An entire prosecutor’s office in Georgia has been disqualified from pursuing a case against an ally of former President Donald Trump because she helped raise funds for the ally’s political opponent.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s public support of Charles Bailey, who is facing state Sen. Burt Jones in the race for lieutenant governor, has created “a plain—and actual and untenable—conflict,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said in a ruling on July 25.
“Any decision the District Attorney makes about Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation is necessarily infected by it,” he added.
Jones, a Republican, is one of the 16 people who signed documents to be alternative electors for Trump following the 2020 presidential election.
A grand jury investigation into the effort is being advised by Willis, a Democrat, and Willis had issued subpoenas to at least a dozen of the group, including Jones. The grand jury is investigating facts and circumstances connected to alleged violations of election-related laws.
Based on Willis’s actions, though, McBurney granted a motion from Jones to disqualify her and her office from the case.
Willis can still gather evidence about Jones’s involvement in the election-related efforts but she cannot use any evidence to develop a case against him.
“That decision, as to whether any charges should be brought and what they should be, will be left to a different prosecutor’s office, as determined by the Attorney General,” the judge ruled.
Willis could not be reached for comment. A lawyer representing her office had defended Willis’s appearance at the Bailey fundraiser, noting it was held while Bailey was still competing in the Democrat primary race.
Jones said that the ruling “is a huge win for our campaign—but more importantly, for due process and the rule of law in Georgia.”
Motions from the other electors to disqualify Willis were rejected by McBurney.
No evidence has been presented showing she or her team is impaired by a conflict of interest, unlike in the case of Jones, the judge ruled.
McBurney also denied an effort to quash the subpoenas on Fifth Amendment grounds.
The actions of the electors may merit criminal prosecution, depending on the outcome of the probe, the judge indicated.
“It is not unreasonable to seek their testimony and it is not oppressively to require an appearance by way of subpoena,” he said.