Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis fights to keep her job as Georgia primary battle draws attention

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is fighting for another term as prosecutor as her prosecution of former President Donald Trump and others in the Georgia 2020 election interference case remains tied up in a Georgia appeals court.

“I plan to win and win big,” Willis predicted in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday night. “I'm at a point where I need Fulton County voters to come out and vote.”

The 52-year-old prosecutor is running for re-election on Tuesday in the Democratic primaries against lawyer and author Christian Sage Smith. He previously challenged Willis in 2020, along with then-incumbent District Attorney Paul Howard.

“People are ready for change,” Wise Smith told CBS News. “People are tired of the old, old stuff from that office. People want to get some fresh air.”

Wise Smith, 41, called for Willis' resignation on Monday. He pointed to a couple GOP-led congressional investigations investigating the district attorney's use of federal funds.

Last week, GOP Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson sent a letter to Willis requesting information about several Justice Department grants and alleging that “the Fulton County District Attorney's Office may have misused funds from these grants to conduct unrelated to finance travel or the purchase of computers and 'swag'.

“It's a very serious job where people trust you to do the right thing and there are constant allegations of misusing that money to do that, it's time to go,” Wise Smith said.

The House Judiciary Committee is also investigating the district attorney's funding and has threatened to charge Willis with contempt of Congress. This month, Chairman Jim Jordan also asked former special counsel Nathan Wade, who had a relationship with Willis, to testify before the panel.

Willis has denied all allegations.

“Jim Jordan has attacked my office again and again for no legitimate purpose,” Willis said. “He has now turned his tricks into grant programs, which I invite him to participate in. We have responded to his subpoenas, yet he continues his attacks in an attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.”

A state Senate committee in Georgia has also opened an investigation into Willis' office and has indicated it is prepared to subpoena her. Willis said the investigation is “not legitimate.”

“And so it's going to fail, and it's not going to go anywhere,” she said.

WIllis launched an election subversion investigation into former President Trump's efforts to… overturn the 2020 election in Georgia shortly after winning her first term. She announced last summer a sweeping indictment for extortion against the former president and 18 co-defendants. Four defendants have pleaded guilty.

Earlier this year, the prosecutor revealed a romantic relationship with former special prosecutor Nathan Wade, who oversaw the case. Wade resigned in March after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee issued an injunction ruling rejecting attempts to disqualify Willis as Wade stepped aside. McAfee is also running in a nonpartisan election today.

The Georgia State Court of Appeals has agreed to hear an appeal by former President Trump and several co-defendants in Willis' position, which could delay a potential trial after the November election.

Because campaign signs are everywhere in Fulton County, Willis makes no mention of the Trump case in her ads.

“I took on gangs and violent offenders,” Willis says in a television commercial that aired in metro Atlanta. “We have seen the third largest drop in crime in America.”

Willis, the first woman to lead the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, points to her experience in the community, including establishing a pre-charge diversion program to give offenders a second chance, initiatives targeting at-risk youth and greater transparency with the law. enforcement.

Wise Smith founded the nonprofit National Social Justice Alliance to combat police brutality and says his goal, if elected, is to end mass incarceration and “dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.” If elected on day one, he said he hopes to create a school-based internship and mentorship program. Wise Smith also wants to divert non-violent marijuana and THC cases, expunge old non-violent convictions and place more emphasis on victim-centered crimes.

“So much time is wasted right now prosecuting marijuana, prosecuting crimes whose basis or basis was intellectual disability, substance addiction or homelessness,” Wise Smith explained. “If we connect people with resources providers who can help them change their lives, then I have more lawyers, more investigators, more money and more time to tackle the rapes, the robberies, the murders and the crimes that really impact on our safety. .”

Wise Smith was the only candidate to appear for a debate last month at the Atlanta Press Club, where he addressed an empty stage. Willis was not present.

If Willis wins the Democratic primary, she will face Republican challenger Courtney Kramer in this fall's general election. Kramer was an intern in the White House Counsel's Office during the Trump administration and a litigation advisor for the Trump campaign in Georgia after the 2020 election, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Wise Smith told CBS News that in the primary he would “respect the voters' decision no matter how it turns out,” but did not say whether he would support Willis if she moved forward.

Willis hopes to prevail despite the ongoing challenges.

“I'm not going to let myself be broken and I'm still going to continue to do my job here lawfully,” Willis said.

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