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‘Beyond Disqualification’: Legal Expert Shreds DA Willis After Judge’s Ruling

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Noted constitutional expert and Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz had some harsh words for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday after the judge overseeing her prosecution of former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants ruled to keep her on the case.

Earlier in the day, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis is not disqualified and will remain on the Trump case but added that Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s once-romantic relationship created an appearance of conflict of interest in the racketeering case and, as a result, the prosecutors were prohibited from overseeing the case going forward unless Willis or Wade resigned.

Wade resigned later Friday.

In an interview with Newsmax TV, though, Dershowitz shredded Willis and said that there was “overwhelming” evidence that she likely perjured herself on the stand by lying about when her relationship with Wade began and that she benefitted financially from it.

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“This ought to be a criminal investigation of Fani Willis and the two witnesses. I think we are well beyond disqualification,” Dershowitz said, adding that he didn’t know “if the judge would actually have the courage” to make such a ruling.

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“[T]he established record now highlights a significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team — an appearance that must be removed through the State’s selection of one of two options. The Defendants’ motions are therefore granted in part,” McAfee wrote in his 23-page ruling.

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MSNBC ran a breaking news segment on the ruling on Friday, with Lisa Rubin describing how bad this is for Willis and her team:

We have a decision from Judge Scott McAfee of the Fulton County Superior Court. In a 23-page decision this morning, he finds that there is not an actual conflict of interest that was proven by the defendants here, but he also finds that there is significant appearance of impropriety that infects the entire current structure of the prosecution team.

Therefore, he gives Fani Willis a choice. She can either choose to remove herself and her entire office from the prosecution of this case, or she can determine that Nathan Wade, the special assistant district attorney, who has been helming the leadership of this case, can himself be removed from the case, which would allow her and the remainder of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to go forward. Mika, that’s a victory for Fani Willis here.

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But that having been said, despite the fact that she has been given an easy choice here, notwithstanding that, there is plenty here for the Trump folks to exploit. In particular, he finds that there was a failure to be as completely honest with the tribunal as these folks should have been. The quote that is really sticking in my mind right now is when he talks about the testimony of Nathan Wade and Fani Willis.

He basically says that, ‘They did not put concerns raised by the defendants to rest, that while the defendants did not prove that there was an actual conflict of interest and meet their burden of proof, an odor of mendacity remains.’ That’s a direct quote from page 16 of this opinion.

And he says he’s not an under obligation — again, I’m quoting to you — ‘to ferret out every instance of potential dishonesty from each witness or defendants that were presented in open court, but reasonable questions about whether the district attorney and her hand-selected lead special assistant district attorney testified untruthfully about the timing of their relationship, further underpinned the finding of an appearance of impropriety and the need to make proportional efforts to cure it.

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