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Trump and co-defendants re-up their efforts to disqualify DA Fani Willis

Former President Donald Trump and seven of his co-defendants in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case are seeking an immediate appeal of last week’s ruling that allowed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the sprawling racketeering case.

To appeal the matter immediately – before trial – defendants must obtain Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s permission. If he approves the request, the Georgia Court of Appeals would decide whether to take up the matter.

“Whether District Attorney Willis and her Office are permitted to continue representing the State of Georgia in prosecuting the Defendants in this action is of the utmost importance to this case, and ensuring the appellate courts have the opportunity to weigh in on these matters pre-trial is paramount,” Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney in the case, wrote in a Monday court filing.

Sadow noted that McAfee’s ruling on Friday “found that Willis’ actions created an appearance of impropriety and an ‘odor of mendacity’ that lingers in this case, but it nonetheless refused to dismiss the case or disqualify her.”

McAfee ruled that Willis can continue to prosecute Trump and his co-defendants but forced the resignation of her top prosecutor on the case, Nathan Wade. McAfee concluded that if Willis stayed, Wade had to step down in order to dispel the “cloud of impropriety” created by their romantic relationship.

Wade, who has testified that his romantic relationship with Willis is over, resigned after the ruling was issued on Friday.

Willis and Wade’s relationship was thrust into the spotlight in January when co-defendant Mike Roman filed a motion to disqualify Willis over allegations of an “improper” relationship with Wade, whom she hired in 2021. Trump and his co-defendants wanted the judge to disqualify Willis’ team from the case – or throw out the charges – because of a possible conflict of interest.

If the case were to be taken away from Willis’ office, it would be transferred to Georgia’s Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council for reassignment – a move that could fatally derail the complicated racketeering case depending on who took over.

Trump and 14 of his allies have pleaded not guilty to all the charges in the case. Four defendants have already accepted plea deals in the case in exchange for their testimony.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect which court could potentially consider Trump’s appeal request. It has also been updated with additional context.

CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.

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