Willis’ Case Continues to Disintegrate as McAfee Tosses Six Counts Against Trump 

everything possible / shutterstock.com
everything possible / shutterstock.com

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee handed former President Donald Trump a small victory on Wednesday when he dropped some of the charges against the GOP frontrunner in his election interference case. 

Judge Scott McAfee dropped the counts because the allegations lacked sufficient detail. In his ruling, Judge McAfee found that these counts contained all the essential elements of the crimes but failed to specify the nature of their commission, particularly the underlying felony solicited. The language used in the indictment was considered too “generic” and did not specify which part of which oath of which constitution (state or federal) the officials were accused of being asked to violate.  

One of the dismissed counts involved Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, urging him to “find” enough votes for Trump to be declared the winner, while another count related to a letter Trump sent to Raffensperger urging him to “decertify” the 2020 election results. 

Trump still faces ten other counts in the case, and the judge allowed the “overt acts” tied to the dismissed counts to remain part of the larger racketeering indictment.  

It’s another complication in a growing list of snafus for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and it may impact her ability to prosecute some of the other defendants on her list. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is now left with one remaining RICO charge, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has had thirteen charges against him dropped.  

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was designed to combat criminal activities, particularly those associated with racketeering. Initially used to prosecute Mafia members, racketeering encompasses a range of illegal behaviors, such as gambling, arson, murder, robbery, bribery, and fraud, often conducted as part of an organized criminal operation. It is a federal law, although states have adopted their own versions. 

Before RICO, crime bosses could avoid direct involvement in illegal acts by ordering their subordinates to carry them out, thus claiming innocence. However, RICO changed this dynamic by allowing authorities to hold even the leaders of criminal enterprises accountable.  

The Georgia RICO Act, implemented in 1980, does not require a financial profit to be considered a felony. Noteworthy distinctions from the federal statute include its broader scope, wherein an individual alone can constitute a criminal enterprise and the requirement of only two interrelated crimes towards a common goal for the enterprise. Furthermore, Georgia’s RICO law encompasses a broader range of underlying crimes than the federal law.  

Penalties for violating the Georgia RICO Act are severe, including a prison term ranging from 5 to 20 years and fines equal to three times the ill-gotten gains, with a minimum of $25,000, highlighting the state’s firm stance against organized criminal activity. 

The extensive indictment alleges that Donald Trump and over a dozen co-defendants violated Georgia’s RICO through a “criminal enterprise” to “keep Trump in power.” 

The charges outlined in Trump’s indictments include making false statements, impersonating a public officer, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, conspiracy to defraud the state, and lying under oath, among others.  

It’s yet another blow for Willis, who is awaiting McAfee’s decision on her potential conflict of interest hearing. The allegations centered around her alleged romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor she had hired for the election fraud case against Trump. Additionally, it was claimed that the pair had financially benefited from taxpayers’ funds. McAfee has said he will reach his decision within two weeks. His ruling could potentially require Willis’ removal from Trump’s case. 

Recently, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp revealed plans to sign a new bill, which, if passed, would grant a state commission the authority to discipline and potentially remove prosecutors from their positions. The bill received a 97-73 vote in favor and is now pending Governor Kemp’s signature.  

Under the proposed legislation, a designated commission would investigate and act against local prosecutors who do not adhere to legal standards. Georgia Republicans deny targeting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis despite speculation regarding the bill’s potential impact on her involvement in the Trump case. 

The hits keep coming for Willis in what was an overly ambitious case from the start. The case will forever be tainted with scandal, from secret and unethical meetings with the January 6 committee to accusations of a politically motivated prosecution and a sordid affair.