Megyn Breaks Down the Closing Arguments in Fani Willis Disqualification Case

AP Photo/Alex Slitz

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee heard closing arguments on Friday on the motion to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade from the election interference case against former President Donald Trump in Georgia.

The judge did not rule from the bench and instead said a decision will come in the next two weeks, but the arguments mean a resolution this scandal and what it means for the prosecution against Trump is in sight.

During a special edition of The Megyn Kelly Show, Megyn was joined by attorneys Phil Holloway, Mike Davis, and Dave Aronberg discussed the closing arguments and what could come next.

The Hearing

On Friday, lawyers for the DA’s office and Trump and some of the 18 co-defendants in the racketeering case presented closing arguments on misconduct allegations against Willis and her paramour Wade. 

The attorneys for the defendants argued that Willis should be removed because of the “appearance” of a conflict of interest stemming from her romantic relationship with Wade.

While Megyn was underwhelmed by portions of the 90-minute arguments, she gave Harry MacDougald, the attorney for co-defendant Jeffrey Clark, an “A-plus” for how he distilled the case against Willis. He called the evidence a “bonfire of conflicts of interest,” and argued that “if this was tolerated” the Fulton County DA’s office will be “a global laughingstock because of their conduct.”

Adam Abbate, an attorney in the district attorney’s office, took the angle that Willis was targeted by a campaign “to impugn her reputation” and, therefore, the motion to disqualify her should be dismissed. He had, at times, awkward exchanges with the judge and his team, who were passing him notes throughout his rebuttal. Megyn called it “painful” to watch.

At the end of the hearing, which lasted over three hours, Judge McAfee said that it had “been very much made clear by the argument made today there are several legal issues to sort through” and “several factual determinations I have to make.” In order to “give this case the full consideration it is due,” he said he will “have an answer for everyone within the next two weeks.”

The Takeaways

Megyn noted that the judge had some “good tough questions” for both sides, though she said he seemed to be struggling with a key element of the case. “My own takeaway watching the whole thing was: This judge is wrestling with whether they have to prove that Fani Willis had an actual conflict of interest or whether it will be enough to disqualify her if there was just the appearance of impropriety,” she said. “He seemed to be maybe struggling a little to find an actual conflict of interest, though I think he probably will find it.”

Prior to the closing arguments, Judge McAfee spent some time discussing additional evidence the defense and state have asked to bring forward, including phone records and a witness in California. He implied that he feels as though he can make a decision with what has already been submitted. 

In Holloway’s view, that is a “signal” to the defense counsel that the judge has what he needs. He believes Judge McAfee is “leaning towards disqualifying Fani Willis” and believes the defense went into this hearing “with the wind at their back.”

With that in mind, Holloway put the odds of Willis’ dismissal at 80 to 85 percent. “I think the odds are pretty good… [that] the judge is going to do it,” he said. “But I think he’s going to find the narrowest possible grounds to do it. Judges like to take the easy way when they can find one, and I don’t blame him.”

While Aronberg admitted that “this is self-inflicted wound” for Willis and Wade and there is “a lot of shady stuff going on,” he doesn’t believe the appearance of impropriety will end up being enough. “There is smoke, but I am not sure there is fire here,” he said.

As such, he decided to hedge. “I think the judge could split that hair and actually say that… I’m going to allow [Willis] to remain on the case, but Nathan Wade has to go,” Aronberg explained. “I know that’s an unusual decision, but I think he has to go and I think there’s a 50/50 chance that she does as well.”

Davis disagreed. He said the evidence proves Willis has an “illegal financial stake in a criminal prosecution.” For that reason, he believes there is “no question” that Wade, Willis, and her entire office will be disqualified from the case. “If this judge does his job and follows the law, the odds should be 100 percent,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, Megyn said Ashleigh Merchant – the attorney for co-defendant Michael Roman who put this motion together – deserves praise. “She should wind up on the cover of… lawyer of the year,” she concluded. “Already, she deserves it. But if this case gets kicked and these two get disqualified, this woman deserves some sort of a medal for the legal work she’s done.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with the legal panel by tuning into the episode 736 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.