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Meet Fani Willis, the DA who doesn’t fear The Donald and prefers vodka to wine

It was just one month after Trump’s call to Raffensperger that Willis began her probe into the Georgia election case, per the BBC.

The case against Trump and 14 co-defendants by Willis claims a conspiracy to commit election fraud after Trump failed to win Georgia during the 2020 . In a leaked audio conversation with Raffensperger, Trump urged him to “find” enough votes to enable him to overturn the result for the state. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,”

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis, pictured in September 2021. Photo: Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

It has been a bumpy road for Willis and her investigators. Some of the charges against Trump and his co-defendants have been dismissed, Trump has said the case is politically motivated, and the revelation of a romantic relationship between Willis and a special prosecutor threatened to force her removal from the case.

Fani Willis’ romance with Nathan Wade

Willis’ personal life came under the spotlight after a court challenge focusing on her relationship with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor she appointed.

Trump and his co-defendants used the relationship to try to have Willis disqualified from prosecuting the case on the basis of conflict of interest.

The pair admitted they were in a relationship but insisted it only began after Wade was hired. Although they took several holidays together, Willis and Wade maintained that they did not benefit “financially directly or indirectly” because of their relationship.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis looks on during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia vs Donald J. Trump, earlier this month. Photo: Getty Images

Willis voluntarily took to the stand, and it was during her testimony that she shared details of the romance, including that the couple had travelled to Aruba, Belize, and Napa Valley. Other information included in her testimony was that she always carries US$200 in cash on dates, that Wade is a “stereotypical Southern alpha male”, and that she preferred Grey Goose vodka to wine.

Per The New York Times, there were heated moments in Willis’ testimony, with Judge Scott McAfee scolding her for being “unprofessional”. Ultimately McAfee ruled that while there was an “appearance of impropriety”, it was not enough to “support a finding of an actual conflict of interest”, so long as either Willis’ office or Wade himself stepped down. Wade is no longer part of the team.

What racial allegations did Fani Willis make?

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis giving a news conference, on the day in August 2023 when former president Donald Trump was indicted in the 2020 Georgia election case. Photo: Getty Images

According to the New York Post, Trump’s lawyers claimed that a public statement by Willis “intentionally and in bad faith injected race, religion, and politics into the case and stoked racial animus”. The reference was made in relation to a speech made by Willis at a church in Atlanta, in which she stated that the court filing was laid against her and the prosecutor because they are Black.

How did Fani Willis rise to power?

Fani Willis pictured in New York City in December 2023. Photo: Getty Images

Willis’ father, John Clifford Floyd III, was a criminal defence lawyer, so a career in law was in the blood, it seems. According to the BBC, Willis’ father was her primary parent, and she attended Howard University, later receiving a law degree from Emory University in Georgia. She joined the Fulton County district attorney’s office and worked there for nearly two decades, leading more than 100 jury trials. In 2020 she became the first woman to serve as Fulton County district attorney, beating out her previous boss, Paul Howard, for the top job.