Judge Overseeing Fani Willis Disqualification Case Now Facing Democratic Challenger in Georgia

AP Photo/Alex Slitz

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has presided over the election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants since last August. More recently, he has been overseeing the motion to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade from the case.

Judge McAfee is up for election this May and it appeared as though he would be running unopposed, but a last-minute challenger has entered the race.

On Friday’s show, Megyn was joined by Sara Gonzales, host of Sara Gonzales Unfiltered, and Josh Hammer, host of America on Trial with Josh Hammer, to discuss the upcoming election and how it could impact McAfee’s decision in the Willis case.

The Challenger

McAfee is facing his first election this spring. The 34-year-old former prosecutor was appointed by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022 to a partial two-year term. If elected, he would serve his first full four-year term on the bench.

This week, civil rights attorney and talk radio host Robert Patillo announced he will challenge McAfee. Patillo is also the former executive director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a social justice group founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson, and has openly criticized the disqualification hearing against Willis.

During an interview on The Shelley Wynter Show on Wednesday, Patillo called the event a “clown show” and took issue with the way the proceedings have run. “Tell me that looks like a well-run courtroom and tell me that looks like what justice should look like in this county,” he said. “They’ve allowed it to turn into a clown show…. The people of Fulton County have had enough of that and are truly looking for a voice that’s from the outside, that’s not part of either political party’s machine and is more interested in being that third rail.”

Even so, he insisted he is not running against McAfee for political reasons. “Judge McAfee is a fine young man… He has a great record,” Patillo told WANF. “I have no aspersions cast against him. I just simply think I can do a better job in this position.”

The office of Superior Court judge in Georgia is nonpartisan, which means candidates do not declare a party affiliation to run. As such, the election does not take place in November. It will be held on May 21 – the same date of the primary for partisan races for Congress and statehouse – and a runoff, if needed, would occur on June 18. 

While Patillo will not have a ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to his name in May, he unsuccessfully ran for the Georgia House of Representatives as a Democrat in 2012. In late 2019, he nominated himself for the U.S. Senate seat held by then-retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, claiming he could bridge the partisan divide.

His social media behavior, meanwhile, suggests he is no fan of Trump. Accounts that appear to belong to Patillo have regularly criticized the GOP frontrunner. Last month, a post accused Trump of having “brain damage” during his Fox News town hall with Laura Ingraham and branded his gold sneakers as “AIR Treasons.”

The Potential Impact

When Judge McAfee adjourned the closing arguments in the Willis and Wade disqualification hearing last Friday, he said he would provide his ruling within two weeks. 

Some wonder what impact, if any, Patillo’s entry into the judicial contest might have on the decision. “This is a jurisdiction that went 70 percent for Joe Biden in the presidential election,” Megyn noted. “And there is a real question about whether this is going to up the ante for the judge so much that he’s now essentially choosing between keeping his job and doing what’s right, which is – if you ask most independent experts and not people on the scale for Fani – to DQ this woman and her lover.”

While Megyn has been impressed with McAfee’s handling of the case thus far, she admitted he is only human. “I don’t mean to suggest he’s going to be self-serving, but he’s human, and it is a big complication, and that’s why they did it,” she explained. “It’s definitely a Democratic move to pressure Judge McAfee.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Hammer and Gonzales by tuning in to episode 742 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.