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DA Fani Willis Can Stay on Trump's Election Interference Case Under One Condition, Georgia Judge Rules

The judge's decision to keep Willis on the case deals a huge blow to Trump, who hoped to evade a damning trial by alleging that the DA was in an improper relationship with one of her prosecutors

<p>Megan Varner for The Washington Post via Getty; James Devaney/GC</p> Fani Willis, Donald Trump

Megan Varner for The Washington Post via Getty; James Devaney/GC

Fani Willis, Donald Trump

District Attorney Fani Willis can remain the lead prosecutor in Donald Trump's Georgia election subversion case, a judge decided on Friday.

In a surprising ruling, Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee determined that Willis can continue overseeing the case, after the trial was jeopardized based on allegations that she and the special prosecutor hired to lead the case engaged in an improper romantic relationship. Both Willis and the prosecutor acknowledged that they had a personal relationship, but denied wrongdoing.

Related: Trump's Georgia Case Assigned to GOP-Appointed Judge Up for Election in 2024: What to Know About Scott McAfee

There is one condition, however: In order to continue prosecuting Trump, she will need to remove her former romantic partner from the case. Her other option is to step aside, which would risk delaying the trial until after the November election.

McAfee's decision is a huge blow to Trump, who hoped to throw a wrench in the state's prosecution plan and potentially evade a judgment altogether.

Related: Donald Trump Indicted for Attempting to Overturn 2020 Election Results in Georgia

Trump was indicted in the Georgia case in August, after a 23-member jury revealed that they were ultimately convinced by Willis' case against the former president and his allies, signing off on her office's proposed criminal charges after reviewing evidence and hearing testimony. The result was a 41-count, 98-page indictment covering 19 defendants.

Trump initially faced 13 felony counts in Georgia: racketeering (violation of the Georgia RICO Act); three counts of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree; two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit filing false documents; filing false documents; and two counts of false statements and writings.

On Wednesday, McAfee dismissed a few counts related to Trump and his allies' interactions with state officials, which brought Trump's total number down to 10.

Related: Donald Trump and His Allies Had Their Mug Shots Taken in Georgia: See All 19 Booking Photos

<p>Fulton County Sheriff's Office</p> Donald Trump's Fulton County mug shot

Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Donald Trump's Fulton County mug shot

Eighteen allies were charged alongside Trump, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; former Trump attorneys Rudy GiulianiSidney PowellJohn EastmanJenna Ellis, Bob Cheeley, Ray Smith III and Kenneth Chesebro; former assistant U.S. attorney general Jeffrey Clark; former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer; and current Georgia state Sen. Shawn Still.

Additional defendants include a GOP strategist, local elections officials, an Atlanta bail bondsman, a publicist, an Illinois pastor and a onetime congressional candidate.

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The Georgia case was Trump's fourth indictment since leaving office. Between the four investigations, he faces 88 criminal counts, several of which come with recommended prison time.

If convicted of violating the Georgia RICO Act — classified a step above felony, as a "serious felony" — Trump would face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

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