Molly Butler / Media Matters

Molly Butler / Media Matters

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Following Trump’s lead, right-wing media attack Fulton County DA Fani Willis

Following the fourth indictment of former President Donald Trump, right-wing media figures are attacking Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis’ character and qualifications, accusing her of corruption and misconduct, interfering with the 2024 election, and setting up a supposedly sham indictment as part of her own reelection campaign. The attacks on Willis are similar to right-wing media rhetoric leveled at every prosecutor for the three previous Trump indictments. 

  • After a two-and-a-half-year investigation, Willis indicted Trump and 18 others on racketeering charges

    • On August 14, Willis charged Trump and 18 others under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The nearly-100 page indictment alleges that Trump and allies — including lawyers John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell — participated in a “criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result.” If charged, Trump and allies could face hefty prison sentences. [Reuters, 8/15/23; Insider, 8/14/23]
    • Willis’ investigation began shortly after the leak of Trump’s January 2021 phone call directing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “to find 11,870 votes.” The investigation followed Trump’s Georgia call, his false claims of election fraud, harassment of election workers, attempts to get fake electors to certify his victory, and unauthorized access to Georgia’s election equipment. [The Associated Press, 1/3/21, 7/31/23]
    • Willis is the first woman elected as district attorney of Fulton County and is known for using Georgia’s RICO Act to prosecute large criminal cases. According to The Washington Post, colleagues know Willis as a “prosecutor who is unafraid to investigate sensitive or seemingly untouchable targets.” [NPR, 8/15/23; The Washington Post, 8/15/23
    • Trump took to social media after the indictment and smeared Willis as a racist, “corrupt,” and “rabid partisan” prosecutor. A Trump PAC ad called Willis “Biden's newest lackey,” while a Truth Social post from Trump called her a “very corrupt District attorney.” In a statement shared on Truth Social, he called Willis “a rabid partisan who is campaigning and fundraising on a platform of prosecuting President Trump through these bogus indictments.” These attacks follow a well-established pattern of the former president lashing out at the prosecutors and judges who are involved with the cases against him. [The New York Times, 8/14/23; USA Today, 8/16/23; Newsweek, 8/14/23]
  • Following Trump’s lead, right-wing media resorted to personal attacks on Willis, calling her a “thug” and “nutcase”

    • Radio host Mark Levin declared that “Fani Willis hates this country,” in a rant about the attorneys prosecuting Trump. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 8/15/23]
    • Conservative commentator and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called Willis a “thug” who is indicting Trump for “watching cable television.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 8/16/23]
    • Defendant Rudy Giuliani: Willis “seems like a pretty incompetent, sloppy prosecutor.” He added, “if she worked for me, I would have fired her.” Giuliani, who was also charged in the Georgia indictment, stressed that “what she did yesterday with that indictment is inexcusable.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling the Balance, 8/15/23]
    • Newsmax host Chris Plante called Willis a “nutcase.” Plante also downplayed the charges, claiming Trump and the others were “facing prison time” simply for “asking for a phone number” and “watching a live public hearing on Newsmax.” [Newsmax, The Right Squad, 8/15/23] 
    • Pro-Trump “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec posted a fatphobic and sexist smear about Willis. Posobiec tweeted Gov. Brian Kemp a photoshopped picture of Willis on Lizzo’s nude album cover with the phrase “OnlyFanis,” a reference to the sex work website OnlyFans. [Twitter/X, 8/15/23
    • Newsmax guest Dick Morris accused Willis of charging Trump to appease the Black community. “She's African American and she's basically doing what the community wants her to do,” Morris said. “This is not something that's based on law or on facts.” [Newsmax, The Right Squad, 8/14/23
    • OAN host Chanel Rion called Willis the “Cheap Backroom Plea Bargain Harlot of Fulton County.” Rion also claimed, “‘Probable cause’ and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ are standards LIGHTYEARS beyond Fani’s reach or understanding.” [Twitter/X, 8/15/23]
    • Right-wing pundit and serial plagiarist Benny Johnson called Willis “a deeply, deeply corrupt individual” in a “ratchet county” and an “emissary of the globalists, someone … here to destroy, and sanction, and bring in the end of America.” Johnson continued, “You are a despicable creature.” [The Benny Show, 8/15/23]
  • Right-wing media baselessly accused Willis of corruption and prosecutorial “misconduct”

    • On former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast, the Article III Project’s Mike Davis dubbed Willis “the Michael Avenatti of this all,” comparing her to an anti-Trump lawyer who was later convicted of tax and wire fraud. Davis continued to downplay the charges, claiming Willis now “brings the biggest buffoonery of them all with this indictment of President Trump, 18 of his lawyers and advisers, 41 felonies in Georgia for the non-crime of objecting to a presidential election and twisting arms politically.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 8/15/23
    • Kirk called for Willis’ removal through “a newly-created law enabling a panel to remove DAs who are derelict or unethical in their duties.” Kirk continued, “This panel came into existence in July. It starts accepting complaints on October 1. If the very first complaint isn't a damning case against Fani Willis and her illegal, anti-constitutional stunt, then Republicans deserve their subsequent fate.” A day before, extremist Laura Loomer tagged Governor Brian Kemp in a tweet demanding he remove Willis. [Twitter/X, 8/15/23; 8/14/23
    • The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft encouraged Kemp to remove Willis for “misconduct” or “actions bringing the office into disrepute.” Hoft cited “suspicious premature posting of charges against President Donald Trump before the grand jury’s proceedings.” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/15/23
  • Conservative pundits claimed Willis was only charging Trump in order to throw the 2024 election to Biden

    • On Fox, the Article III Project’s Davis called the indictment “obvious election interference by Democrat prosecutors to take out President Trump before the 2024 presidential election.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 8/14/23]
    • Fox host Brian Kilmeade claimed Willis was interfering in the election by making Trump appear in court. According to Kilmeade, Trump “has at least four weeks of cases where he’s got to sit in the courtroom and he can't campaign. Is that fair? That, to me, seems like election interference.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/15/23
    • Election conspiracy theorist Joe diGenova told Newsmax that Willis and other Trump prosecutors decided to “gather together like a bunch of witches” to “cripple him in the presidential process.” diGenova added, “This is 250 years of jurisprudence being destroyed by a cult called the Democratic Party.” [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 8/15/23
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham said “political prosecutors” like Willis opened up a “Pandora’s box of horrors” by “criminalizing … aggressive lawyering” to “take Donald Trump out of political contention in an attempt to throw the 2024 election to Biden.” Ingraham dismissed Willis as a “liberal” DA and accused her of “unconscionably dragging out her investigation of Donald Trump for about two and a half years” for “maximum PR effect.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/15/23]
  • Right-wing media accused Willis of only going after Trump for political reasons, including her own reelection

    • On Infowars, Trump confidant Roger Stone called the indictment “the centerpiece of Fani Willis' campaign for being reelected.” He continued, “She is actually out through emails raising money for reelection based on her vow to get Donald Trump and now against these charges.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 8/15/23]
    • Former Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told Fox, “We need to remember that Fani Williams is an elected official, a Democrat, she campaigned on a platform of doing exactly what she’s doing now, and she’s politically ambitious.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/15/23]
    • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell claimed Willis’ indictment of Trump is “purely political.” Terrell added, “She is an elected DA prosecutor, but she has been campaigning on this.” He then accused Democrats of “using the legal system for political gains” by “attacking a opposing candidate through the legal system.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/15/23
    • Former Fox host and Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle said Willis “is really using this for her own political purposes and advancements and fundraising off this.” [Newsmax, Newsline, 8/15/23]
    • Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak wrote that “DA Fani Willis is fundraising off the prosecution and running for reelection next year.” Pollak continued, “Like Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who ran explicitly on a promise to find a way to prosecute Trump, Willis’s own political and fundraising interests are hard to separate from her handling of the case.“ He also called the indictment, which took more than two years to investigate, “rushed” and said announcing the charges “shortly before midnight” just “reinforced the sense that this is a fundamentally political prosecution.” [Breitbart, 8/15/23
    • Fox News contributor Charles Hurt stated, “The reason she announced it now is because just this month she announced her reelection bid. This is all politics.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/15/23]
    • Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump claimed Willis “made sure, by the way, that just several days before the indictment came down, she had her fundraising site set up, ready to receive donations.” Trump stressed, “She ran just like Alvin Bragg and just like Letitia James did to get Donald Trump.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/15/23
    • One America News host Dan Ball said Willis “launched her reelection fundraising site just a couple of days before she dropped the indictment. … Because she plans to spend years getting reelected by campaigning on the fact, ‘See? I got Trump.’” Ball ranted, “The lady with her blindfold and the scales of justice, she's taken the blindfold off, thrown the scale in the ocean.” [OAN, Real America, 8/16/23
    • Former federal prosecutor Brett Tolman told Fox Willis is using the RICO statute “for political reasons.” Tolman called it “the bastardization of a statute that we put into place to try to root out very complex, corrupt organizations.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/15/23]