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THE OTHER SIDE: White MAGA v. Black Fani Willis

Fani Willis’ unwavering determination not to be bullied, her unwillingness to accept blame for her independence and attitudes about men and money upended the MAGA attorneys.

Thanks to TV from a Fulton County courtroom, white Americans have an opportunity to clearly see bigotry in full display, as well as the new sophisticated face of race hatred, coupled with your basic unrepentant male chauvinism. It is what happens when some of the bigots have gone to law school. So, on the cable station of your choice, you could watch a gaggle of white MAGA attorneys try their best to legally lynch District Attorney Fani Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade. Why? Because Willis, a brave Black woman is doing her best to prosecute those who tried to disappear the votes of all those Georgians who voted for Joe Biden. Here is the indictment voted on by a Georgia grand jury:

The Fulton County Indictment of Donald J. Trump. Highlighting added.

It is one of the hallmarks of Donald Trump and his MAGA movement that he and they respond to facts with lies, to civil and criminal charges with contempt and character assassination. For Trumpovia, the various district attorneys, Fani Willis, Letitia James and Alvin Bragg for example, are crooks and incompetent; his accusers part of a vast conspiracy to punish Trump without cause; and the evidence, untrustworthy. E. Jean Carroll and Michael Cohen, in particular, are dreadful, unscrupulous liars. The process itself is always rigged. And so, MAGA targets have included Judge Chutkan in Washington and Judge Engoron and Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan in New York, with special fury directed against Special Prosecutor Jack Smith. Only sympathetic Judge Aileen Cannon of the documents case has been spared MAGA wrath.

One of the defendants in Fani Willis’ wide-ranging election conspiracy case is Michael A. Roman. He is charged with acts ranging from violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act; Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer; Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree; Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings; Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents; and Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer.

As The Washington Post notes:

When Trump won … Roman was made a special assistant to the president and White House director of special projects and research, reporting to then-White House counsel Donald McGahn … Roman was a private investigator of sorts for McGahn’s office, responsible for vetting potentially controversial nominations, according to a former senior administration official …

For the 2020 election campaign, Roman was responsible for Trump election integrity efforts. He was charged with recruiting thousands of poll watchers and ensuring that a network of pro-Trump lawyers were ready to sue state authorities …

He warned in a September 2020 radio interview that far-left activists could destroy Trump ballots, and he stoked claims of fraud in Election Day tweets about Democrats in Philadelphia. ‘They are stealing it,’ he wrote in one post.

After Trump lost in 2020, Roman was deeply involved in the president’s efforts to overturn the result, participating in activities that Georgia prosecutors allege amounted to racketeering.

Working alongside some of Trump’s lawyers and top aides, Roman helped coordinate the alternate elector plan in which Republicans in states Biden won signed official-looking paperwork purporting to cast electoral college votes for Trump instead …

Michael Roman’s mug shot. Photo courtesy of Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

Here is just a bit of what the Georgia grand jury is charging Roman with:

On or about the 11th day of December 2020, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an e-mail with attached documents to MICHAEL A. ROMAN, unindicted co-conspirator Individual 5… and others. The documents were to be used by Trump presidential elector nominees in Georgia for the purpose of casting electoral votes for DONALD JOHN TRUMP on December 14, 2020, despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

On or about the 13th day of December 2020, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an e-mail with attached documents to MICHAEL A. ROMAN. The documents were to be used by Trump presidential elector nominees in New Mexico for the purpose of casting electoral votes for DONALD JOHN TRUMP on December 14, 2020, despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in New Mexico. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy …

And the Grand Jurors aforesaid, in the name and behalf of the citizens of Georgia, do charge and accuse DONALD JOHN TRUMP, RUDOLPH WILLIAM LOUIS GIULIANI, JOHN CHARLES EASTMAN, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO, RAY STALLINGS SMITH III, ROBERT DAVID CHEELEY, and MICHAEL A. ROMAN with the offense of CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FILING FALSE DOCUMENTS, O.C.G.A.§§ 16-4-8 & 1610-20.1(b) ( 1), for the said accused, individually and as persons concerned in the commission of a crime, and together with indicted and unindicted co-conspirators, in the County of Fulton and State of Georgia, on and between the 6th day of December 2020 and the 14th day of December 2020, unlawfully conspired to knowingly file, enter, and record a document titled CERTIFICATE OF THE VOTES OF THE 2020 ELECTORS FROM GEORGIA, in a court of the United States, having reason to know that said document contained the materially false statement, WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, being the duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Georgia, do hereby certify the following … which was an overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy, contrary to the laws of said State, the good order, peace and dignity thereof … (Emphasis added.)

It is certainly no surprise that Michael Roman went after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on January 8, 2024:

COMES NOW, Defendant Michael Roman … moves this Honorable Court for an order striking the special purpose grand jury report and dismissing the criminal indictment in its entirety against Mr. Roman on the grounds that the entire prosecution is invalid and unconstitutional because the Fulton County district attorney never had legal authority to appoint the special prosecutor, who assisted in obtaining both grand jury indictments … Mr. Roman also moves the Court for an order disqualifying the district attorney, her office, and the special prosecutor from further prosecuting the instant matter on the grounds that the district attorney and the special prosecutor have been engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case, which has resulted in the special prosecutor, and, in turn, the district attorney, profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers.

Accordingly, the district attorney and the special prosecutor have violated laws regulating the use of public monies, suffer from irreparable conflicts of interest, and have violated their oaths of office under the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and should be disqualified from prosecuting this matter.

As CNN noted:

The attorneys say in the filing that unnamed ‘sources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney have confirmed they had an ongoing, personal relationship.’

In the filing, the attorneys allege Willis ‘violated her own county’s ethical standards and created an impermissible conflict of interest’ when she hired Wade as a special prosecutor in the Georgia case ‘without obtaining approval prior to appointing him.’

The attorneys also say Wade is being paid far more than other prosecutors in her office and that they used the money to take vacations together to Napa Valley, Florida and the Caribbean. They allege Willis ‘never had legal authority to appoint’ Wade in the first place and that she bypassed normal procedures for such hires.

And here, in the filing, are some of the significant claims Michael Roman has made:

Defendant Michael Roman’s motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment as fatally defective. Highlighting added.

The BBC reports:

In a speech on Sunday at a historic Atlanta church, the Georgia prosecutor said she was ‘flawed’ and ‘imperfect’.

Ms Willis is accused of having an improper relationship with an attorney she has called a ‘great friend’.

She blamed the criticisms on race.

It was the first time Ms Willis, Fulton County’s first black female district attorney, made any public comment even hinting at the allegations since they first appeared in a court filing on 8 January …

… Ms Willis did not mention Mr Wade by name or address the allegations of having an improper relationship.

She focused her roughly 30-minute remarks on the role she felt race has played in the accusations, while defending Mr Wade’s credentials.

Ms Willis said she was ‘a little confused’ why so many questioned her decision to bring in multiple special prosecutors to the case and asked if her critics were ‘playing the race card’.

‘I appointed three special counsellors. It’s my right to do. Paid them all the same hourly rate,’ Ms Willis said.

‘They only attacked one,’ she said, adding that the other two outside lawyers were white.

Ms Willis also used her speech to detail her difficulties with the rampant racism she said she has faced since taking on the case.

‘I am tired of being treated cruelly,’ Ms Willis said, describing feelings of ‘isolation’, ‘loneliness’ and death threats that have forced her from her home.

‘They call me the N-word more than they call me Fani.’

Pretty much from the moment Judge McAfee ordered a clarification from Willis and Wade and a February 15, 2024 evidentiary hearing on the Michael Roman charges, all the focus moved from the attempts in Georgia to steal the election for Donald Trump to their relationship: when it began, when it ended, and had Willis gained financially from giving Wade the job.

And it was only until the state filed its response to the allegations that Fani Willis and Nathan Wade even acknowledged that they had had a relationship:

The state’s opposition to defendants Roman, Trump, and Cheeley’s motions to dismiss and disqualify the district attorney. Highlighting added.

And here is the February 1, 2024 sworn statement of Nathan Wade:

The state’s opposition to defendants Roman, Trump, and Cheeley’s motions to dismiss and disqualify the district attorney. Highlighting added.

In addition, the state attached an example of the racial threats directed at Fani Willis:

Exhibit Four in the state’s opposition to defendants Roman, Trump, and Cheeley’s motions to dismiss and disqualify the district attorney. Highlighting added.

If ever you wanted a clear picture of the racial divide, or a glimpse at how little importance Donald Trump and the MAGA attorneys have paid to the rampant racial threats directed at Fanni Willis, here is the former former president’s February 2 posting on Truth Social:

Donald Trump’s February 2, 2024 post on Truth Social claiming Fani Willis was coordinating with the White House. Highlighting added.

As NBC News reported, the anti-Fani Willis barrage only continued:

Trump attorney Steve Sadow said in a statement Friday that Willis’ response ‘asks the Court to turn a blind eye to her alleged personal and financial misconduct.’

‘Apparently, the DA believes she can make public out-of-court statements about race, this case, and the defendants whenever she wants, and the Court is powerless to punish her by disqualification,’ Sadow said. ‘Such hubris for all to see. Nothing has changed. Our requested remedy remains clear: dismiss the case and disqualify the DA, together with her team and office, from any related matters.’

Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, also filed a response Friday pushing … back on claims that Willis and Wade never cohabitated, adding that she believes testimony will show the relationship began even before Wade was hired.

‘If they had nothing to hide in the first place because they did nothing wrong, then why did they intentionally not tell anyone about it until they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar?’ Merchant’s filing said.

On February 15, 2024, the MAGA team brought forth the witness they hoped would make the case for them. The New York Times explains:

Defense attorneys have said that the relationship between the two prosecutors started before Mr. Wade was hired in November 2021. Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade have disputed that, saying the relationship started in early 2022.

Their timeline was disputed Thursday by testimony from a former friend of Ms. Willis, Robin Bryant-Yeartie, who said she had ‘no doubt’ that the two had started a romantic relationship earlier than they have claimed.

As the BBC reports, “… ex-friend Robin Yeartie said it began in 2019.” Not only did she testify that Fani Willis had discussed the relationship but she said she “saw the pair hugging and kissing, and had ‘no doubt’ the relationship started in 2019.”

The New York Times added:

The witness, Robin Bryant-Yeartie, had worked in Ms. Willis’s office, but they stopped speaking after Ms. Bryant-Yeartie resigned in 2022 to avoid being fired.

As the MAGA attorneys pressed their case, there were, unfortunately, multiple Black victims of their interrogations. Robin Bryant-Yeartie seemed almost a sacrifice. Her testimony had the faint whiff of sour grapes and a bit of betrayal, and the questions many were wondering—why she left her position at the DA’s office and how come their friendship had ended—were never asked or clearly answered. The Times noted Nathan Wade’s quick and curt dismissal of Yeartie’s claim: “Mr. Wade said Thursday ‘I wouldn’t have discussed my relationship with Ms. Yeartie or anyone else publicly,’ adding, ‘we’re private people.’”

And that highlighted a clear difference in this story. What Roman and the MAGA crew repeatedly characterized as improper and clandestine, Wade and Fani Willis, and even Fani Willis’ father, simply regarded as private matters between consenting adults. Sadly, there was no longer any appreciation in the Fulton County courthouse of personal privacy. And Wade’s unsuccessful marriage; Bryant-Yeartie and Fani Willis’ no-longer friendship; Wade’s relationship with his former law partner, Terence Bradey; the alleged sexual assault claims against Bradley that may or may not have ended their partnership; and, of course, the parameters of Wade’s and Fani Willis’ relationship, along with hints that his medical condition impacted his ability to perform were all publicly picked apart by the MAGA attorneys for all the world to see with no concern for any consequences they all might suffer.

Examples abound. MSN notes:

Shortly after Yeartie’s testimony, Nathan Wade took the stand and repeated that his romantic relationship with Willis started in ‘early 2022.’ Wade alleged he had cancer in 2020, which prevented him from carrying on outside relationships during the pandemic …

Willis, who took the stand after Wade, alleged her former friend Robin Bryant-Yeartie’s testimony in the case was a lie.

‘It’s highly offensive when someone lies to you,’ Willis said. ‘I think she betrayed our friendship,’

When Trump’s attorney Ashleigh Merchant continued to probe Willis about Robin Bryant-Yeartie’s testimony about the Wade relationship timeline, Willis accused her of lying, adding it was offensive to insinuate that Willis would sleep with a new acquaintance on the same day she met him for the first time during the conference.

Willis alleged that while she had known Yeartie for three decades, she had not spoken to her for years until she ran into her in Atlanta ten years ago.

It is especially revealing to look closely at the underlying assumptions the MAGA team brought to this case: Fani Willis couldn’t possibly be doing the job she was elected to do, or that she was, in fact, committed to providing justice for the people of Georgia she believed to have been harmed by the actions of the defendants. No, she had to be on the take, seeking some quid pro quo, a financial benefit from a relationship with Nathan Wade. As the UK Guardian put it:

Roman’s filing, in essence, accused Willis of engaging in a quasi-kickback scheme, in which Wade paid for joint vacations to Florida and California using earnings of more than $650,000 from working on the Trump case. The filing also alleged the relationship had started before he was hired. (Emphasis added.)

It is interesting to note that with all the effort put toward tearing Fani Willis down to discredit the case, there was little if any acknowledgment by most commentators of the critical fact that two grand juries had listened to the testimony of many witnesses, especially Republicans, and had chosen to indict the defendants. But, sadly, that work took a back seat to gossip and innuendo.

Ever present was the taint of white fear, and the overwrought focus on Black sexuality that so often haunts the racist imagination. Again and again, the court was told their relationship was improper. Secret. Clandestine. They had co-habitated. And so, the MAGA attorneys, even the sole white woman, Michael Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, spent so much of their time trying to determine if and when and where Fani Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade might have slept together. One attorney after another pretty much asking with an unvarying accusatory tone the always invasive questions, insinuating that any answer they actually got short of a confession would have to be a lie.

Add to the mix the highly ironic and formidable ability of the MAGA adherents to dissemble with the best of them. The New York Times offers this revelation about Ashleigh Merchant:

Ms. Merchant said that Mr. Wade was unqualified for the role. But in 2016, she praised Mr. Wade’s ‘robust legal background’ on Facebook, when she was supporting him in one of his failed bids to be elected as a Superior Court judge. In another post, a photo showed her posing in a Wade campaign T-shirt.

Asked about the posts, Ms. Merchant said recently that Mr. Wade ‘was the most qualified candidate in that race.’

Question after question failed to provide any convincing evidence other than the fact that Willis and Wade had a romantic relationship after he went to work for the Fulton County County District Attorney’s Office. Many TV lawyers and pundit commentators went on and on about how improper their relationship looked, and that considering the stakes of the election interference case, what a poor personal choice she had made. It was difficult to remember that there was absolutely no convincing evidence that Willis had profited from Wade’s employment.

Many reminded us of a pledge she had made while campaigning for the job. The Washington Examiner reported:

Willis has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Wade, who is overseeing the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump in Georgia. She made the vow in a resurfaced appearance on the Patricia Crayton Show from April 2020, when she was a candidate for the office she now holds.

‘I certainly will not be choosing people to date that work under me. Let me just say that,’ Willis said on the show.

‘We are at a place in society where things happen in people’s relationships — husband and wife sometimes there are outside relationships. I don’t think that’s what the community is concerned about, although there might be a moral breaking in that,’ she added. ‘I think that what citizens are really really concerned about is if you chose to have inappropriate contact with employees.’

It seems to me that there is a big difference between a relationship of equals versus an inappropriate relationship of a boss with a less powerful employee. As an independent attorney working on a specified contract, Nathan Wade was hardly a subordinate with little leverage.

The State of Georgia in their reply brief, “State’s Opposition to Defendants Roman, Trump, and Cheeley’s Motions to Dismiss and to Disqualify the District Attorney,” states:

While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek . Unequivocally, the evidence and facts demonstrate that:

    • District  Attorney Willis has no financial conflict of interest that constitutes a legal basis for disqualification;
    • District Attorney Willis has no personal conflict of interest that justifies her disqualification personally or that of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office;
    • the attacks on Special Prosecutor Wade’s qualifications are factually inaccurate, unsupported, and malicious, in addition to providing no basis whatsoever to dismiss the indictment or disqualify Special Prosecutor Wade;
    • District Attorney Willis has made no public statements that warrant disqualification or judicial inquiry; and
    • criticism of the process utilized to appoint and compensate the special prosecutors in this case demonstrates basic misunderstandings of rudimentary county and state regulations, and provides no legal basis for dismissal of the indictment or disqualification of any member of the prosecution.

The motions have no merit and, after consideration of the attached exhibits including the sworn affidavit of Special Prosecutor Wade, should be summarily denied without an evidentiary hearing.

The state goes on:

Georgia courts have long recognized that there are two generally accepted grounds for disqualification of a prosecuting attorney. The first such ground is based on a conflict of interest, and the second ground has been described as forensic misconduct … Defendants advance no argument that forensic misconduct has occurred here, nor have they offered any evidence that would support such a claim. Defendants do not point to any action taken by the District Attorney or any of her staff that has been outside the character of an officer of the law specially charged to oversee either the special purpose grand jury’s investigation or the prosecution of these Defendants …

Instead, the motions attempt to cobble together entirely unremarkable circumstances of Special Prosecutor Wade’s appointment with completely irrelevant allegations about his personal family life into a manufactured conflict of interest on the part of the District Attorney. The effort must fail …

As to Wade’s salary, the state explains:

Like the other special prosecutors appointed to assist with this case, Special Prosecutor Wade has agreed to work with the District Attorney’s Office at a steeply reduced hourly rate compared to the metro Atlanta area legal market. Ex. A (Wade Affidavit). His contract is identical in all relevant respects to that of undersigned special prosecutor, including the government hourly rate offered but allowing for a much higher monthly ceiling of hours given his role, and substantially similar to that of Special Prosecutor Floyd …

In addition, the state notes:

District Attorney Willis went beyond the required county procedure to ensure invoices paid to all special prosecutors were individually approved by the Chief Financial Officer of Fulton County. Any allegation that ORCA or other earmarked funds were misappropriated are blatantly false.

The state adds:

Neither District Attorney Willis nor Special Prosecutor Wade have any financial interest in the conviction of any defendant. The terms of the Special Prosecutor’s contract does not provide any support for Defendant’s claims of financial conflict of interest on either Wade or the District Attorney’s part …

As The Washington Post reported, Roy Barnes, the former governor of Georgia, who seemed to be friends with all parties, added some fascinating texture to several of the central concerns at play here: the notion that Willis rigged the selection process to guarantee the alleged scheme, the claim that Wade was making too much money, the impact of the threats Fani Willis was facing, and the reason she kept moving her residence:

Former Georgia governor Roy Barnes (D) testified about an October 2021 meeting where he turned down Willis when she asked him to take on the case. He said he had concerns about income and potential threats that came with taking on the high-profile case against a former president.

‘I have mouths to feed at a law office and that I could not, I would not do that,’ Barnes testified. ‘I’d lived with bodyguards for four years, and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life.’

Unfortunately for us all, Barnes’ testimony that Fani Willis would have hired him before Nathan Wade, and that Barnes had no interest in working for what he regarded as a significantly insufficient salary, was almost immediately disregarded by the MAGA attorneys. It became increasingly clear that, as they were having great difficulty presenting any convincing evidence to disqualify Willis and Wade, they were, in fact, committed to what they imagined was exposing their moral deficiency. It appeared they never quite understood the world of Wade and Willis and were forced to cobble together a series of suppositions which never quite fit.

So what was it they couldn’t understand? The reality that Willis and Wade were two consenting adults trying their hand at a relationship in the midst of enormous pressure and a campaign of hate. And that one of them was a fiercely self-reliant Black woman who wouldn’t tolerate being dependent. It seemed they couldn’t quite fathom that Fani Willis might have learned along the way not to cede power and surrender choice to a man in her life.

The MAGA attorneys kept searching for the elusive money trail that would prove how Fani Willis had benefited from Nathan Wade’s employment. So very skeptical of Willis’ testimony that she always reimbursed Nathan Wade for her share of the bills, the MAGA attorneys kept demanding credit card receipts, cancelled checks, and bank records—the demonstrable proof they relied upon in their world to chart the comings and goings of their money. This recurring culture clash seemed to me a potent mix of patronization and cluelessness. They just couldn’t believe that Fani Willis didn’t have to run to the bank or the ATM all the time. That somehow this Black woman accumulated enough cash to have it on hand, and that she would continually choose to pay in cash.

Again and again, the MAGA folks kept running into realities they couldn’t quite fathom. Fani Willis took the myth of their timeline and added some texture about her life since she took office and the hate she was enduring. The BBC wrote:

Willis describes having ‘a clear recollection of being alone’ in 2021.

She says that it was the year she turned 50 – but she spent her 50th birthday alone.

‘I have a lot of guilt about that period of time,’ she adds, because her job proved to be ‘very isolating.’

As for her secrecy about Wade:

… she never tells people at work who she is dating.

‘I am extremely private,’ she says. ‘That I kept something private that’s my private life is not any mystery to anyone.’

‘It’s like a woman doesn’t have the right to keep her private life private,’ she adds.

Setting out the timeline of her relationship with Wade, she says: ‘From at least 2020 we were friends, we hung out.

‘In November 2021 I hired him. I do not consider my relationship to have become romantic until early 2022.’

She says it became romantic sometime between February and April 2022.

It seems the MAGA attorneys had as much difficulty understanding why the relationship ended as they had appreciating Fani Willis’ desire to preserve her independence.

Pressed on when exactly she and Wade broke up, Willis says the two might not agree on the timeline when it ended. She says she considers it ended when they had a ‘tough conversation’ in August 2023, but he might consider it earlier in the summer when physical intimacy ended.

She decides to go into the reasons why they parted ways.

‘It’s interesting that we’re here about this money,’ she says. ‘Mr. Wade is used to women, as he told me one time, the only thing a woman can do for him is make him a sandwich.’

‘I have argued that I am your equal. I don’t need anything from a man. A man is not a plan … And so there was tension always in our relationship, which is why I gave him his money back.’

‘The only man who’s footed my bills completely is my daddy.

And her highly accomplished father, former Black Panther, anti-apartheid activist, and attorney John Floyd III offered some compelling testimony. I imagine the MAGA attorneys were hoping that, under oath, Floyd would have to admit that while staying in his daughter’s house, he had seen Nathan Wade during the time Wade and Willis had testified they weren’t in a relationship. But, he threw a major wrench into that story. He had seen the wrong boyfriend.

As Yahoo News reported:

While on the stand Friday, Floyd said that he moved into Willis’ home in 2019 and ‘often’ saw her DJ boyfriend nicknamed ‘Deuce’ coming and going.

‘He was a disc jockey of some kind. I think he had a government job during the day, I don’t know what it was, but apparently he would do weddings,’ Floyd said, adding, ‘All his stuff was always in the way and I always had to push it aside.’

When asked about where Fani Willis had been staying at various times, Floyd tried to explain how it might be difficult to pinpoint where his daughter had been sleeping: “Floyd testified that shortly after Willis was sworn in as the district attorney of Fulton County in January 2021, Willis faced racist threats that forced her to move out of her home.”

Of course, having watched a bit of the previous day’s proceeding, Floyd was well aware he was once again playing by the rules of white America. He seemed to intuit that even Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee might not be prepared to allow the whole unvarnished truth to be spoken out loud, that even these days, a Black man can’t speak the words that were actually spoken: that they had called his daughter “bitch” and “nigger.”

Yahoo continues with Floyd’s testimony:

In February of 2021, Floyd said, a group of people had shown up outside Willis’ home early in the morning ‘cursing and yelling and calling her the B-word and the N-word …

Floyd said he feared for Willis’ safety as death threats rolled in.

‘They said they were going to blow up the house,’ he said. ‘They were gonna kill her. They were gonna kill me. They were gonna kill my grandchildren. I mean on and on and on, I was concerned for her safety.’

And so, as The Washington Post reported, Floyd was really unable to help the MAGA attorneys pinpoint when or where Fani Willis had, if ever, lain her head next to Wade:

Floyd testified that Willis moved out at his urging when threats against her began to escalate, while he remained, taking care of the property — a brand-new home that his daughter had built only to be forced to leave it.

‘Somebody needed to protect the house,’ Floyd said, recalling how he once cleaned ‘the b-word and the n-word’ that had been spray painted on the house, not telling his daughter about it. The threats soon became too much and now the house is ‘uninhabitable,’ he testified.

Floyd also told the court he didn’t want his daughter to tell him where she was staying in case they tried to beat the information out of him.

Then The Post notes:

Floyd said under oath that he had not met Wade until last year and didn’t learn of his daughter’s relationship with him until seven weeks ago — when the rest of the world did. While the two are extremely close, Floyd said he and his daughter don’t talk to each other about their romantic lives. ‘I haven’t confided in her about mine before — when I had one,’ he said.

As for the cash:

At Thursday’s hearing, defense attorneys seized on comments Willis and Wade made about her repaying him for trips in cash, exchanges for which they did not have documentation. Trump has accused Willis in social media posts of not having actually made those repayments and, therefore, financially benefiting from appointing Wade to the case.

“But Floyd tried to explain to the court Friday that he taught Willis to always have large amounts of cash on hand in her home. He said he owned multiple safes of his own and had proudly purchased his daughter ‘her first cash box,’ where he encouraged her to always keep at least six months’ worth of money.

He said the advice was driven by his own experience, where people had sometimes refused to take credit cards or travelers checks from him because ‘of the color of my skin.’

‘Excuse me, your honor, I’m not trying to be racist. But it’s a Black thing, okay?’ Floyd said. ‘I was trained, and most Black folks, they hide cash or they keep cash.’

Meanwhile, Judge Scott McAfee had afforded the MAGA attorneys an often inexplicable latitude. And they had turned his courtroom into the set of a rather pathetic reality TV show. The best-case scenario I imagined was that McAfee was offering them every opportunity to explore every possible incriminating circumstance they could imagine to foreclose any and every potential avenue of appeal. If that turns out not to be the case, I think he owes Willis and Wade and Willis’ father and Wade’s former partner apologies for allowing them to become the victims of a continuing and always outrageous over-reach.

I admit I have no patience for sanitizing racism. There was such a marked difference between the way the MAGA attorneys treated the white former Governor and the Black witnesses. None of the hate and threats Fani Willis had/has to endure seem to have made a dent in their desire to drive her out of office. You may think my take on all this is too harsh and uncalled for. But I grew up a white kid who was early on appalled by the reality of segregated America—the “colored” water fountains and back-of-the-bus seating and white-only lunch counters. In 1960, I demonstrated in support of the sit-ins of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in front of my local Woolworths. We’re talking the Bronx, N.Y., and I quickly discovered that there were many shoppers who were furious to see me picketing.

Racism has always been with us. It fueled the annihilation of those Native Americans who lived here first. And, in my experience, when it comes to racism and antisemitism, there is a palpable and unmistakable combination of arrogance and contempt that is impossible to mask in the beholders. That mixture marks the attitude of those who despise everyone who happens to threaten what they regard as their birthright, their great privilege, their incontrovertible superiority—today’s version of white Christian nationalism.

There is something about hatred that is all-consuming. I mentioned lynching because that has always been at the heart of white racist rage. It is not enough to beat or kill, you must humiliate. And only an inhumane, utterly demeaning public execution, a crucifixion, a lynching, accomplishes that.

The gallows constructed during the January 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C. Photo by Tyler Merbler.

I have been amazed at how little analysis accompanied the MAGA gallows of January 6. The chants of the crowd, enraged by the words of Donald Trump, “Hang Mike Pence!,” a solution previously reserved for uppity Black people, now the preferred ending for the disloyal vice president.

Had the press and TV commentators fully absorbed that crystal-clear message, they might have sharpened their coverage and criticism of everything MAGA that has happened since. How could the media not interrogate the Donald Trump who seeks to be president yet again about what he and his followers wanted to do to Mike Pence?

I doubt most Americans know that when Dylan Roof went into a Black church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015 and killed nine parishioners in their bible study group, he shouted, “Y’all are raping our white women. Y’all are taking over the world.” This enduring myth has fostered and sustained white rage forever, from the Scottsboro Boys in the last century to Trump’s furious, delusional lie about the Central Park Five.

Fani Willis’ unwavering determination not to be bullied, her unwillingness to accept blame for her independence and attitudes about men and money upended the MAGA attorneys. They had acted as if they were her inquisitors and executioners when, in fact, it is Fani Willis who is about to try their clients. It was an unthinkable, galling reality for many of them. Which is why their desire and need to punish her seemed to me a legal lynching.

As The New York Times points out, Willis repeatedly fought back. She said the filings by Ashleigh Merchant were filled with “lies.” She added:

Ms. Merchant’s interests are contrary to democracy, your honor, not to mine … We used to be in a day in time where you had ‘60 Minutes’ and people did stories and they verified information, and you had this great reporting. But it seems today that a lawyer writes a lie and then it’s printed for all the world to see.

Finally, as CNN reports, clearly furious with the continuing invasiveness of their questions, Willis morphed into her prosecutor’s self:

‘You think I’m on trial … These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020,’ she added, pointing toward the table of attorneys representing defendants in the criminal case. ‘I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.’

Even as the MAGA attorneys await closing arguments, they are not done. In a recent filing, according to The New York Times:

Mr. Trump’s lawyers in Atlanta presented an affidavit describing phone records obtained through a subpoena that they said showed ‘just under 12,000’ calls and text messages between Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and Nathan Wade, the lawyer she hired to help oversee the case, in the first 11 months of 2021.

The affidavit from Charles Mittelstadt, an investigator hired by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, also described cellphone location data that the lawyers said showed Mr. Wade’s phone, on at least 35 occasions, being connected ‘for an extended period’ to a cell tower near a condominium where Ms. Willis was living. The investigator said the data suggested that on two occasions, Mr. Wade was in the vicinity of Ms. Willis’s residence from late at night until dawn. One of those occasions was on the night of Sept. 11, 2021.

The State of Georgia responded:

… the phone records simply do not prove anything relevant. The records do nothing more than demonstrate that Special Prosecutor Wade’s telephone was located somewhere within a densely populated multiple-mile radius where various residences, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other businesses are located. The records do not prove, in any way, the content of the communications between Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney Willis; they do not prove that Special Prosecutor Wade was ever at any particular location or address; they do not prove that Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney Willis were ever in the same place during any of the times listed in Supplemental Exhibit 38; and, in fact, on multiple relevant dates and times, evidence clearly demonstrates that District Attorney Willis was elsewhere, including at work at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office AND VISITING THE THREE CRIME SCENES WHERE A MASS MURDER MOTIVATED BY RACE AND GENDER BIAS HAD TAKEN PLACE.

And as USA TODAY noted:

Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, told USA TODAY that the cellphone evidence is almost certainly not the smoking gun that the defense may portray it to be. Cellphone data is often faulty and leads to false convictions or accusations of crimes, Kreis said.

On Monday, February 26, 2024, Judge McAfee ruled that Terrence Bradley, Nathan Wade’s former partner and attorney for his divorce, be called back to clarify his claims of attorney-client privilege. On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, Terrence Bradley was questioned again and again by the MAGA attorneys to get him to admit that he knew that Fani Willis and Nathan Wade had lied under oath, and that their relationship had began before Wade was hired. He admitted that when he had given Attorney Ashley Merchant the sense that Wade had told him otherwise he was just speculating and had no personal knowledge about their relationship. It was a fitting end to the testimony—the triumph of gossip and innuendo over fact and proof.

So, when it comes to White MAGA v. Black Fani Willis, I am betting on Fani Willis.

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