Fani Willis has made national headlines in recent months far more than most District Attorneys would, even for those who take on high risk cases. The case that she’s chosen to take on is no standard case, though. Taking on the former president of the United States is no small feat, and Fani Willis has made clear that she’s here to win.

A Unique State Case

Fani Willis’ prosecution of Donald Trump is unique from two of the three other cases against him in one way, and different from all of the others in another big way. The case regards Donald Trump’s involvement with the efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, which is similar to the case in Washington D.C. that is currently being led by Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith.

Source: Wikimedia/The White House

The other two cases against Trump, one in New York and one in Florida, have nothing to do with election interference. The New York trial centers around alleged hush money payments that Trump made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and the Florida case has to do with classified documents that were found at Donald Trump’s property at Mar-a-Lago, well after he left the White House and forfeited rights to them.

Charged Under the RICO Statute

While the Georgia case is a state case like Florida and New York, and the D.C. case is federal, it differs from the other three cases in a major way. The Georgia case is targeting not only Trump, but eighteen other conspirators alongside him, and they are being charged under the Georgia RICO statute.

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RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, is the federal or state law that allows a prosecutor to charge a group of people with one crime, rather than charging them individually with different crimes. Famously, it has been used to take down criminal organizations like the Five Families of New York, back in the 1980’s.

A Criminal Conspiracy

The implication with the RICO charge in Georgia is that Trump and his co-defendants were working together in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. Willis’ department claims that this was bigger than merely trying to get Georgia’s election overturned.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The indictment against Trump and his co-conspirators points out that Trump also attempted to overturn elections in other states, including Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. With a state charge, these other actions would generally be irrelevant, but with a RICO case, they’re able to be taken into account to tell the entire story of the crime.

State Charges Are Easier to Prove

Georgia state RICO charges are easier to prove than federal RICO charges, and the statute has become Fani Willis’ calling card in her term as District Attorney. She’s brought the charges against multiple different individuals and organizations, including the rapper Young Thug.

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The road from indictment to conviction is never a smooth one, though. Willis has been clear that she’s confident that she can get a conviction against the former president and his co-defendants, and several of the defendants have already agreed to testify in the case in exchange for a plea deal.

Attempts to Dismiss the Case

Flipping the co-defendants has made those remaining that much more determined to get the case thrown out. Multiple appeals have been filed with the court that have asked the charges to be dismissed for various reasons.

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Efforts have even been made to get Fani Willis removed from the case altogether. A motion was recently filed, seeking for the charges against the defendants to be overturned and Willis to be dropped from the case, given her prior romantic relationship with Special Counsel, Nathan Wade.

Alleging Inappropriate Conduct Against Wade and Willis

Wade was one of three special counsels that were brought on to assist in the RICO case by Willis and her office. The lawsuit against them alleged that Willis and Wade had unfairly benefited from the hiring of Wade on the case, launching both an office and personal ethics investigation by the state of Georgia.

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The suit was ultimately unsuccessful at either having the charges thrown out or having Willis removed from the case. Willis and Wade were given an ultimatum for their unprofessional conduct: Wade could leave the case, or Willis could.

The Case Was Allowed to Proceed

Nathan Wade resigned from the DA’s office shortly after that, allowing Willis to continue her prosecution of the RICO case and Donald Trump. The decision is currently being appealed, and the accusations that were brought up in the pursuit of having her thrown out have raised some concerns about the way the District Attorney’s office has used funds in recent years.

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A recent report from the Fulton County Procurement Review – conducted by the accounting firm Cherry Bekaert – indicated that the prosecutor’s office, under Fani Willis’ leadership, has show a significant lack of accountability compared to other elected officials, in terms of making purchases using taxpayer funds without following the appropriate procedures.

Policies and Procedures

Willis’ leadership was characterized by “prosecutorial discretion,” according to the report. Outlets reporting on the issue have pointed to her hiring of Nathan Wade, as well as the $700,000 that he was paid in taxpayer funds for his involvement in the case as evidence of this accusation.

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The report points out that even if the needs of the office fell outside the scope of the purchasing overseer, Willis could still “Seek alternative procurement methods without established procurement policies and procedures…This lack of accountability could damage the County’s reputation and erode public trust if perceived as mismanagement or inadequate oversight of public funds.”

An Exception in the Area

Fulton County has a generally low risk level for procurement, meaning that Willis’ office has stood out as the exception among other, more compliant departments in the area.

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The report followed a statement from the Department of Justice, indicating that Willis’ department was under investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives for “inconsistencies” in Willis’ reporting of federal funds.

Investigations by the House of Representatives

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), heading the Oversight Committee Probe, suggested that Willis might be diverting anti-gang funds to support her prosecution against Donald Trump, citing whistleblower testimony that hasn’t been made public.

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Willis has fought back against this accusation, though, showing her resistance to oversight. In a letter made to Jordan, she said, “We have already provided you with substantial information about our programs that are funded via federal grants.”

A Rebuttal from Willis

She continued, “Your primary complaint appears to be that we did not complete the production of your extension document demands (including five categories of documents over a four-year period) in less than two months.”

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“That demand is unreasonable and uncustomary and would require this government office to divert resources from our primary purpose of prosecuting crime,” she went on. “We will not shut down this office’s efforts to prosecute crimes – including gang activity, acts of violence and public corruption – to meet unreasonable deadlines in your politically motivated ‘investigation’ of this office.”

A Stunning Conclusion

Willis, in her statement to Jordan, even went so far as to imply that any investigation that was aimed at obstructing her inquiry of Donald Trump would be the same as the violent and racist threats that she claims to have faced due to her investigation.

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“Let me state this clearly: nothing that you do will derail the efforts of my staff and I to bring the election interference prosecution to trial, so that a jury of Fulton County citizens can determine the guilt or innocence of the defendants. My family, my staff, and I have been threatened repeatedly, by people making violent, often racist, attacks.”

Willis Looking Forward to Trial

With an investigation currently ongoing in the House of Representatives, an ethics probe being conducted by the Georgia state legislature, and the court case against Trump and his fellow defendants still pending trial, it’s unlikely that Fani Willis will be out of the news anytime soon.

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Whether the next headline about the District Attorney is going to be positive or negative is anybody’s guess. It’s clear that she’s passionate about doing her job, and is determined to ensure that Donald Trump sees his day in court. She has quite an uphill battle before that day, but the country is watching regardless.