Georgia GOP takes first step to remove Fulton County DA Fani Willis in order to protect Trump
The Jan 6 attack continues
What the Georgia GOP is doing cannot co-exist with a democratic Republic. It’s that simple.
On Monday night, the Republican controlled Georgia House approved a bill that will empower Republicans to remove any elected District Attorney in the State if they go “rogue.” This follows the GOP run Georgia State Senate passing a similar piece of legislation on Thursday.
Georgia Republicans want you to believe that the sudden need for this legislation is not about removing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for investigating Trump--as well as other GOP elected officials including Lieutenant Gov. Burt Jones for his role in Trump’s attempted coup. Those GOP officials, however, are undermined by the reality that this legislation was called for by Trump’s allies and is now being publicly cheered by Trump.
The genesis for this law can be tracked to one of Trump’s most visible supporters, Georgia’s own Marjorie Taylor Greene who tweeted in August that Willis was using taxpayer funds “for her personal political witch hunt against Pres Trump, but will NOT prosecute crime plaguing Atlanta!” Trump has also repeatedly attacked Willis with similar words, for example, in September when he accused her of conducting a “strictly political witch hunt” instead of prosecuting “real” criminals.”
That very thought process appears again in the words of Georgia Republican Sen. Randy Robertson—a sponsor of the bill—who stated candidly that the purpose of this bill is to remove prosecutors who “says they can choose--not based on evidence--but on how they feel about their political leanings, who they can prosecute.”
Add to that, last month during Senate hearings on the bill where Willis testified in opposition to its passage, GOP State Senator Bill Cowsert made it plain this was about Trump. When Willis began explaining that she had been prioritizing gang prosecutions and violent offenders, Cowsert interjected, “That’s not what we’re reading in the paper you’re prosecuting.” Obviously, he was referring to Willis’ headline grabbing investigation into Trump.
But any debate about what this legislation is truly about was answered by Trump himself in his social media post on Monday praising the Georgia state legislature for moving quickly on this law. Trump wrote: "The Racist District Attorney in Atlanta, Fani T. Willis, one of the most dangerous and corrupt cities in the U.S., is now calling the Georgia Legislature, of course, RACIST, because they want to make it easier to remove and replace local rogue prosecutors who are incompetent, racist, or unable to properly do their job.”
Trump then added, “This is a great development for Georgia, but also other parts of the Country. Congratulations to the Georgia Legislature for having the courage to act boldly, fairly, and fast!"
Trump is telling all who will listen this legislation—supported by Trump allies in the state legislature—is about protecting him from Willis’ investigation. Period.
Willis—in an interview with NY Times last week--cut through the GOP’s charade that this is about anything but her. The long-time prosecutor stated, “For the hundreds of years we’ve had prosecutors, this has been unnecessary…But now all of a sudden this is a priority.” She also added that the legislation is “racist.” The reason being that the state now has a record number of minority prosecutors — 14 of them — up from five in 2020. In Willis view this, too, is part of the motivating factor for the white Republicans in the Georgia state legislature.
Does anyone think if Willis was not investigating Trump--along with other Georgia GOP officials in connection with Trump’s coup attempt--there would be this mad rush to pass this legislation?! Stop laughing-of course, not.
The Georgia GOP’s claim that this law is not targeting any one group of people also conjures up the voter suppression laws enacted in that state during the Jim Crow era. While these laws championed by Southern conservatives—like grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests—were racially neutral on their face, the clear intention was to disenfranchise Black voters. And those measures did exactly what those conservatives lawmakers intended until the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in August 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson.
However, what is taking place in Georgia with Republicans seeking to remove elected officials who dare defy them is part of larger effort by the GOP to overturn the will of the people. Aspiring dictator Ron DeSantis last year suspended elected Democratic prosecutor Andrew Warren, after Warren said that he would not prosecute anyone seeking abortions. (Warren appeared on my SiriusXM Show last year to discuss the clear and present danger DeSantis posed to our democracy.) A federal judge in January ruled that DeSantis had violated Warren’s First Amendment rights in removing him for his speech but did not reinstate Warren, explaining that as a federal judge he could not rule against a state official based only on the violation of state law.
Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia went way beyond simply one phone call on Jan 2, 2021, to Georgia’s Secretary of State pressuring him to “find” the votes needed to defeat Biden. As The Brookings Institution laid out in a November 2022 report co-authored by a panel of well-respected lawyers, Trump engaged in numerous actions which in their view violate various Georgia criminal statutes.
But now-like in a banana republic—the political party of Trump wants to stop a prosecutor from holding their political leader accountable. This is potentially more dangerous than the Jan 6 attack itself in two ways. First, the GOP will be using the levers of government to legally overturn an election by wrongfully removing Willis. And secondly, it’s sending a dangerous message that Republican leaders can literally attempt a coup and incite a terrorist attack yet GOP lawmakers will use theirs power to protect these criminals from prosecution. How long can our Republic endure if the GOP continues down this path?!
The Dean's Report by Dean Obeidallah is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.