Updated Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. PT.
“I’ve had to double my security. We’ve gotten a lot of comments. And they’re always racist. I don’t think it’s an insult to remind me I’m a Black woman. It’s a waste of their time.”
The historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump failed to convict, despite it being the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history. But District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County, Ga., is working to hold the former president accountable in her own jurisdiction.
This week, Willis launched a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Trump and his well-documented efforts to overturn Georgia’s vote in the 2020 presidential election. The investigation remains focused most notably on Trump’s Jan. 2 call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he asked him to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss of the state.
Willis put the former president on notice with a strong statement affirming that no one is above the law. “Anyone who violates the law will be prosecuted, no matters what their social status is. No matter what their economics are, no matter what their race or gender is. We are not going to treat anyone differently.”
A Black woman, Willis is leading the charge to hold the former president accountable in a state that ultimately rejected Trump and won Democrats a crucial Senate majority, thanks in large part to the support and mobilization of Black women. The contrast between Willis’s investigation, and the inaction of predominantly white, male Republican senators who refuse to hold Trump accountable for a violent, white supremacist mob that stormed the Capitol and tried to steal the election at his behest, couldn’t be more stark. While several Republican senators have been seen with their feet up on the desks, leaving the room, doodling, and refusing to wear masks or take necessary COVID precautions amid the hearings, Willis is actively working to bring Trump to justice in their stead.
Just weeks after the mob staged an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and killed five, Willis has had to face racist, sexist intimidation by Trump’s supporters in response to her efforts to hold him accountable. In an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show this week, Willis recounted, “I’ve had to double my security. We’ve gotten a lot of comments. And they’re always racist.” But she isn’t backing down, adding: “I don’t think it’s an insult to remind me I’m a Black woman. It’s a waste of their time.”
Fulton County is notably home to Atlanta, which was instrumental to Democratic victories in the state. Trump’s efforts to disenfranchise votes in Georgia with a focus on Fulton County, which has a significant population of Black voters, are inseparable from his campaign and his presidency’s deep reliance on racism and anti-Blackness. By trying to steal the election through invalidating and delegitimizing the votes of disproportionately Black voters, the former president’s failed coup was also an act of racist aggression.
Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.
Willis will investigate Trump for potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, and making false statements to state and local officials. Her investigation will also determine whether Trump is guilty of racketeering, violation of oath of office, and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.
Last month, the Washington Post reported that in a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State and fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, Trump demanded that Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes,” and threatened to punish Raffensperger politically if he failed to comply. For refusing to help Trump steal the election, Raffensperger, his family, and other Republican state officials in Georgia have been subjected to vicious attacks and even death threats by Trump supporters.
As a Black woman, Willis has faced especially alarming threats for her work to investigate Trump. But she remains undeterred in her work to not just hold the former president accountable, but also protect the integrity of future elections in her county, and the voting power of its Black communities.
You may also like:
The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-moving. During this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.