By Stacy M. Brown
Georgia’s political landscape remains ablaze as Republicans in the state explore avenues to address District Attorney Fani Willis’s recent indictment of former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants.
The controversy has ignited a fierce debate over the intersection of politics and the judiciary.
State Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a prominent Republican figure, revealed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Senate GOP leaders are considering legislative hearings to examine whether Willis is exercising her authority for political gains.
This move comes after her expansive racketeering indictment, which has shaken the foundations of Georgia’s legal landscape and threatens to turn the 2024 presidential race on its head. Gooch emphasized that Senate Bill 92, a recently enacted law allowing a state panel to investigate and remove prosecutors found to be acting improperly, could serve as a potent tool for Trump’s allies to scrutinize Willis’s utilization of public resources.
“We believe she is definitely tainted,” Gooch asserted. “She’s politicizing this, and we want to make sure these people get a fair trial and a fair shake.”
The Republican initiatives represent only a fraction of a broader effort by Trump’s allies within Georgia and Congress to retaliate against Willis and other high-profile prosecutors handling Trump’s ongoing criminal cases. The twice-impeached and four-time indicted Trump faces 91 felony charges across four jurisdictions related to his 2020 loss to Joe Biden and his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Earlier this year, a civil jury found Trump responsible for sexually assaulting an author and journalist decades ago.
Well-known Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has urged the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Willis’s office’s funding from federal sources and any potential coordination with White House officials. Greene has even floated the idea of a state-level inquiry into Willis’s actions.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, also from Georgia, is planning to leverage an upcoming appropriations bill to cut federal funding for Willis, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and federal special counsel Jack Smith, who have spearheaded the pending legal actions against Trump.
However, Gooch quickly acknowledged that there were limitations to the Republican efforts to reprimand Willis. He, along with other party leaders, condemned a petition by first-term Republican state Senator Colton Moore that aimed to force a special legislative session for the impeachment of the district attorney. Such an action would necessitate support from three-fifths of the legislature, including Democratic members.
“We want to make sure we calm down, we look at this stuff deliberately, and we do it in a mature way,” Gooch explained, underscoring the need for a measured approach. He added that he has repeatedly engaged in discussions with Moore, urging him to refrain from derogatory remarks about fellow Republicans.
“There’s a lot of angry people in this state on both sides of this issue,” Gooch told the newspaper. “But there’s still a majority of the Republican base who feel like there was fraud in the 2020 election, and they don’t feel like it was completely vetted properly and investigated. And that’s why a lot of these people are still upset today. They don’t feel like they were heard. and I think Colton Moore resonates with those people, and they support what he’s saying, but maybe not the way he’s saying it and the way he’s conducting himself in the chamber.”
In contrast, Moore remains unwavering and unapologetic. He insists that his GOP colleagues should be incensed about the indictment of fellow Senator Shawn Still, who was among those charged in the Georgia indictment. Still maintains his innocence, asserting that he did nothing wrong when he served as a fraudulent GOP elector. “To hear that I need to tone it down when I’m encouraging my colleagues to do their legislative duty is absolutely ridiculous,” Moore countered. “And I hope the people of Georgia see what’s going on.”
In a recent appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast, Moore issued a stark warning about the potential consequences if Willis’s prosecution is not defunded. “I don’t want a civil war. I don’t want to have to draw my rifle. I want to make this problem go away with my legislative means of doing so,” Moore stressed.
Willis, a Democrat, made history as Fulton County’s first female district attorney and assumed office following a landslide victory over six-term incumbent Paul Howard. She has pledged the restoration of integrity to the district attorney’s office while addressing a backlog of cases.
Willis’s career has seen her transition from the private sector to the role of assistant district attorney for Fulton County in 2001. She gained widespread recognition as a lead prosecutor in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, securing convictions in a case that dated back to 2001, resulting in elevated statewide test scores.
In 2018, Willis worked in private practice specializing in criminal defense and family law, focusing on representing fathers in child custody and support battles. Her election campaign against Howard came when he faced misconduct allegations, including financial mismanagement and sexual harassment. Despite initial reluctance, Willis’s friends said she embraced the challenge, “motivated by her conviction that it was a call from a higher power.”