Georgia Republicans’ Fani Willis Payback Long Game

This is your TPM evening briefing.
COLUMBUS, GEORGIA - JUNE 10: Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the Georgia state GOP convention at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on June 10, 2023 in Columbus, Georgia. On Friday, f... COLUMBUS, GEORGIA - JUNE 10: Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the Georgia state GOP convention at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on June 10, 2023 in Columbus, Georgia. On Friday, former President Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on 37 felony counts in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents probe. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

When Georgia Republicans began pursuing a Gov. Brian Kemp (R)-backed initiative last summer that would create a state-run board with authority to investigate and oust local district attorneys, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) didn’t hesitate to give away the game from the start.

In a tweet supporting the proposed state-level legislation, the Georgia congresswoman was one of the first to suggest that the effort was motivated, at least in part, by an interest in clamping down on a certain Fulton County district attorney who was, at the time, conducting a certain investigation into a certain former president.

“The Fulton County DA @FaniWillisForDA is using Fulton County taxpayer’s money for her personal political witch hunt against Pres Trump, but will NOT prosecute crime plaguing Atlanta! Atlanta has WORSE crime than Chicago! RECALL!!!” the congresswoman wrote in August 2022, retweeting a since-deleted post about a bill being considered that would allow a state body to recall local prosecutors it deemed “rogue.” The legislation was part of an effort by Kemp and other Republican governors at the time seeking control over district attorneys whose enforcement they didn’t like. The trend began in Florida when Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fired a local prosecutor for, among other things, stating publicly he wouldn’t prosecute people seeking abortions.

The bill has since become law in Georgia and the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission will begin its work in October.

When the legislation passed the state House this spring, Democratic lawmakers and Fani Willis herself spoke out against it, with Democrats predicting that it would ultimately be used to punish Willis for carrying out her investigation into Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the election result in Georgia in 2020.

Those concerns have now become reality. In the days since the Fulton County grand jury voted to indict Trump and 18 of his allies on racketeering and other charges, Trump allies and some Georgia Republicans have gotten straight to the point in gaming out ways to help Trump avoid accountability if he is ultimately convicted in the state. In the hours after the charges were announced, one MAGA activist suggested Georgia state Republicans should change the state constitution to allow pardons for people convicted under Georgia’s RICO Act statute.

Since then, a few state Republicans have gotten even more creative about using their power to go after Trump’s perceived enemies. Last week, Republican state Sen. Colton Moore called on his colleagues to schedule a special legislative session to investigate Willis — an effort that will not go anywhere because Republicans would need Democratic support to pull together such a session.

This week, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Republican state Sen. Clint Dixon announced that once the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission officially begins proceedings in October, he plans to file a complaint against Willis, claiming her sprawling 41-felony-count indictment in Fulton County was purely motivated by an “unabashed goal to become some sort of leftist celebrity.”

Georgia Democrats are left saying, I told you so. Per the AJC:

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who cautioned during debate that Republicans could try to use the new law as a “prosecutorial overthrow” bill against Willis. She said Monday that she wasn’t surprised by Dixon’s move.

“The irony, as I see it, is that DA Willis has to do her very best to prosecute those involved in the interference case on Georgia,” Kendrick said. “Otherwise, she may be subject to removal by this commission.”

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

How Tennessee’s Justice System Allows Dangerous People To Keep Guns — With Deadly Outcomes

Eastman Gets A Two Day Delay In Disbarment Trial – So He Can Surrender In Georgia

Dems Makes It Clear Early And Often Whose Fault A Government Shutdown Will Be

Trump’s BS Ain’t Gonna Fly In Federal Court

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Argument To Disqualify Trump From The 2024 Ballot Enters The Republican Primary — Kate Riga

What We Are Reading

Majority of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers believe Trump won the 2020 election — NBC

Trump ex-chief Mark Meadows asks judge to protect him from arrest as he seeks to move Georgia case to federal court — CNBC

Conservative group to debut ad opposing Ukraine aid during RNC debate preshow — Washington Examiner

Latest Where Things Stand
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: