It’s a ‘silly notion’ that Trump’s Georgia case should be put on hold for the election, Willis tells AP


ATLANTA (AP) – District Attorney Donald Trump is being sued over interference in GeorgiaThe 2020 election said it is their duty to file charges against anyone who violates the law and that it is a “foolish notion” that a former president’s case should be put on hold just because he is running for office. Have been.

In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis declined to say whether she or her team has been in contact with the U.S. Justice Department. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who have filed federal charges focusing on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He also raised the possibility that more of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the Georgia case could take plea deals, reducing the number of people who stand trial along with him.

Willis August is demanding a trial date For Trump and his co-defendants, a deadline that would allow the current contender for the Republican presidential nomination to defend himself in court is months, weeks and even days before the November general election. Will keep. Trump’s lawyer has said If Trump is the nominee, it would be “the most effective election interference in the history of the United States.”

Willis rejected that idea, pointing out that prosecutors across the country are always investigating people for various crimes and they don’t stop doing so because someone runs for office.

“If the prosecutor finds that they violated the law, they have an ethical duty to bring charges and so it seems to me a foolish notion that because someone flees the office your criminal case will be closed,” she said. .

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Willis has alleged that Trump, attorney Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others participated in a widespread scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election after voters elected Democrat Joe Biden as president. .

Four of the 19 people have been charged pleaded guilty After reaching a deal with prosecutors. Trump, Giuliani, Meadows and the remaining others have pleaded not guilty.

Willis and his team have said they want solo trials for the remaining defendants. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case, has expressed skepticism about the idea of ​​trying multiple people at once. He had said earlier this month that even 12 people together could become a burden.

Willis disagrees with the judge on this. “My answer would be that now it’s been narrowed down so we can try, but I don’t know that all 15 will be on the table after we go through the process,” he said.

The prosecutor and defense attorney are exchanging evidence. Pre-trial motions for most defendants are due early next month.

As they examine the evidence and once the judge rules on what is allowed to go to trial, some defense attorneys may advise their clients that a negotiated plea is in their best interest, Willis said. Is.

Asked if he expected Trump to spend time behind bars in Georgia after the case goes to trial, Willis declined to speak about any particular defendant. But he said the indictment contained serious allegations, including alleged violations State anti-racketeering lawWhich carries significant jail time.

“You can look at the laws that we put in place. This is a very serious matter,” he said. “And there are consequences for violating serious laws.”

Willis did not say whether her office had been in contact with Smith, but she seemed to indicate that she had no reason to ask him for help.

“A woman in Georgia is able to receive evidence, look at evidence and make charging decisions, and we can really do all of that in the state of Georgia,” said Willis, a Democrat who is up for re-election next year. he said.

Some Republicans have suggested that their case against Trump is politically motivated.

She has been involved in a back and forth caustic With US Representative Jim Jordan ohio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a close Trump ally. Jordan has demanded that Willis turn over documents, including any communications with Justice Department or federal executive branch officials related to his investigation.

Closer to home, legislators in Georgia passed a law this year Commission to discipline and remove state prosecutors, Willis said he found it “very interesting” that while the law was designed as a way to go after prosecutors who were improperly refusing to prosecute certain crimes, some Republicans have started targeting them. Tried to use it for, “Someone who actually does their job, brought the cases.”

Some Republicans have placed some of the blame for prison overcrowding on Willis, suggesting she is spending too many resources on the Trump prosecution and neglecting other cases.

“They don’t know what they’re talking about in terms of the facts of the jail, nor do they understand the process,” Willis said. He said most of the people arrested are granted bond within 72 hours. He said the law says anyone detained for more than 90 days without conviction is entitled to bond.

The jail is under the control of the sheriff, not the district attorney, and Willis agreed that needed to change. He said county officials “sat on their hands” for too long, not wanting to invest in the jail “and now the chickens are coming home to roost.”

He said state senators should instead focus on the violent and understaffed state prison system that is within their jurisdiction.

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