The Damages Done To Georgia's Case Against Trump | Crooked Media
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March 17, 2024
What A Day
The Damages Done To Georgia's Case Against Trump

In This Episode

  • The Georgia racketeering case against Donald Trump can proceed with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in charge. However, on Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that if Willis stayed on, her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, would have to leave the case. He stepped down later that day. One of Trump’s co-defendants accused Willis of misconduct for having a romantic relationship with Wade, but Judge McAfee said it did not constitute the kind of conflict of interest that would require her removal from the case. Former prosecutor Titus Nichols explains how much Willis’ case against Trump has been damaged by the accusations.
  • And in headlines: Vladimir Putin unsurprisingly won his fifth term as Russia’s president, Trump told a rally there would be a “bloodbath” if he doesn’t win in November, and searches for VPNs shot up in Texas after Pornhub restricted access to its site in the state.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Monday, March 18th. I’m Jose Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Andersen. And this is What a Day, the pod that says if you need any more proof that climate change is real, it’s coming for my crawfish, Josie. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Gulf state news outlets and more have sounded the alarm over the past month. Extreme heat and drought could lead to the worst crawfish season on record. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Myself and all the other folks who go to hot and juicy crawfish are going to have a rude awakening. [music break] On today’s show, Russian President Vladimir Putin wins reelection in a race the White House called neither free nor fair. Plus, forget NSFW, now that Pornhub access is restricted in Texas, the hottest acronym in the Lone Star State is VPN. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, we’re looking at the future of the sweeping racketeering case against former President Trump in Atlanta, which will now be allowed to continue despite serious criticisms from the judge. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so this is the one led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. But back in January, one of Trump’s co-defendants accused her of misconduct. And now, on Friday, a judge weighed in. Tell us more about what he had to say. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis’s previous personal romantic relationship with lead prosecutor Nathan Wade, did not constitute the kind of conflict of interest required to remove Willis from the case, but McAfee said that if Willis stays, Wade has to go, and he resigned hours later. McAfee also had a lot of very rough things to say about Willis and Wade and their bad choices in the margins of his decision. He also noted the appearance of impropriety, stating that there were, quote, “reasonable questions about whether the district attorney and her hand-selected lead prosecutor testified untruthfully about the timing of their relationship.” But for now, the case still remains in the hands of Willis’s office. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, it sounds like to me she might’ve dodged a bullet there, but what does this mean for how the case is going to go? Especially since we know it’s going to be a big factor during this election cycle. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: There are a lot of open questions here. Right? And I wanted to answer them by talking with Titus Nichols, a former prosecutor from Augusta, Georgia, who once served as a defense attorney for Reality Winner. She’s the intelligence contractor who was convicted for leaking a report about Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. So I spoke to Titus Nichols earlier and first asked how much damage he thinks that this has inflicted on the case. 

 

Titus Nichols: I think the biggest blow is going to be the prosecution doesn’t really have the moral high ground as much as they did before, because as a result of this motion, now you know the personal details. The DA was dating the lead prosecutor and how long they had been together and everything else, that really has nothing to do with the actual charges. But you can’t just erase it when you’re in the courtroom and looking at any of the prosecutors in the case. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And what about just a slow down? Like how much does losing Nathan Wade slow things down? How hard is it going to be to find his replacement? What are we looking at logistically? 

 

Titus Nichols: So now you have the issue of you’ve got to bring in a new lead prosecutor. You can promote somebody who was already working on it, and now they have to take that responsibility, or you have to find someone else who can serve as special prosecutor. Finding a private attorney to serve as special prosecutor is not an easy task, because whomever you find, they’re going to have to put their whole practice on hold. This is not a case that you can just do in your spare time, or you can just show up to court on certain days. From what we saw during the hearing when Nathan was testifying about how much time that had to go unbilled, he even said yes, this significantly impacted my practice. So unless DA Willis already had a backup lead prosecutor, it’s going to take time to find someone who’s going to take the reins. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And Judge McAfee also had some pretty brutal things to say in his decision. He wrote, quote, “An odor of mendacity remains.” Basically, he’s saying, you guys can still do this, but it looks bad and has really pushed back on some of the decisions here. How could this affect Willis’s credibility, and what does this mean for finding a jury to try the former president when the prosecutor’s office has also had this kind of national drama? 

 

Titus Nichols: It’s going to affect D.A. Willis’s credibility, because going forward, there’s always going to be the lingering issue of, well, you know, she was dating one of her former prosecutors. And so when you’re trying to argue the case to the jury, you’re trying to argue that the government is protecting the people, that the government’s fighting for the state of Georgia, that we don’t have an interest in this case. We’re only trying to follow the law. Well, now, the defense team’s always going to bring up well, you know, the DA failed to disclose an intimate relationship before. What else has she failed to disclose? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: There’s also this entire political angle to this. So both the D.A. and the judge are elected officials who are up for reelection this year. They’ve both had people file against them just in the past few weeks. And now we’re seeing other candidates jump into the race against them so, what does this mean for them as elected officials? Like, what do we think the future holds for both the Judge and the DA here? 

 

Titus Nichols: So it started with Judge McAfee. Of course, Judge McAfee is going to say that the election has nothing to do with his responsibilities as a judge. His job is to call balls and strikes. That’s what the public statement is going to be. Yes, he is declared as nonpartisan because here in Georgia, judges don’t declare a political party. But you can tell that Judge McAfee is not does not have a liberal or progressive background. Judge McAfee is going to focus on trying to show to the widest audience possible. I am a fair and objective judge. You want to reelect me so that Judge McAfee’s race is going to be decided in the primary in May. Now DA Willis is going to have two races she has to deal with. Number one, she has someone challenging her in the primary, Christian Wise Smith. He ran against her originally. And when he didn’t make it into the runoff for DA, he endorsed former District Attorney Paul Howard, who, as we all know, lost to DA Willis. Assuming that DA Willis is able to defeat the primary opponent, she now has an opponent for the general election. That individual is a known Trump supporter. And so what this does now is it creates a reverberating factor long after the motion has been decided, because this candidate’s going to continue to bring up. Oh well, DA Willis did this, DA Willis did that. Remember what happened in the motion. But also what it’s going to highlight is the fact that depending on how DA Willis’s political team responds, they can always argue that if you don’t vote for DA Willis, this person’s going to terminate this case as soon as she’s elected. That this person is a puppet for Donald Trump, who’s just using it too, as a backup plan. Because you could say, theoretically, if Donald Trump loses the general election, this could be his backup plan to make sure that this case gets terminated, even if he loses in November. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So Governor Brian Kemp also signed a law last week that has not gotten enough attention. It would basically empower a state commission to investigate and even potentially remove a prosecutor from a case. We’ve seen this happen in Florida. We’ve seen it happen in other states, and it does seem to be basically used as a political tool so far. So do we really think that Willis is out of the woods here? I mean, could there be some other kind of form of pushback, despite what the judge has decided that could possibly remove her from the case, or basically make it a lot more difficult for her to kind of prosecute this case? 

 

Titus Nichols: So with this new commission that has been created, the the genesis of this commission is that it was designed because you have what they call rogue prosecutors in Georgia who refuse to follow the law. Though reality is that Georgia has seen a wave of progressive Black district attorneys and other prosecutors elected into the position. And the issue is you can’t overturn, as much as some Republicans try, you can’t overturn an election. So with Republicans controlling the State House, they’re using this commission as a way to reel in these prosecutors. The issue that this commission creates for D.A. Willis is because now it’s just another hurdle that’s going to be thrown up to try to say, oh, well, she committed misconduct, therefore she should be removed. At the end of the day, I don’t see it being successful, but it is going to be just another distraction that she’s going to have to dedicate time, energy and resources to respond to because the Commission allows any resident, just about any resident to file a complaint. So you get random Joe Bob who wants to file a complaint, even if Joe Bob doesn’t even reside in Fulton County, was not a defendant or a victim or anything else. It’s the fact that now this commission is allowed to use it as a way to just rein in prosecutors that the Republicans in Georgia believe have too much power. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Georgia, of course, is a crucial swing state. Fulton County is make or break territory for Georgia and for President Joe Biden’s hopes of carrying Georgia and therefore, the presidency. So what do you think the interest in this local race could mean for the national race? In other words, like what do we think this interest in replacing or keeping the judge and the DA could mean for Biden’s reelection prospects? 

 

Titus Nichols: The Biden team has to be careful about not appearing to be biased, but the reality is that this prosecution is going to mirror the national election because it’s holding Donald Trump accountable for the lies he told and the actions he engaged in in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. And with Trump always commenting on it, Trump is going to continue to bring it up during uh campaign rallies. Trump surrogates are going to continue to bring this up and say, this is just a political prosecution, it’s a witch hunt, yada, yada, yada. So although D.A. Willis’s focus will be just on Fulton County and what happened in Georgia. Trump is going to try to put a national spotlight on this, because the more national attention it gets, the more of a distraction it is. Because you see that uh with Congressman Jim Jordan sending a subpoena to D.A. Willis to testify in regards to some alleged uh misconduct, and you’re going to see Congress and other political Trump allies using their abilities as a way to just distract and really just to throw a wrench in the gears. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And Tre’vell, that’s my conversation with Titus Nichols, a former prosecutor from Augusta, Georgia. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Russian President Vladimir Putin unsurprisingly won his fifth term after the national elections over the weekend. Three other candidates ran against him, but it wasn’t even close. Early returns showed him getting 87% of the vote. Those are the highest reported numbers in post-Soviet history, according to exit polls from Russian reporting. If Putin serves through the full six year term, he’ll have been in power longer than any Russian leader since Joseph Stalin. Public opinion polling shows that Putin holds an 86% approval rating, according to the Russian polling organization Levada Center, but it’s impossible to verify the accuracy of these numbers of course. That’s become especially true in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, because after the invasion, the Russian government passed censorship laws that made it a crime to criticize the war. The white House also said that Putin was directly responsible for killing his main opposition, Alexei Navalny, earlier this year. So, like not the most reliable election results in history. We know that there is dissent against Putin, of course, and Russian opposition leaders encouraged voters who didn’t support Putin to show up to the polls at noon as a form of protest, and thousands did just that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over his calls for new elections in Israel. Take a listen to a clip from Netanyahu’s interview on CNN yesterday. 

 

[clip of Benjamin Netanyahu] I think what he said is totally inappropriate. It’s inappropriate for uh to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something that Israel, the Israeli public does on its own. We’re not a banana republic. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Not we’re not a banana republic. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I have a lot of questions. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, on Friday, President Biden praised Schumer’s speech, but he’s still struggling to convince the Democratic Party’s left flank that he is working to protect Palestinians in Gaza. Last week, Biden visited Michigan for a campaign event for the second time this year, and NBC news reports that there were no signs that he reached out to the Arab and Muslim leaders in the state. That’s despite the fact that more than 100,000 Democratic voters in Michigan voted uncommitted during last month’s presidential primary. It is also currently the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The White House usually hosts a big celebration for the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, with hundreds of Muslim leaders from across the U.S.. But Politico says the administration is considering scaling back its Eid celebrations this year. Muslim leaders allegedly warned Biden officials that people may decline invitations in protests for their handling of Gaza. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Speaking of the White House, President Biden and former President Donald Trump kept busy with their campaigns over the weekend. On Saturday night, Biden gave a speech at the annual Washington Gridiron Dinner. The president cracked some jokes about his old age. He kicked things off by telling the audience that his speech started, quote, “six hours past his bedtime.” But he also made sure to take shots at Republicans, primarily Trump. Biden said, quote, “one candidate is too old and mentally unfit to be president, and the other guy is me.” It’s a pretty good joke. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Cute. It’s cute. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I think we have some more material to work with with Trump, but we’ll take it. Meanwhile, Trump spent his Saturday in Ohio at a campaign rally where he said this. 

 

[clip of Donald Trump] Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole, that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country. That’ll be the least of it. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Trump’s team later said that the former president was not condoning violence with these remarks. He was just talking about Biden’s harmful economic policies. But Trump followed up those remarks with this. 

 

[clip of Donald Trump] If this election isn’t won, I’m not sure that you’ll ever have another election in this country. Does that make sense? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: No. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: No. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It doesn’t. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It does not, at all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You’re projecting. Because that’s [?]. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. [laugh] Huh yi yi yi yi. A group of college student athletes is suing the NCAA over its policies that allow trans people to compete in sports that align with their gender identity. More than a dozen female swimmers, track runners and volleyball players filed the suit on Thursday. They’re arguing that the association violated their title nine rights by allowing trans swimmer Lia Thomas to compete in the 2022 national championships. Now, you might remember all of the foolishness about that year’s competition. Thomas made headlines for finishing in fifth place in the 200 yard final, and she tied with one of the plaintiffs who’s part of the lawsuit, Riley Gaines. Thomas also went on to win the 500 yard freestyle, making her the first openly trans woman to become an NCAA swimming champion. Conservatives threw a fit, of course, claiming that trans women athletes have an unfair physical advantage over cis women athletes. Now, Gaines and her fellow plaintiffs are trying to keep the NCAA from enforcing its pro trans policies ahead of the upcoming school year. The NCAA put out a statement on Thursday following news of the lawsuit, writing that it will, quote, “continue to promote title nine, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports, and ensure fair competition in their championships.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, an update on sexless Texas. We told you on Friday about how Pornhub restricted access to its website in the state amid a legal fight over a new Texas age verification law. Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Google searches for virtual private networks skyrocketed on Thursday after the news that Texans wouldn’t be allowed on the site. VPNs allow users to bypass regional internet restrictions. It can make it look like users are accessing the site from different locations. You can see how that would be helpful right now. Searches for this software have spiked in the other states where Pornhub has been blocked due to similar age verification laws. These people are going to learn to get around your anti Pornhub laws. I’ll tell you that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Listen they say don’t mess with Texas okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That’s right. This is bootstraps country. [laughter] They will bootstraps themselves. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, find a way or make one, honey. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, subscribe to my future podcast, Call her Crawdaddy and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just reasons to use VPNs for more than porn like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And go green for crawfish!

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Maybe this is how we convince some parts of the deep, deep south. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: This is how we make climate change a Black issue. Okay? [laughter] Tell them that it’s coming for the crawfish baby. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Whatever we gotta do. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire, and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Adriene Hill is our executive producer. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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