives,” Willis wrote.
Addressing Jordan’s stated concerns about her office’s use of federal funds, Willis attached a summary of programs funded by federal grants, including an initiative to process sexual assault kits and prosecute sexual offenders, a hate crimes prosecution program and programs for at-risk children.
Willis, a Black woman, also suggested that Jordan consider directing the Justice Department to investigate the racist threats she and her staff have received because of the investigation into Trump and others, attaching a batch of communications filled with heinous and violent racist insults.
She cited those kinds of messages in a motion filed Wednesday asking the judge in the case to take steps to protect future jurors at any trial involving Trump and the others. It is not yet clear whether all 19 defendants will be tried together or if there will be multiple trials.
Her request came weeks after the information of grand jurors who returned the indictment was posted online “with the intent to harass and intimidate them,” she wrote. Additionally, the motion said, the personal information of Willis and that of her family and staff have been posted online ”intertwined with derogatory and racist remarks.”
Willis is asking Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to prohibit defendants, the news media or anyone else from creating or publishing images — including video, photos and drawings — of jurors or prospective jurors. She is also asking that the judge prohibit the publication of any information that would help identify them.
It’s standard for indictments in Georgia to include the names of the grand jurors, in part because it provides defendants the opportunity to challenge the composition of the grand jury. Jurors in a trial, however, aren’t generally publicly identified.
Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.