Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has reemerged in the spotlight after her office charged 19 co-defendants, including Donald Trump, regarding efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
The indictments are a culmination of an investigation that has lasted more than two years and has resulted in multiple charges including conspiracy and racketeering, which Willis has a history of successfully bringing against defendants.
The Atlanta-area prosecutor, who has not shied away from prosecuting high-profile cases, presented her case before a grand jury on Monday.
Willis, a Democrat who is Fulton County’s first female DA, had been in office for only a day when the former president phoned Georgia’s GOP secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on January 2, 2021, urging him to “find” votes to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
She campaigned on the premise of restoring integrity to the Fulton County district attorney’s office, was elected after ousting six-term incumbent Paul Howard and inherited a stack of backlogged cases.
Within a month, her office was firing off letters to Georgia officials asking them to preserve documents related to attempts to influence the state’s 2020 election.
Trump has vehemently denied wrongdoing, as have his allies who are also under scrutiny in the probe. The former president has lashed out at Willis, who is Black, calling her “racist” and a “lunatic Marxist” and baselessly claiming she has ties to gang members.
Asked by CNN in February 2022 about the struggle to envision a former president under prosecution in her state, Willis said, “What I could envision is that we actually live in a society where Lady Justice is blind, and that it doesn’t matter if you’re rich poor, Black, White, Democrat or Republican. If you violated the law, you’re going to be charged.”
Besides leading the election subversion probe, Willis has also brought anti-corruption indictments against Grammy-winning rapper Young Thug and his associates. The district attorney has spoken fondly of RICO – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – and has used it in unorthodox ways to bring charges against school officials and musicians, including Young Thug.
“The way she goes about any cases, she starts at the top and she really dives into it. She follows every lead that she can,” said Charlie Bailey, who previously worked with Willis in the Fulton County DA’s office and on the 2014 Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal case, where she used racketeering statutes to secure guilty pleas from teachers and administrators.
“Ultimately she will make a decision based on the fact that they will uncover,” Bailey told CNN in 2021. “And she’ll make a decision based on applying that pertinent law.”
Read more about the district attorney here.