Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Wednesday flatly denied that she had a relationship with a former client and other rumors spread by former President Donald Trump in a new campaign ad.
In an email to her colleagues, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Willis called the information in a television spot bankrolled by the Trump campaign “derogatory and false.” She urged her staff not to respond to any of the allegations.
“You may not comment in any way on the ad or any of the negativity that may be expressed against me, your colleagues, this office in the coming days, weeks or months,” Willis wrote in the email, sent early Wednesday. “We have no personal feelings against those we investigate or prosecute and we should not express any.”
A Willis spokesman declined to comment.
In the minute-long ad, titled “The Fraud Squad,” the narrator refers to Willis as “Biden’s newest lackey.” It says that Willis presided over a sharp rise of violent crimes in Atlanta and highlights her office being disqualified from investigating Lt. Gov. Burt Jones in her long-running election interference case due to a political conflict of interest.
But the most incendiary allegation is that Willis “got caught hiding a relationship with a gang member she was prosecuting.” It cites as evidence a Jan. 25, 2023, article in Rolling Stone.
But the ad gets several facts wrong.The Rolling Stone article is an interview with YSL Mondo, one of Willis’ former clientsin 2019 when she worked as a defense attorney, and it doesn’t make reference to any sort of affair.
In the interview, Mondo is quoted saying that he had some “auntie-to-nephew, mother-to-son type of talks” with Willis. But the article notes that the two didn’t talk after his case was resolved.
The spot also accuses Willis of presiding over violent crime rates that have “exploded,” andcites Atlanta murder rate numbers that are more than two years old.In fact, homicide numbers in the city are down this year after reaching a 26-year high in 2022. After increasing for three years, violent crime in Atlanta in 2022 returned to near the historic low set in 2018, according to data fromThe Atlanta Regional Commission.
Trump has long accused Willis of being a “racist” on a “witch hunt” against him for his “perfect” Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which he pressured the fellow Republican to “find” him 11,780 votes and told him he could be legally exposed if he didn’t. His amped up rhetoric comes days before Willis is expected to pursue charges against Trump and many of his allies for criminally interfering in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
In recent days, Willis has shared some of the racist, obscene and threatening messages she and her office havereceived since opening her investigation.
“I am sending to you in case you are unclear on what I and my staff have comeaccustomed to over the last 2½ years,” Willis told Fulton County leaders in a recent email. “I guess I am sending this as a reminder that you should stay alert over the month of August and stay safe.”
Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.
Tamar Hallerman is an award-winning senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She covers the Fulton County investigation into whether former President Donald Trump or his allies criminally interfered in Georgia's 2020 elections.