Judge in Trump’s Georgia case suggests gag order possible for Willis

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Georgia Judge Scott McAfee suggested that a gag order could be imposed on the Fulton County District Attorney’s office to prevent it from mentioning the case against former President Trump and other defendants in a public setting.

McAfee floated the possibility as part of a highly anticipated ruling Friday in which he determined that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can proceed with her prosecution as long as she removes an investigator on her team with whom she had a romantic relationship.

The judge criticized public remarks by Willis suggesting race might have been a factor in the case defendants made against her relationship with the investigator, Nathan Wade.

“The time may well have arrived for an order preventing the State from mentioning the case in any public forum to prevent prejudicial pretrial publicly, but that is not the motion presently before the Court,” McAfee said in suggesting the possibility.

In his 23-page ruling, the judge criticized the district attorney at multiple turns, both for the relationship and for her public comments during her testimony.

After being accused of having an affair with Wade, in her first public comments, Willis defended his qualifications and role in the case.

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court Feb. 27 in Atlanta. The judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case has dismissed some of the charges against former President Trump, but others remain. Judge McAfee wrote Wednesday in an order that six of the charges in the indictment must be quashed, including three against Trump. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, Pool, File)

She implied that race played a role in the criticism over their relationship because they are both Black. Willis argued that people had only attacked Wade, not the other two special prosecutors hired to the case, who are white.

McAfee said her speech was intended to “cast racial aspersions” at Mike Roman, one of Trump’s co-defendants in the case, who brought forth the accusations that impeded the original proceedings.

Still, the judge determined that Willis’s comments did not cross a line to the point where she must be disqualified from the case entirely or that the former president is receiving an unfair trial.

McAfee argued that her comment was “still legally improper.”

“Providing this type of public comment creates dangerous waters for the District Attorney to wade further into,” he wrote.

The judge then went as far to say that a gag order may be possible to prevent a future jury pool from being prejudiced by Willis’s comments.

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McAfee also criticized Willis for her public comments about the controversy and the case against Trump’s 2020 election interference efforts. He said it was an “unorthodox decision” for Willis to participate in interviews with authors writing books about Trump’s prosecution.

Trump and most of his other co-defendants in Willis’s case have pleaded not guilty to their charges. McAfee’s ruling allows the case to move forward after either she or Wade step aside.

A trial date hasn’t been set yet, and defendants have various pending motions to get their cases tossed.

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