In May of this year, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis convened a grand jury to investigate Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find votes” in order to shift Georgia’s presidential tally his way.
It’s never been terribly clear why Willis is doing this. Is she ambitious and using the investigation to make a name for herself? Is she using it as a springboard for some other employment or higher office? Or is she a true believer and thinks she can find a smoking gun to pin on the former president? It seems like a major waste of taxpayer money.
Some high-profile names in state politics have testified, including Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who spoke to the grand jury earlier this week. But a judge has struck one name from Willis’ list because of a conflict of interest.
State Sen. Burt Jones (R-25th district) is running for lieutenant governor, and Willis wanted to subpoena him to ask about his role as part of an alternate slate of electors who would have chosen Trump as Georgia’s presidential election winner. The attempt to paint Jones as an insurrectionist is painfully obvious; one of the first sentences on his Wikipedia entry reads, “He was involved with the attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election.”
There’s an issue: Willis has actively campaigned for Jones’ Democratic competitor, Charlie Bailey, a former Fulton County senior assistant district attorney who lost the race for lieutenant governor in 2018.
Jones is a University of Georgia football alum whose family owns Jones Petroleum, a company that supplies fuel to gas stations across the state. (In fact, it’s not unusual to see big Burt Jones campaign signs out in front of convenience stores.)
When he received a subpoena to testify, “Jones went to court to block Willis from investigating saying it would be unfair if he was compelled to testify since Willis held a fundraiser for his opponent, Charlie Bailey,” as Fox 5 Atlanta reports. “Chief Judge Robert McBurney agreed with Jones.”
Jones declared victory. In a statement, he said, “Today’s ruling is a huge win for our campaign—but more importantly, for due process and the rule of law in Georgia. If Fani Willis and Charlie Bailey spent half as much time addressing real issues as they did grandstanding and using their offices to score political points, Atlanta might not have the record number of homicides that it does under their watch.”
Bailey naturally decided to turn the judge’s ruling into an opportunity for nastiness, firing back with a statement of his own, in which he declared, “Burt is desperately trying to distract from his leading role in the attempted overthrow of the United States Government. Burt has shown a continued disrespect for the rule of law, but as a former prosecutor I believe that Burt is subject to the legal system just like everyone else.”
McBurney did leave the door open for the potential for Jones to have to answer questions from another investigator, but his ruling may well have exposed Willis’ investigation as little more than political grandstanding and witch-hunting.
“The actual law doesn’t really matter so much as investigating Donald Trump, in all honesty,” said Erick Erickson on his show on Tuesday. “You’ve got a lot of Democratic lawyers pulling arguments out of their backside and saying, ‘Ah, yes, Donald Trump should go to jail for doing this.’ I don’t know that he broke the law.”
“The press is so broken and so desperately wants there to be a crime for the DA to prosecute that they are ignoring the basic facts of the case,” Erickson later wrote in an email to his listeners.
That’s the Fani Willis investigation in a nutshell. She wants to nail Donald Trump for something, and she’s trying not to let the politics of this election get in the way of rehashing the last one. And the mainstream media is falling for it, too.