Fulton DA disqualified from investigating alleged election interference by Burt Jones

Fani Willis held a fundraiser for Democrat Charlie Bailey after her grand jury had already been convened
FILE - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is photographed in her office in Atlanta,...
FILE - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is photographed in her office in Atlanta, on Jan. 4, 2022.(AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:51 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 2:50 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was disqualified Monday from investigating alleged 2020 election interference by state Sen. Burt Jones, the Republican who is also running for Georgia lieutenant governor.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said Willis’ hosting of a fundraiser for Jones’ eventual Democratic opponent, Charlie Bailey, has caused a “concern about the District Attorney’s partiality” in the case.

McBurney specifically mentioned Willis’ fundraiser for Bailey on June 14, which was after the Fulton DA had convened a grand jury looking into an alleged plot involving 16 Republicans who served as fake electors, one of whom was allegedly Jones.

“By this time, media coverage of the grand jury proceedings was national and non-stop and the District Attorney was the very public face of those proceedings,” McBurney’s ruling said. “She also was one of the faces on the Bailey fundraiser announcement: it prominently featured the District Attorney’s name, photo, and title and was widely shared on Bailey’s campaign’s social media outlets. The fundraiser appears to have been success, earning Bailey’s campaign thousands of dollars.”

While her fundraiser for Bailey was held during his Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial runoff with former Atlanta city councilman Kwanza Hall, “more relevant and harmful to the integrity of the grand jury investigation is that the die was already cast on the other side of the political divide: whoever won the Bailey-Hall runoff would face Senator Jones.

“Thus, the District Attorney pledged her name, likeness, and office to Bailey as her candidate of choice at time when, if Bailey were successful (which he was), he would face Senator Jones.”

McBurney said Willis’ office may “ask witnesses about the Senator’s role in the various efforts the State Republican party undertook to call into question the legitimacy of the results of the election. What her office may not do is make sure of any such evidence to develop a case against the Senator.”

Immediately after the ruling, Jones released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a huge win for our campaign, but more importantly, for due process and the rule of law in Georgia,” he said. “If Fani Willis and Charlie Bailey spent half as much time addressing real issues as they did grandstanding and using their offices to score political points, Atlanta might not have the record number of homicides that it does under their watch.”

“Burt is desperately trying to distract from his leading role in the attempted overthrow of the United States government,” Bailey said after the ruling was issued. “Burt has shown a continued disrespect for the rule of law, but as a former prosecutor I believe that Burt is subject to the legal system just like everyone else.”

Last week, a New York Supreme Court ordered former NYC mayor Rudy Guiliani to testify before Willis’ grand jury. Willis had subpoenaed Guiliani, the former U.S. associate attorney general and former U.S. Attorney who also served as Trump’s lawyer as he sought to overturn the 2020 election’s results.

Guiliani has been ordered to testify on Tuesday, August 9.