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Defense Attorney Claimed Willis Profited from Appointing Nathan Wade as Special Prosecutor; But says Willis Can Remain on Trump Case if Prosecutor Nathan Wade is Removed; Judge: D.A. Willis may Remain on Trump Case if Wade was Removed; Courts Find No Proof of Financial Gain as Motivation for Bringing the Case. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Breaking news just into CNN, a judge in the State of Georgia has just issued a ruling in Donald Trump's

election subversion case. The prosecutor Fanni Willis can stay on the case. Ryan Young is with us this hour, this is hugely significant. Fanni Willis

will continue to be able to prosecute this case. But there are it seems, conditions Ryan explain.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the conditions the part that we're still trying to read through at this moment, this ruling just came

down it several different pages. We've been able to scramble just to get to the point where we know that she'll be allowed to stay on this case.

And this as far as the prosecution is concerned, this is really important in terms of the timing. We know that this prosecution wanted to be able to

start this trial sometime before the election. If there was a change at the top, we know that that would probably delay things.

There's already a chance that this will not happen before the 2024 election, because in Fulton County, especially for a racketeering case, it

could take months for a jury to be set. So I know that ruling came down in the last five or six minutes or so we're actually pouring through it right


I have a producer sitting behind the camera, who's actually reading some of the pages from the judge. But what we know is two weeks ago, Judge McAfee

said this would be the timing for the decision. And, of course, Fanni Willis has been trying to do whatever she could to make sure she stayed on

next case.

And for people who are out there who may not remember all the particulars here, Donald Trump's attorneys were able to bring to light some of the

information about Fanni Willis and her lead prosecutor Nathan Wade having a relationship, when did this relationship start? And did she have any sort

of benefit from this relationship over the months that this has been going on?

And so Fanni Willis was basically saying this relationship started after she hired Nathan Wade. Nathan Wade was going through a divorce. And inside

that divorce, several parts of this conversation started to come out that they were traveling together.

Fanni Willis said she used her own money to pay back Nathan Wade for some of these trips. But then people started looking at all the extra money

Nathan Wade was making. And he was saying was because of all the long hours for this case of racketeering case of this size, is quite an undertaking.

So you understand what they were sort of trying to say that he was working extra hard, and there was no impropriety there. But I think the judges and

some of the early indications, sees that some of this does not look right. And the fact of the matter is Fanni Willis gets to stay. We're not sure if

Nathan Wade will get to stay on this case, based upon what we're reading so far, in terms of this ruling.

So again, this just coming out in the last three minutes or so, I believe it's over 20 pages. So I haven't had a chance to read it all the way

through and describe what he is basically saying, but we do know that the DA gets to stay in this case. And you got to think the political

ramifications, especially for Fanni Willis, she's running to keep her seat as district attorney. So she gets the stay on this case. And we'll read

through the rest and bring it to you a little later on.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. This is a 23 page ruling as I understand it. And this is what we know at this point. So let's just remind our viewers who may

just be joining us, both in the United States and around the world. For those in the States they may be better versed, perhaps understandably and

what is going on in this state county -- this county district attorney Fanni Willis case here.

So Fulton County District Attorney, Fanni Willis, can stay on and prosecute the Georgia 2020 election interference racketeering case against former

President Donald Trump and 14 of his Co-Defendants. Judge Scott McAfee ruled on Friday.

Let me just bring you back in because I know that the team is still poring through this ruling. But you were doing a very good job for at least our

international viewers and those who are less well versed in this in really providing the sort of context for this. So I know you're still reading

through. But if you can just remind us -- you know the significance and consequence of this.

YOUNG: Yeah.

ANDERSON: Firstly, for Donald Trump and those Co-Defendants, but for the wider story here because this is only one case, of course that Donald Trump


YOUNG: We'll put this together because I don't think anyone ever thought all the events would happen in this case. So we do have that election

situation where you hear Donald Trump on audio basically saying he's looking for 11,000 votes and that was the really that spurred this whole

sort of movement.


And then several months later, you got to think that indictment was taken out. And the former President United States was taken into custody here in

Fulton County. There's that famous mug shot of Donald Trump that was taken at the Fulton County Jail really put the city on standstill, because no one

ever thought there would be a mug shot of the former president.

And from there, he has been able to galvanize people and fundraise off that mug shot that was here, take it in Fulton County. And then as the

proceedings move forward, you started hearing trickling into the fact that Donald Trump's team was starting to find out information. And then all of a

sudden, you have the two top people involved in this case, Nathan Wade and Fanni Willis, who people found out they were romantically dating.

And the reason why people were wondering whether or not that was an impropriety is because there's so much money that's being circulated in

this case, apparently, since 2021. Nathan Wade has been able to be paid more than $650,000. And so people sort of stood back and tried to figure

out whether or not by paying him all that money, whether or not the prosecutor, Fanni Willis was benefiting from all this.

And so that was the question. And that's what was called it. And so we started hearing about the fact that we're traveling together, that she kept

cash, and she was basically giving that cash and Nathan Wade so all these questions started coming up.

Part of the team has been looking through this, you know, 23 page from the judge and on page 15 and 16 I see this, as the case moves forward,

reasonable members of the public can easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit to

district attorney, or even whether romantic relationship has resumed.

So they say this relationship is over. But of course, at this point, why would they tell us if it was still there? That's kind of what the judge is

saying. We're not sure if Nathan Wade will get to stay on the case. But we know Fanni Willis well.

So again, it's -- I think, about 23 pages. Right before we went on air, we got this and then now we're going through it piece by piece to see exactly

what this means. And moving forward, you can understand the entire state is looking at this. But if she was disqualified, this would throw the whole

case, probably into a tizzy in terms of the fact of whether or not it'd be able to move forward.

Now that we know she gets to stay on it, we have to see how all the parts of the judge willing work to whether or not this stays on track. And just

to give our viewers and idea of how long sometimes racketeering cases take in terms of seating a jury.

We just had a racketeering case here in the State of Georgia that took more than six months to seat a jury. If you look at the timing, they wanted to

start this case sometime in August, before the November election. Even right now, with all this speculation, I'm not sure they're going to be able

to keep that trailer to track so you can understand how Fulton County is the center of this conversation right now.

And Fanni Willis was so upset about this. She basically was saying she was being put on trial, and not the people who broke the law, according to her.

So you can understand just the breakdown in terms of all the passion that's involved in this.

Again, we're still reading through this. We have a team of people going page by page. And I'm going to read some more of this at some point so we

can get the breakdown of what the judge says moving forward.

ANDERSON: Well, before you do that, I'm not going to quite let you go because I can give you a little bit on the detail here.

YOUNG: Thank you.

ANDERSON: You knew that was going to happen.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

ANDERSON: The judge has ruled that the Fulton County DA Fanni Willis and can stay and prosecute this case, as long as special prosecutor Nathan Wade

withdraws. So that is a condition that it seems the judge has put on there. So he's sort of granted in part and denied in part, I guess is the way that

this has been described.

So what do you make of that? I mean, a win for Fanni Willis here, as long as Nathan Wade, steps aside, as far as I can understand, and I'm sorry to

put you on this.

YOUNG: No, no --


ANDERSON: -- it's actually came to you as this ruling dropped.

YOUNG: Right. And we want to be absolutely correct in this. I'm glad you were able to read that page. I believe one of our producers was telling me

that as we were going on, but you want to make absolutely sure. What we do know as Nathan Wade has been spending all his time on this.

You got to think so it's about 2021 when he was appointed the idea he has been going through page by page through all the massive documents because

you have so many people involved in this. So he's aware of this case in a way that few people are.

So at one blow for Fanni Willis is that you have this public black eye that's been taken out because now you have an office, that people have

concerns about how it was running? And she's the first time DA. She just won the election to be the DA a few years ago.

So you understand people are going to be questioning how the office runs. Well, who's going to be the next prosecutor who she's going to move forward

in this case is there's someone who's willing to take the step for it. We also learned during this interaction when they were talking about all this

there were several people that she offered this case to and people did not want to do it.


There had been real threats about safety and security and all this. And so you can understand how this is going to move forward and whose new name is

going to be. But we do know Fanni Willis is not talking today. We were told that no matter what the ruling was that she would not be addressing the


ANDERSON: It's good to have you. I am now going to let you take a little bit time to actually read through what you haven't been able to digest as

of yet. I know the team's working on it as well. I'll have you back.

As you've got more let's discuss this ruling with Areva Martin, an Attorney and Legal Affairs Commentator. So it seems the special prosecutor then able

to -- sorry Fulton County District Attorney able to stay on what is an extremely important significant, possibly consequential case for Donald

Trump. But Nathan Wade must stand aside. Do you assume at this point that that is what will happen that she will stay on this case?

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY & LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Absolutely, she's been very clear that she didn't see any reason that she should be disqualified

or not have an opportunity to continue in the case. So I can't imagine that she would step aside. I think the option that the judge gave her was for

Nathan Wade, to resign from her team, and then her office would be a call with the prospect.

ANDERSON: What do you make of this ruling?

MARTIN: I'm disappointed by quite frankly, because the defense team Donald Trump's defense team and all those lawyers, they didn't make their case.

They did not establish that there was any financial benefit that Fanni Willis received as a result of her personal relationship with Nathan Wade.

And I thought the judge would make a finding similar to that and would determine that Fanni Willis and her entire team could remain on the case.

In many ways this became a huge distraction, placing the spotlight on Fanni Willis when the spotlight should be Donald Trump and the defendants in this


ANDERSON: The judge has said and I quote here, this finding is by no means an indication that the court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment.

Trump and his Co-Defendants will jump on that, won't they?

MARTIN: They will. They will take every word that this judge wrote in the filings (ph) in his order to try to continue to smear the reputation of

Fanni Willis to try to undermine her. We know they called her incompetent. They called her dishonest. They've made disparaging remarks about her

character abilities as an attorney, and I suspect that will continue.

But the judge was very clear that there were no -- there was no evidence presented that would suggest that there was a legally sufficient grounds on

which to disqualify Fanni Willis and I think that is a substantial part of this decision by this judge, that should be highlighted.

ANDERSON: So what happens next?

MARTIN: Obviously, Fanni Willis and her team will have to make some hard choices. We know that there was a former judge of our lawyer, I should say

that testify that said he wasn't interested in being a special counsel. In this case, we know that Fanni Willis has had a difficult time finding

individuals that are willing to subject themselves to the kind of hate that you receive when you prosecute Donald Trump.

But presumably, she will find someone in Fulton County that she can bring on board because Nathan Wade was a critical part of her team. He did a

substantial amount of work on this case, and I suspect that she'll need someone to replace him if indeed, he does resign or she asked him to resign

consistent with the judge's decision. But the case will move forward. Hopefully it'll get back on track and the judge will set some dates and the

prosecution of Donald Trump and Co-Defendants will continue.

ANDERSON: Let me just read part of what the judge ruled here. I found this interesting he found, quote, a -- dismissal of the indictment is not the

appropriate remedy to adequately dissipate the financial cloud of impropriety and potential untruthfulness found here nor is disqualification

of a constitutional officer necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available that option of course being Nathan Wade now

step aside.

Again you know better than I do how that judge might have come to that decision and what he would have gone through there.


You're saying you're disappointed with this ruling, but there is some effort to justify why it is that he is ruled this way, in those words,


MARTIN: Well, absolutely. He does justify his ruling. But when you look at the evidence that was presented, the defendants burden of proof, they had

to prove that there was a some kind of financial incentive that Fanni Willis received as a result of selecting Nathan Wade to be on this case.

And quite frankly, they failed to meet that burden. They did not establish that. They in fact, had no evidence to suggest that she did that. They had

evidence that they took trips together that charges were made to Nathan Wade's credit card statement, but Fanni Willis testified that she repaid


And they were not able to discredit her on the fact that she paid for all of the trips and all of the -- you know engagements that they had together.

So there wasn't evidence. So I think what the judge was moved by in this case, and he makes reference to there being the appearance of impropriety.

And yes, of course, you have the former law partner to Nathan Wade giving very inconsistent testimony to what he had said in text messages to Trump's

attorney. And you had a disgruntled employee who contradicted the testimony of Wade and Fanni Willis.

So arguably, you can make the claim an appearance, but that's not what the Georgia law requires, which is why this judge has not disqualified Fanni

Willis. But you have to imagine the tremendous pressure that the judge was under this.

He just kind of split the baby. He did something that he thought would appease both sides. He left Fanni Willis on the case, but he disqualified

Nathan Wade or basically said Nathan Wade, had to resign. I wish the judge had had more courage. And I wish the judge had helped these defendants to

the fact that they did not prove their case.

ANDERSON: Areva your insight and analysis is so important. Stay with us. I want to bring in Amy Lee Copeland at this point is well, a Criminal Defense

Attorney. You will have been listening to our conversation, you will have had a few minutes to get through what 23 page ruling, what do you make of


AMY LEE COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I understand my prior colleagues' comments on it. I look at it as the best bad decision for the

district attorney's office when the hearing was in process. There was a Monday hearing before the first Friday evidentiary hearing. Clearly the

judge was troubled by something in the sense that he was going to hear some evidence.

So this decision, I totally agree. It is an actual conflict of interest standard. The judge found she couldn't meet that. He did impose this

appearance of impropriety standard. As I said best bad decision and that the DA's office can cure any concerns the judge has if Mr. Wade resigns,

that will be a blow to the team.

Fortunately, the DA's Office has a deep bench. There are 10 or 11 people who sign off on pleadings in this case. So oh, yeah hopefully they can get

somebody in and make him or her the Chief Operating Officer, which I think is what Mr. Wade did.

ANDERSON: If you were Trump's defense attorney, how would you use this ruling in his favor?

COPELAND: I would use the ruling in favor, both in a procedural in a substantive way. As far as procedure, the judge expressed some concern

about what the appropriate standard was, at least in the earlier hearing. He tried to remedy the appearance of impropriety by suggesting that either

Wade resign or Willis' office resign.

Georgia has a procedure for an intermediate appeal. That would gum up the works if the judge would sign off on an intermediate appeal, if the Court

of Appeals would take it. The only time limit on that would be a decision prior to December 31st, which would put them after the November for 5th

presidential election.

So I would try to gum it up procedurally. Substantively, you know, Mr. Trump likes to make his own spin on things. And I don't think he is exactly

known for his silence about other people's foibles. So I anticipate that he will personally have things to say, and his attorney might try to use this

especially in jury selection, if it gets to that point in this case.

ANDERSON: On the question of money and Areva and I were discussing this earlier on, which of course, it's sort of the heart of all of this. The

judge says and I quote, again, such a reimbursement practice may be unusual and was not so incredible as to be inherently unbelievable. I wonder Amy

first to you and then I'll get back to you Areva and we can continue with this. Is there still a cloud around the finance here? Do you think just by

what you read?


COPELAND: You know, Becky, I've never really understood this much at all, because what we're talking about here is two people who were consenting

adults who engaged in a relationship that ended before the grand jury ever issued an indictment in this case,

You know the money is unusual, but Ms. Willis justified it. Her father said, and decided to a long history of racial discrimination requiring him

to use cash. You know this is how we have always operated. There has always been a cash practice. The money part really didn't bother me. And as I

said, the fact that she was -- you know, in a consenting adult relationship didn't either.

ANDERSON: Areva let me just bring you in here. And before we close this out, for those who may just be joining us. Just set this in context for us,

the significance of this ruling, Fanni Willis, of course, stays in the job as long as Nathan Wade steps aside, the case goes on. How important is


MARTIN: I think it's very important, and Trump will try to spin this as a win for him. But this is a win for the people. Fanni Willis is an

incredibly competent, aggressive prosecutor. I think she is the right woman for the job. This now will allow the case against Trump and the Co-

Defendants to get back on track.

We -- I would not be surprised if Trump and team try to appeal this decision. But ultimately, with Fanni Willis remaining on this case, this

means that Trump and the Co-Defendants will have to face the underlying charges, which is what this case has always been about.

So as much as I don't like the ruling, I am glad to see that Fanni Willis will remain on the case. I think it is the right thing -- with a defense

attorney, there was absolutely no reason for Fanni Willis to be disqualified because of a personal relationship.

Prosecutors are often married, they often have relationships and it doesn't qualify them from proceeding and there was no evidence was presented in

this disqualification hearing that would justify the removal of this very competent district attorney.

ANDERSON: And remind us, Amy, why does Nathan Wade now need to leave this case?

COPELAND: Well, short answer is the judge basically told him to. If he leaves in the district attorney's office can stay on. And as my colleague

just noted, that's the greater good that this case continue and vindicates the right of Georgia voters.

ANDERSON: If you were to stack up those cases against Donald Trump now, and I know that this is been something that -- you know America has been so

focused on now for some time, where you just sort of rate these cases. Where does this Fulton County case lie Amy, starting with you?

COPELAND: Sure. I think the easiest one for the government to prove is going to be the classified documents case. Did he or didn't he return the

classified documents? We've seen photographs of boxes in the ballroom in the bathroom of Mar-a-Lago that seems to be a pretty easy evidentiary


This one, though, I think is a close second to that. The evidence is strong. There are recordings there are Republican officials who are

testifying against him at the trial, the Georgia's Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, both of whom are Republicans.

This is an important case, and it has important follow on effects in the sense that if he were convicted of federal crimes, and if he were

reelected, he could pardon himself. He couldn't pardon himself of any Georgia convictions. And Georgia couldn't even pardon him until after he

served his sentence.

ANDERSON: Amy sorry. Areva I want to go back to Nathan Wade here because I was just having another look at what this ruling actually says. Here's what

the judge said about Nathan Wade put differently.

An outsider could reasonably think that the district attorney is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any

compromising influences as long as Wade remains on this case this unnecessary perception will persist the judge saying that Fanni Willis's

judgment could be influenced that must be a problem for her as this case continues. Is it not?


MARTIN: Well, we know -- what we know about Fanni Willis? How we interacted with her our encounter with her watching her testify at that

disqualification hearing, to me in many ways undermines that statement from the judge. There is not a chance I think, at all, that Fanni Willis will be

unduly prejudiced or influenced by anyone and particularly not Nathan Wade.

I think her handling of this case her job as a prosecutor. She's very clear eyed about that. She's clear eyed about -- clear eyed about her

responsibilities. And who her -- you know obligations her fiduciary duties are as a district attorney. So I disagree with the judge. I don't think she

would be unduly influenced by Nathan Wade.

Clearly, Donald Trump, in all of his efforts to delay, the various trials that are pending against him is always going to engage in smear tactics.

He's always going to attack the credibility. He's going to attack the character of the prosecutors. We've seen him do it with respect to Letitia

James in New York.

And this is a case that is no different. It doesn't matter what these people did or how they conducted themselves. Trump's playbook is to attack,

attack and attack, and he's going to do so in this case. So I think, again, the judge, decision partially right. But more importantly, Fanni Willis

gets to stay on the case. And hopefully the case proceeds, because the bigger issue here is the conduct of Donald Trump and the code of things.

ANDERSON: And Amy, Areva making a really good point here. And I wonder what your sense is, how do prosecutors deal with this onslaught of allegation

against them by Donald Trump's team?

COPELAND: Yeah, Becky. I am not sure because it is really unprecedented in my opinion. It just is a never ending attack. You know I do want to focus

on something that I personally find really interesting about this case. And this judge, you know, he's a 34 year old judge. He got this randomly by the


He's been on the bench for eight months. He used to work for Fanni Willis. He was in the Major Crimes Division of Fulton County. I think she was

several supervisory levels above him. And then he was also an Assistant United States Attorney, a federal prosecutor in the Atlanta Office of the

United States Attorney's.

He was there when the former president called on his boss, the U.S. Attorney, to institute the federal investigation into voting fraud in

Georgia and his boss resigned. I think this is an interesting decision from a guy who has had some kind of personal influence of exactly what's going

on here are some personal contacts with it. It doesn't make impartial but it certainly has to lead to his understanding.

ANDERSON: Areva, the judge has mentioned the district attorney's prepared speech delivered before a local Atlanta Church back on January the 14th

2024. Do you know why we -- why we would come -- that event come into question here?

MARTIN: Well, the defense attorneys raised the comments. They raised to the court comments that Fanni Willis made in that speech. And they said that

she was commenting inappropriately on a case that was pending that she was actually prosecuting that was pending before the court, and that those

statements were inappropriate.

And she made comments relevant to her race and saying that some of the attacks against her in her opinion were racist. And the defendants, the

defense counsel, I should say, have pushed back on those comments. They want her to be disciplined for making those comments. They wanted the judge

to take those comments into consideration as they -- as he considered this disqualification motion.

But again, if you listen to the attacks that have been made against her, you cannot, I think conclude anything other than that they have been both

racist and sexist. And again, a playbook that Donald Trump and his team use a frequently is to make racist comments sometimes coded, sometimes not.

And then to accuse the person that calls them out because of their comments to then call them racist. So again, this is more of Donald Trump's team

trying to find anything that they can to distract to deflect and to delay the proceedings against him.

ANDERSON: So if you were on Fanni Willis's team today, you've described this as at least a winning that she's still on, you're disappointed with

the way that the judge has ruled on this, but this is a win. She's still on the case. If you were on her team what would you expect her direction to be

at this point? What do we know about Fanni Willis and how she was will respond to this ruling and how she will get on with the job at hand?


MARTIN: Well, I think her decision not to give a press conference today not to appear before the cameras is an excellent decision. I think it shows

good judgment on her part. I think she goes back and she assembles her team. She does ask Nathan Wade to resign because she doesn't need any more

distractions with respect to getting this case back on track.

She determines if she has enough manpower in her office to proceed or if she needs to bring on another special counsel. And if she does, she starts

the process of trying to identify who that person is. But lawyers, we are quite adept at making adjustments.

We get rulings all the time from courts, sometimes they cause us to have to regroup or re-strategize, we get back on track. And I suspect come Monday

morning, her team will be back at it working as diligently and you know there'll be back to the way they've been prosecuting this case, which is

very aggressively and very competently.

ANDERSON: Standby both. It's good to have you incredibly important as we dig deeper on what we have been reporting today Ryan, young, with more

information on the ruling Ryan?

YOUNG: Well, I think there were some interesting points that you guys were bringing up there. I mean, there was a conversation a little bit about

race, and you got to think about Fulton County, and how it stands in terms of the metro area. Metro Atlanta is obviously very diverse.

But there is a definitely a core especially Fulton County normally votes democratic. And so you can understand when Fanni Willis went to that

church, and she was speaking to that congregation and saying that she felt basically like they were being looked at and targeted because of race that

was going to stand out.

Now we started talking about this cash and whether or not these vacations were extravagant. You know, people were looking into that. We were just

looking through some of this ruling here. And it talks about between May -- between October of 2022 and May of 2023, they went on several different


There was a trip to Miami in Aruba. And so you can see the trips totaling about $5,000, it was trips for $3,000 that sort of stood out. So at the

same time, you can see, were Fanni Willis was basically in court. And she said she'd never wanted to depend on a man. And so that's why she was

paying Mr. Wade back.

And that was a part of their contention, the fact that he wanted to try to take care of her. But that's not the kind of relationship that she was

looking for. And in fact, and coordinate something that stood out to me. She said no man has ever taken care of me, from the top to the bottom and

besides my father.

So that's part of the reason why she felt that this was the motivation for her to carry this cash to pay part of her way to have this be an equal

footing relationship. So you can see this sort of playing out in all of this. Now, there's been a lot of conversation in this community about how

this moves for because obviously, people are very concerned that race was playing a role in this.

Fulton County has a very black population as well. And there are people who voted for Fanni Willis to be in that seat who thought that she was being

taken to task unfairly. The fact that this relationship was being brought up was something that was really disturbing to a lot of people in the legal

community around the Fulton County area.

But when you go through this judge's decision here, all 23 pages, you can understand that he's basically saying when you sign up to be a prosecutor

that you have to understand that your life can be looked at very differently. So as you read through this, he believes that the public could

obviously assume that something might not be right there.

And that's why Nathan Wade may have to step down. I wonder, do we have that sound yet from when we when she -- Fanni Willis was in court. And she was

talking about being put on trial? Do we have that? I just want to ask the control room before I move forward with that. Do we have it?

I'm not sure if we have that sound just yet. But basically, Fanni Willis has said several times, especially while she was in court, she said she was

should not be the one on trial. But Donald Trump should be the one on trial. When you play this all out Fulton County has really stood up from

the sheriff all the way to Fanni Willis trying to take this head on like I talked about before.

The fact that it was a mug shot involved in this case. There was an indictment given. And since then, we know this racketeering case had

several different people involved in earlier this week, the judge already took down some of the accounts that these folks were going to face.

So now this is really turning on this part and whether or not Nathan Wade's going to have stepped out. He talked about the fact that I brought it up

earlier, there would be no news conference, moving forward with Fanni Willis's team. So we're all sort of waiting to see what the fallout is

across the spectrum when it comes to this ruling.

I will tell you, as someone who's right to court. We've seen several different leaders from all around Metro Atlanta, sitting in the court

trying to pay attention to this. You're talking about the former Governor Roy Barnes who was actually offered this prosecution at some point he

turned it down.

And he said he didn't want to have the private guards again. He didn't want to have the death threats again. So whoever stands up into Nathan Wade seat

has understand not only is he going to come into or he or she is going to come into a role they're going to be put under a microscope.


They're going to have to have 24 hour security. That was part of the reason why love folks felt like there would be a delay in this because they had to

watch to see what would happen next. The death threats for Fanni Willis have been some of the most understandably hard for her family. She's had to

move several different times. There's more at play here than just what we've seen play out in court.

ANDERSON: Yeah. Let me just read you what we are getting from Steve Sadow who is the Trump Attorney responding to the Fanni Willis decision, quote,

while respecting the court's decision, we believe that the court did not afford appropriate significance to the prosecutorial misconduct of Willis

and Wade, including the financial benefits.

Testifying untruthfully, about when their personal relationship began, as well as witnesses, extra judicial MLK, quote, church speech, where she

played the race card, and falsely accused the defendants and their counsel of racism. We will use all legal options available as we continue to fight

to the end -- to end this case, which should never have been brought in the first place. That is Trump Attorney Steve Sadow, responding to the judge's

ruling today, your thoughts?

YOUNG: Well, for the folks who have never been to Atlanta before I've covered some of the court cases here for quite some time. That attorney is

a no nonsense attorney. Donald Trump definitely upgraded when he got Steve Sadow as his attorney. He is somebody who goes into court with guns

blazing, so to speak.

And he never leaves anything on the table. So you can understand that they were going to keep moving forward. I think that's the underestimation of

everyone here involved in this case, the fact that they didn't realize that some of this stuff was going to play out in court, when you look at the

fact that they were able to bring in just this whole conversation about this relationship, and the divorce.

And well how that relationship proceeded. You understand that there's a different microscope involved when you're dealing with someone who's a

heavyweight puncher in the Fulton County Courthouse, which is Steve Sadow. He's one of the best attorneys here in Atlanta. And you can know that this

will be more and they'll bring more for it. And at some point, in terms of just whatever they find, because he's always going to give his best punch

for his clients.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating standby. I want to bring in Katelyn Polantz. She is in Fort Pierce in Florida, where she has been following another one of

Trump's criminal cases. You'll have been I hope somewhat read in now, on this case, as you follow others, there was a loose as long as your arm at

this point. What do you make of what we are reporting at this point?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well Becky, this begins and ends well maybe not ends because there are additional things

that the judge wants to happen here that he wants to cure any sort of ethical perception that may be improper here.

He wants someone to step away, either it being Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor or Fanni Willis and her office. They do have options. But the

bottom line here in the courts' finding is that there is not a violation of the defendants' rights here. It is not a due process violation that is

prompting the judge to do anything to forcibly remove anyone from this case.

And he writes specifically, the court finds based largely on the district attorney's testimony that would be Fanni Willis's in court testimony under

oath, that the evidence demonstrated that the financial gain flowing from her relationship with Nathan Wade was not a motivating factor on the part

of her to indict and prosecute this case against Donald Trump and 18 others now, Donald Trump and about 14 or 15 other remaining defendants.

So this case will be continuing on against Trump and the others. And there is going to be a lot of questions still remaining about what Fanni Willis

does now that she has this order. But then when you step back, Becky, there's a bigger question. It is how does the public perceive Fanni Willis

and the work that she has done so far on this case?

And what happens when you get to seating the jury in Fulton County for a trial? Is this something where Donald Trump's team is still able to claim a

win because they have essentially put Fanni Willis in the witness box and had her under questioning and had everyone talking about what her role was,

in this case?

What her personal relationship was with Nathan Wade? And a moment where no one was talking about the facts of the case and the defendants and what is

likely to go on trial so whether that memory will still be factoring into the case when it does go to trial that's going to be a big question going

forward. And how funny Willis in the coming day's response to this order what she does next.


ANDERSON: We were just reading out and sort of doing a deep dive on what Steve Sadow, Trump's attorney had written in response to this. And our

colleague pointing out that Donald Trump's team, certainly on the Fulton County case, and others are very robust. No nonsense. Steve Sadow,

described by one of our colleagues is one of the best in Atlanta, one of the best in the State of Georgia.

And how do you -- as you consider these cases in front of Donald Trump now, Katelyn? What's your sense of the strength of this team? And how different

are they from those that Donald Trump had around him in the past?

POLANTZ: Becky, Donald Trump is in a different position now than he was in the past. Previously, he was under investigation. When he was under

investigation when he was in the White House, he did have lawyers that were assisting either the presidency or the White House or him personally, who

had a lot of experience in that realm.

And the folks he has now a top his defense teams, particularly in Georgia responding to the Fulton County case. And then his top defense attorney in

many of the other criminal cases, but namely, the person who's going to try his case, or be his main defense attorney in the New York Attorney

General's hush money cases, first criminal case likely to go to trial.

Those are courtroom lawyers, with a lot of experience, who know those courts quite well, and the systems and the people, the judges, the jury

pools in those two areas in New York and Georgia very, very well. And so it's not like he has people who are inexperienced, he has savvy, people who

are on his defense team.

He also has, you know, defense attorneys who not only have some political experience, or at least have an understanding of how politics can factor

into a court case. They're now serving Trump and haven't had many shifts in recent months. And so they're learning as they go along.

How this is working? They have to respond to each judge differently. And they have to take the opportunities where they can. Becky, a reminder, any

time where Donald Trump is in court, and has one of these cases in front of him or he's a criminal defendant and they're not talking about him as the

defendant and him seeing these charges when they're talking about Fanni Willis, that is a win on his behalf in just a political sense.

And on top of that, the other thing that is always a win for Trump is any time there is the potential for delay. And here we just spent several weeks

watching this judge work through this motion, rather than moving the case to trial here in Florida. We don't have a trial date for his federal

classified documents case. And then of course, New York we don't know if that's going to get a delay as well.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Katelyn. It's always good to have you. Areva Martin and Amy Lee Copeland, both CNN Legal Analysts are still with us. I also

want to bring in -- just part that idea for the moment. I just want to remind us exactly for our viewers, they can may just be joining us what

we're doing here.

A judge in the Fulton County case has said that special prosecutor Nathan Wade should step aside if District Attorney Fanni Willis is to remain on

the case in order to dispel the cloud of impropriety as he describes it created by their romantic relationships,

So Areva Fanni Wade can stay on the case. We are guessing that she will stay on the case, as long as Nathan Wade steps aside. Just to get your kind

of closing thoughts, if you will, this dropped about 45 minutes ago. We've discussed an awful lot about what this ruling means whether or not we

believe when you believe that this is the right ruling and what happens next? What are your sorts of closing thoughts at this point?

MARTIN: Couple of points one as to the statement from Trump's lawyer, I think it's very revealing. This was never about just disqualifying Fanni

Willis and Nathan wade. This has always been about getting these very legitimate charges dismissed.

They've tried everything possible to have the charges filed by Fanni Willis in Fulton County dismissed and this was yet a another effort to do that.

And Trump's attorney said they're going to stop at nothing to have the matter dismissed even if it means disparaging this district attorney.


So I think we should keep that in mind. This is all about Trump's effort to get a dismissal. As to the comments about how this could influence the jury

pool and the public. I think we need to keep in mind this isn't about the public. This isn't about folks in D.C. or New York, this is about Fulton


That's where those jurors are going to come from that will sit in this case. And these are the same people, many of them who have elected Fanni

Willis, who believe that she's been a targeted by Donald Trump, who believes she's been subjected to sexism, racism, and just about everything

you can imagine.

So I don't think they're going to come into a trial holding this against Fanni Willis. If anything, I think this probably is held against Donald

Trump for the way he has treated her. Last comment about the judges statements about when you run for district attorney or you are the district

attorney, you have to expect that your life is under a microscope.

I agree with that to a point. But no District Attorney, no servant should be subjected to the kinds of death threats and violence threatened against

them that Fanni Willis, Letitia James, the District Attorney in Manhattan and others who have prosecuted Donald Trump that is not how our judicial

system typically works.

Donald Trump and his team have gotten away with things that no one, no other lawyer in this country could ever get away with. He has experienced

every white male privilege that you can imagine. And I'm just glad that Fanni Willis African American strong, competent prosecutor remains on this


ANDERSON: Good to have you Areva. Amy, final thoughts --

COPELAND: You know, Becky, I'm going to just keep it really simple. I am relieved that this case will continue with this district attorney. She is

well prepared the case as well execute -- well investigated. She has faced insurmountable threats. She's faced all sorts of hurdles and she has kept

going forward. I expect nothing less than her to roll up her sleeves and continue the business of the State of Georgia and prosecuting these


ANDERSON: To both of you, thank you very much indeed for joining me over what has been the last 45 minutes the news dropping just at the top of this

hour that Fanni Willis can stay as the special prosecutor in Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia. That is the ruling from a judge just

about 45 minutes ago.

However, if she stays, the special prosecutor Nathan Wade with whom Willis had a personal relationship must go. The judge also said their relationship

was a result of quote, bad choices. Trump's lawyer says they will keep fighting to the end of this case more after this.



ANDERSON: We're following breaking news out of Atlanta, Georgia this hour. It is just before 10:06 in the evening here in Abu Dhabi 10:10 in the

morning, of course on the East Coast of America and a judge ruled a short time ago, District Attorney Fanny Willis, can stay as the prosecutor in

Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia.

But the judge said if she stays the special prosecutor Nathan Wade with whom Willis had a personal relationship must go. Trump's team had been

seeking to have her removed. They say they will keep fighting to end the case. Well, I want to bring in Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for

Politics at the University of Virginia. This must be a result for Donald Trump, politically, Larry, isn't it?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, absolutely. Donald Trump will spin this for forever, as a victory for him and a reflection on the DA and

the whole case in the Atlanta area. And of course, it's broader than that it affects the entire country.

So you better believe it, he's going to use this, they'll probably appeal the judge's decision. This probably puts this case beyond the November

election. Things have been going very well for Donald Trump. He said our judicial system.

ANDERSON: I mean, Donald Trump's team has said that they will keep fighting this case, until they can end this case. That's ultimately what they're

looking to do at this point.

SABATO: Well, they'd love to end it. I don't know that they'll be able to end it by having a judge rule that. But rather, if his whole premise is

that once he's elected president again, he will be able to get rid of all the cases, even this state base case won't be easy, but he could do it.

He can pardon himself from the federal cases, a self-pardon, or he can simply call his new attorney general, whoever it is probably a very pliable

individual in the Justice Department and say, get rid of all this for me. I don't want to hear about it again.

ANDERSON: I mean, his team and his supporters have contended from the outset, that these cases and there are what 91 indictments against him are

just politically motivated. The more often they get a win, however incremental that win is -- you know whether it's just pushing the case

back whether they are getting the entire system caught up in a process of appeals, it further adds weight. Does it not to this contention that the

entire thing is just politically motivated?

SABATO: Yes, it adds to that impression. I want to quickly add, this is certainly not the case that these are real offenses. And this is a test of

our entire legal system. Our justice system is also on trial. And we deliver justice, whether it's guilty or not guilty on some very serious

matters in time for people to have the information before they voted October and November. And the way we're going it doesn't look like

anything's going to be available.

ANDERSON: Let's just have a look at what the judge in Fulton County today has found. He has found that Willis's claims about splitting expenses and

paying in cash and this was about a trip that she made with Nathan Wade, he put it on his credit card, she paid him back. That was her contention.

The judges found that that was all unusual, but not unbelievable. I wonder you have a real sense of the pulse of the American people. The judge says

it's unusual but not unbelievable. Will the American people find those claims believable?

SABATO: Well, I don't know how much of the American people are really watching this in detail. But certainly Trump's troops are they listened to

evaluation given by Trump and his key people and rarely believe anything else they hear.

So I would say that, while it's possible, it is damning in a public relations sense. That's where Trump's victory is today. And probably the

delay in case passed the election. So he's got the victory and the problem here is the DA -- very poor judgment. There's just no other conclusion you

can reach. And this is on her.


ANDERSON: May 13th, the election of course, beginning of November. We now have two contenders, at least in principle two questions to you. Do you

genuinely believe that Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the candidates that Americans vote on in November?

SABATO: Well --

ANDERSON: -- and secondly.


SABATO: I can't predict personal health, but as long as they're both healthy, they will be nominated in the months of July and August, the

Republicans first in July, the Democrats in August, and they will compete from there. Now you'll have independent third party candidates too. And

they may be critical in determining the results.

But I know people around the world and even in this country do not believe that both Biden and Trump will be the nominees, but they have the

delegates, they're going to be the nominees you have to accept that unless and God forbid that they have any personal health issues, but at their

ages, it's certainly possible.

ANDERSON: So what are the polls telling us briefly today about who will win this election? And what is it that ultimately America will be voting on?

SABATO: Well, in terms of the polls, they're highly inaccurate at this point of an election year. They're off on average by about six to seven

points. So I would urge people not to pay too much attention to them. But if you pay attention to them, and they're not predictive, they're not

predictive. They're not predictive.

They have Donald Trump with a small lead a very small lead a couple of points, a little bit larger in some of the key swing states that Biden

would have to carry in order to be reelected. But as I say, these things can change quickly. Lots of events are unfolding, internationally and

domestically. And I wouldn't put 10 cents on what the polls are saying right now. I'll be much more interested in them as we launched the general

election campaign after the two conventions over the summer.

ANDERSON: And what are the three key points that you believe Americans will vote on come November?

SABATO: Well today, we have such a partisan division in the United States that well over 90 percent of the votes are already determined. You will

have Democrats voting for the Democrat and Republicans or the Republican. If you have defections on either side, it will be under 10 percent.

So the vast majority of voters already know for whom they're going to vote the exception being these independent third party candidates. If they get

the attention and they have the financial backing, it's possible, possible that they could some of them one of them could break into low double

digits, I think probably they'll all be in the single digits. But as I suggested, they can determine the actual results of the election in the

Electoral College, which is the only thing that matters in this country as -- as it is.

ANDERSON: So it was a pleasure, sir, thank you very much indeed for joining us. Breaking news this hour a judge ruling the District Attorney Fanni

Willis can stay as the prosecutor in Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia more after this short break.