Top Georgia political figures attend Fulton Trump hearing

The pivotal hearing that could shape the future of Fulton County’s case against Donald Trump has drawn prominent political figures like a magnet.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens made a brief appearance this morning. One of his predecessors, Shirley Franklin, was also in the crowded downtown Atlanta courtroom. So is Charlie Bailey, the onetime Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and a close ally of District Attorney Fani Willis.

Dickens said he swung by to show Willis his support and send a message: “Fani Willis is not on trial. We know who is on trial. Donald Trump is on trial for trying to steal an election. Women are under attack across this country, and she does not need to feel alone in the courtroom.”

Not all were there to back Willis. Vernon Jones, a Trump loyalist who waged failed bids for governor and U.S. House, took a seat in the third row. And former Georgia GOP chair David Shafer, who faces racketeering charges, is seated at the defense table.

The highest ranking politician in the courtroom was former Gov. Roy Barnes, the state’s last Democratic governor and a renowned trial attorney. He was called to the witness stand by prosecutors who wanted to prove Willis sought other options before picking special counsel Nathan Wade to handle the case.

He testified Friday that Willis initially asked him to lead the proceedings but that he turned it down for security reasons, mentioning a recent threat by a “militia” member who used antisemitic language.

“I lived with bodyguards for four years, and I didn’t like it,” he said of his term in office, from 1999-2003. “And I wasn’t going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life.”

Also in the crowd: Gerald Griggs, the president of the NAACP, and Bishop Reginald Jackson, who leads more than 500 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia.

And state Sen. Greg Dolezal attended the hearing on Thursday. Dolezal is a Republican who sponsored legislation to create a special Senate committee with subpoena power to investigate Willis.

Deputy managing editor Jennifer Brett contributed to this report.