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After Hearing in Atlanta, Fani Willis Receives Both Praise and Condemnation

After Hearing in Atlanta, Fani Willis Receives Both Praise and Condemnation

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After a tumultuous hearing, the Fulton County district attorney earned plaudits for the way she stood firm under pressure but drew doubts about her judgment under the glare of the national spotlight.

Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, during the hearing on Thursday. Credit…Pool photo by Alyssa Pointer

By Rick RojasChristian Boone and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Reporting from Atlanta

It has been a rare point of consensus about the case brought by Georgia prosecutors against former President Donald J. Trump: the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, probably made a mistake by having a romantic relationship with a co-worker.

But the agreement ends there.

As people in Atlanta and its suburbs digested gripping and emotional testimony, what they saw wasn’t just the behavior of Ms. Willis, but a test for their views on race, gender, justice and the city they call home.

Ms. Willis’s sharpest critics, backers of the former president, relished what they saw as the error that could pull her off the case — endangering, if not entirely torpedoing, a prosecution that some legal experts regard as one of the strongest ones against Mr. Trump.

The biggest fear of some of her supporters is that those critics are correct.

“I just wish she would’ve made better decisions,” said Andrea Maia, a recent college graduate living in Atlanta, who is otherwise sympathetic to and supportive of Ms. Willis. “I wouldn’t have done it.”

The testimony came as part of a hearing this week to decide whether Ms. Willis’s romantic and financial relationship with Nathan Wade, an outside lawyer she hired to help lead the prosecution, amounted to a conflict of interest and whether she should be removed from the case.

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Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor hired by Ms. Willis, testified at this week’s hearing. Credit…Pool photo by Alyssa Pointer

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