Fani Willis has skyrocketed to nationwide notoriety since 2022. Once a standard District Attorney out of the state of Georgia, she’s made her way to the spotlight due to her prosecution of former President, Donald Trump in a case that has charged the former President with RICO charges for the second time in his life. 

An Enormous RICO Case

The Georgia case against Trump charged him and 18 other defendants with various charges regarding the 2020 election, accusing them of different methods of election interference in the state of Georgia. In addition to those charges, each defendant has been charged with one count of violating Georgia’s RICO statute, which has a penalty of five to twenty years in prison. 

Source: Wikimedia/Tia Dufour; Official White House Photo

Some of the other defendants include Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, and Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff during the Trump administration. Several of the defendants, in the early days of the trial, attempted to get their charges moved out of Georgia to a different jurisdiction, but those attempts failed.

Trump Criticizing Georgia

Trump has gone out of his way to blast the charges from the Georgia jurisdiction as a violation of his free speech rights under the First Amendment, as well as a political witch hunt on the part of the state of Georgia. 

Source: Wikimedia/United States House of Representatives – Office of Robert Aderholt

While most of this is basic Trump talk, spouted all over Truth Social, there are some that believe that Trump’s aggression surrounding the Georgia case is, in part, retaliation for what he perceives as betrayal on the part of the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger. 

The Infamous Raffensberger Phone Call

One of the leading pieces of evidence in the Georgia election interference case surrounds Trump’s call to the secretary of state, a staunch Republican, where he asked Raffensberger to “find him 11,780 votes” in order to flip the state of Georgia red, and give him the electoral college votes. 

Source: Wikimedia/Sean Spicer

The news of this phone call was a bombshell in regards to the various cases that were playing out in the courts at the time. The Trump team had been looking for various loopholes to try and overturn various county elections in his favor, resulting in more than 60 lawsuits being filed all over the country. The Georgia phone call was one of the most blatantly illegal acts regarding his desire to win the election, though, according to the District Attorney’s office. 

One of Four Cases Against Trump

The Georgia RICO case is one of four criminal indictments that are currently playing out against the former President. Two of the four cases are regarding his actions around the 2020 election, and the other two are around alleged illegal actions in the Trump business before he became president at all.

Source: Wikimedia/The White House from Washington, DC

In total, the former President is facing more than 90 different felony charges across the four different criminal investigations. He has claimed political persecution, and stated that he believes that Joe Biden is pushing for him to be arrested ahead of the 2024 elections, given that Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican party in the current election cycle. 

A Significant Win With Supporters…Potentially

This is a story that has won him significant support from his followers, allowing Trump to pull ahead of the other Republican candidates for president in a crowded primary. Primary season isn’t over yet, but he’s already won enough delegates to be the formal nominee for the Republican Party.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

In spite of his popularity, polling shows that if Trump is found guilty in even one of the criminal trials that are currently playing out against him, it’s very likely to ruin any chance that he might have of being president again. Polling data shows that even among Republicans, having a criminal for president is a dealbreaker, and Trump and his allies have gone out of their way to prevent this from happening. 

Trump Delaying Across the Board

Across jurisdictions, this has looked like Trump using his favorite tactic regarding the legal system: delay, delay, delay. Appeals and motions to dismiss and different filings have all been implemented in Trump’s legal cases, and thus far, the tactic has worked marvelously.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

In Georgia, the Trump allies have taken the step even further, though. DA Fani Willis recently found herself in hot water for a relationship that she was having one a Special Prosecutor who was hired to assist on the Trump case, Nathan Wade. 

A Challenge Against Fani Willis

Michael Roman, one of the co-defendants in the case, filed a challenge against the DA’s office in January, accusing Fani Willis of “self-dealing” when she hired Nathan Wade to assist on the RICO case.

Source: Instagram/fultoncountyda

The accusation was that Wade has been hired by Willis in spite of a significant conflict of interest due to their existing romantic relationship. They were accused of “personally profiting from this prosecution” at the taxpayers’ expense, and called for the entire indictment in the case to be thrown out due to the challenges. 

Not the First Choice for Special Prosecutor

The question of the case came down to whether Fani Willis personally profited from the hiring of Nathan Wade. During the trial, she revealed that he was not her first choice for Special Prosecutor, but that he was one of the only men who was brave enough to take the case in the face of MAGA Republicans.

Source: Instagram/fultoncountyda

Ultimately, it was found that Fani Willis, while perhaps not behaving the most appropriately, violated no ethical guidelines. The Judge in the case, Scott McAfee, denied the motion to fire Fani Willis from the case or to throw out the indictment altogether, stating that there was a less drastic measure of ensuring appropriate behavior from the District Attorney’s office. 

An Ultimatum from the Judge

Ultimately, McAfee gave the DA’s office an ultimatum. If Willis wanted to remain on the case, Nathan Wade needed to resign. The team agreed, and Wade gave his resignation to the District Attorney’s office shortly after the end of the trial.

Source: Instagram/fultoncountyda

With that particular delay tactic closed to the Trump team and allies, they resorted to another appeal in the face of a newly-invigorated District Attorney’s office. Yet another appeal was filed on behalf of the defendants in the case, asking the Judge to throw out the case on the basis of free speech. 

Arguing for Free Speech

Free speech is one of Donald Trump’s favorite buzz words when it comes to the cases against him. He has claimed in multiple different circumstances that his behavior and speech is acceptable under the privileges granted by the first amendment, up to and including criminal behavior. 

Source: Wikimedia/The White House from Washington, DC

Of course, the First Amendment is not limitless, and there are types of speech that are not allowed or legal even with free speech rights. Hate speech and speech that incites violence are two types of speech that are disallowed and illegal in spite of the First Amendment, and Trump has been accused of being guilty of both categories of behavior. 

Trump’s Appeal Denied

Legal experts didn’t believe that the argument would work in Georgia any more than it’s worked all the other times that Trump has tried to claim First Amendment protections, and they were proven right. Fani Willis and her team at the District Attorney’s office gained a significant win this week in the ongoing battle against Donald Trump. 

Source: Wikimedia/Ali Shaker/VOA

On Thursday, Judge McAfee issued a ruling denying Trump’s attempt to have the charges against him dropped under the privileges granted by the First Amendment. 

Leaving the Door Open on Future Appeals

“Without foreclosing the ability to raise similar as-applied challenges at the appropriate time after the establishment of a factual record, the Defendants’ motions based on First Amendment grounds are denied,” the judge wrote in the order.

Source: Wikimedia/Shaleah Craighead

In layman’s terms, this means that, while the First Amendment argument didn’t work for Trump at this particular stage of the trial, he could still try to have the case thrown out under the free speech argument in the future. The play is fair game, once factual record has been established in the case regarding the pertinent events. 

Willis and the Trump Team Equally Hopeful

The Trump team released a statement after the ruling, disagreeing with the Judge’s order but stating that they were hopeful given that he didn’t disallow the free speech argument in the future.

Source: Instagram/fultoncountyda

Without further cause for delay or appeals to work through, the case will continue. Willis has stated that she feels confident about her office’s chances of securing a conviction, and has maintained that Trump’s delay tactics are just that, tactics, and that he will eventually have his day in court.