Demagogue Donald—Do Not “Misunderestimate” Atlanta Prosecutor Fani Willis March 26, 2023
For far too long, many Americans, including major media outlets and political pundits, “misunderestimated,” to paraphrase W Bush, the ability of Demagogue Donald to get just about anything he wanted and get away with anything he wanted. His ability to use his father’s money, create his own publicity and celebrity, utter brazen lies, and threaten to sue his rivals made him look bigger in than he ever was. Even more important in Donald’s political rise was his ability to be a superb con man. He created an image of a great businessman (No Way) ready to run the White House on “The Apprentice.” That “reality” show (NOT) made it look like he was a strong business/financial leader who knew how to fire losers at will, and millions of people were hornswoggled by this absurd con. In fact, Donald never personally made the decisions to fire the contestants. According to the Washington Post, Trump may have strongly declared “you’re fired” to contestants. However, these scenes were all staged. Trump didn’t actually decide who and when to fire, according to “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant Clay Aiken. In Aiken’s words, the future “leader” of the free world, was “pretty much a puppet, and the producers called the shots.” Aiken added,” Trump didn’t decide who got fired on Apprentice, I mean, NBC made these decisions.” Aiken stated that Trump “was fed lines and notes through a dummy phone.” This “phone,” in Aiken’s words, was right on Donald’s desk but was really a teleprompter where the producers were sending him notes (eastbaytimes.com, Ross, M., 7/12/17).
Unfortunately, “misunderestimated” “Don the Con” got elected in 11/2016 to head the most powerful position in the free world. In the Oval Office, conman Donald endlessly ran roughshod over the guardrails of our democracy. Now, after four long nightmarish years that ended with Demagogue Donald trying to overturn a legitimate election that he handily lost, Trump may finally have met his ultimate match—Atlanta, Georgia District Attorney Fani T. Willis. On 2/10/2021, Willis launched an investigation into Demagogue Donald’s attempts to influence Georgia election officials after he lost that state’s 11/2020 electoral vote. At the center of her grand jury investigation, Willis is having the Atlanta grand jury look into Donald’s January 2, 2021 infamous one-hour phone call with GA Secretary of State GOPer Brad Raffensperger. In that call to Raffensperger, Trump was joined by his chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, trade adviser Peter Navarro, Justice Department official John Lott, law professor John Eastman, and attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Cleta Mitchell, Alex Kaufman, and Kurt Hilbert. Ryan Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, was also on this phone call. On 1/03/2021, the Washington Post and other media outlets obtained a recording of this phone conversation (Gardener & Firozi, 3/03/21, washingtonpost.com/politics, cnn.com, Holmes, Acosta, & Collins, 1/04/21).
On this call, Trump attempted to pressure Sec. of State Raffensperger into “finding him votes,” despite that GA chief election officer repeatedly telling him there was no error in the GA vote count. Trump’s repeated efforts to convince Raffensperger to overturn the GA presidential election results were perceived as pleading and threatening. At one point on this call, Demagogue Donald told Raffensperger, “What I want to do is this. I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes, which is one more than (Trump’s 11, 779 GA vote margin of defeat) we have, because we won the state (Fowler, npr.org, 1/03/21).” During that phone call, Trump falsely suggested that Raffensperger could have committed a criminal offense. Legal experts have suggested that Trump’s behavior on that phone call could have violated state and federal laws (Lipton, nytimes.com, 1/03/21, Polantz, 3/04/21, cnn.com). In Trump’s second impeachment, this phone call was cited in the article of impeachment introduced and passed in the U.S. House (bostonglobe.com, 1/011/21). Let’s meet Fani Willis.
Fani Taifa Willis (51) is the first Black woman to lead GA’s largest district attorney’s office in Fulton County, home of Atlanta (nytimes.com, Fausset, 2/16/23). Inglewood, CA native Willis’ father was a member of the radical militant Black Panthers and a criminal defense attorney who practiced in the Washington, D.C. area (Ross, J., time.com, nytimes.com, Fausett, 2/16/23). As a child, Willis spent time between her divorced parents. Willis saw the law in action early. Her father often brought her to the courthouse and put her to work as a file clerk while she was still in elementary school. Willis stated that her going into the legal profession was “never in doubt (nytimes.com, Fausset, 2/16/23).” Willis did her undergraduate work at D.C.’s Howard University and received her law degree at GA’s Emory University School of Law (fultoncountyga.gov). Unlike her father, Willis is part of the mainstream legal establishment. She spent 19 years as a prosecutor in the Fulton County DA’s office. During that time, she led more than 100 jury trials and handled hundreds of murder cases. Since she became chief prosecutor, her office’s conviction rate has stood close to 90% (nytimes.com, Fausset). One of her most prominent cases was her prosecution of the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal. In that case, she indicted 35 Atlanta public school teachers whom she accused of falsifying standardized test results in which she used the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) statute (Shamsian, J., 3/16/23). In 2018, Willis went into private practice. In 2018, Willis unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Fulton County Superior Court. In 2019, Willis became chief municipal judge for South Fulton, GA (time.com, 9/28/21). In 2020, Willis won election as District Attorney for Fulton County by defeating her former boss and six-term incumbent Paul Howard Jr (law.com, McDonald, R. Robin, 8/11/20). In 5/2022, DA Willis’ office indicted rapper Young Thug on 56 counts of gang-related crimes under GA’s RICO statute as well as felony charges for possession of illegal firearms and drugs. Young Thug has been held in Cobb County GA’s jail since his arrest (newsweek.com, Staten, A., 5/18/22).
Because of her legal experience and her personality, Willis will not be shaken by the “ y uu ge” scrutiny and criticism she faces in investigating Trump and his allies’ attempts to overthrow his GA election loss. She tends to speak in plain and warm terms as if the “world was her jury box.” However, she has no problems speaking strongly and bluntly when needed to demonstrate her law enforcement credentials. One year ago, Willis, flanked by uniformed officers, strode up to a podium and declared to all those listening, “If you thought Fulton was a good county to bring your crime to, to bring your violence to, you are wrong. And you are going to suffer the consequences (Fausset, nytimes.com, 2/16/23).” Willis can throw sharp elbows with anyone, both when speaking and in her correspondence. In a heated email exchange in 7/2022 over the terms of a grand jury appearance by GA’s GOP Governor Brian Kemp, Willis called the Gov.’s lawyer, Brian McEvoy, “wrong and confused, and rude” among other words. Willis additionally wrote McEvoy, “You have taken my kindness as weakness. Despite your disdain this investigation continues and will not be derailed by anyone’s antics (nytimes.com, Fausset, 2/16/23).” Translation: Demagogue Donald and Friends, do not “misunderestimate” Willis’ ability to see this grand jury investigation through, including to the indictment stage.
Yes, the saying goes, a grand jury can “indict a ham sandwich.” However, Willis’ grand jury investigation is no routine minimal undertaking. In 5/2022, a 26-member special grand jury was given investigative authority and subpoena power and tasked with submitting a report to the judge and Willis on whether a crime has been committed by Trump and his allies by interfering with the GA 2020 election for President (cnn.com, Murray, S. & Morris, J., 5/02/22). In this investigation, Willis sent target letters to people she is investigating. These include two GOP officials, State Senator Brandon Beach and David Shafer, chair of the GA Republican Party (nytimes.com, 715/22, Fausset, R. & Hakim, D.). In addition, Willis sent target letters to 16 people who falsely presented themselves as GA presidential electors (Visser, N., huffpost.com). Under Willis’ supervision, this special grand jury has heard from 75 witnesses including former GOP GA U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler and former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and possibly Sidney Powell ( cnn.com, Murray, Cohen, & Perez 10/20/22, AP, 8/26/22). The special grand jury was dissolved on 1/09/23. On 2/16/23, the judge ordered parts of its report released , but did not permit the release of recommendations for possible charges. He did this to preserve “due process” for anyone who might later be indicted (Murray, Morris, & Cole, cnn.com, 1/24/23, theguardian.com, Beckett & Stein). Several days later, the foreperson of the grand jury hinted that its recommendations were “not some giant plot twist” and that no one would be “surprised (Boboltz, huffpost.com, 2/21/23).” Translation: Do not be surprised if Demagogue Donald will eventually be indicted. Presently, a different GA grand jury is deciding whom to indict and with what charges (See Polantz, Murray, & Morris, 2/13/23).
Knowing that Donald faces great legal peril from the recommendations of the special grand jury and from Prosecutor Willis, lawyers for Trump filed a motion to quash the final special grand jury report and have asked that Prosecutor Willis be disqualified from the case. This motion, IMHO, seems quite frivolous and looks like another Trumpian delaying tactic. Several legal scholars expressed doubts that this Trump motion would succeed (Fausset, nytimes.com, 3/20/23). Norman Eisen, an attorney who worked on Trump’s first impeachment, stated that Donald has had “a half-century of taking a spaghetti-at-the-wall approach to litigating. He throws everything out there to see what sticks. In this case, I don’t think it will stick (Fausset, 3/20/23).”
NY District Attorney Alvin Bragg may get an indictment of Trump before Willis does in Atlanta. The NY case, of course, involves Trump paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. If Bragg gets such an indictment, fine. Gangster Al Capone, remember, was indicted for not paying income taxes, not his many gang-ordered murders and illegal bootlegging of liquor. However, since Trump attacked our democracy from the very beginning of his administration and tried to overthrow his legitimate 2020 election loss, Willis’ indictment of Donald’s behavior in GA would be a far more satisfactory charge. It would show that attacks on our democratic government will not be tolerated, and, hopefully, serve as a warning that such actions must never be repeated again. Kudos to Fani Willis for standing up for our democracy!