There is no evidence that Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, had “an affair” with a “gang member” she was investigating, as former President Donald Trump claimed in a campaign speech.
Trump made the unsubstantiated claim about Willis during an Aug. 8 stop in New Hampshire, where he spoke about veterans issues and other topics, including the fact that Willis may soon file an indictment against him. Her DA’s office is investigating whether Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election outcome in Georgia amounted to a crime.
“They say there’s a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta. She’s a racist. And they say, I guess they say that she was after a certain gang and she ended up having an affair with the head of the gang or a gang member,” Trump said in his remarks. “And this is the person that wants to indict me. She’s got a lot of problems.”
To start, there is no evidence that Willis is a racist, and Trump’s campaign did not provide any when we asked. Trump has a history of labeling Black prosecutors who investigate him racists, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James. He also has called women of color in Congress racists.
Moreover, the Trump campaign did not provide any support for Trump’s claim that Willis had an affair with someone in a gang — and we did not find evidence for that claim in our own search. He has a pattern of saying “they say,” or he has “heard,” when making claims that cannot be backed up with facts.
Although Trump’s source for the claim is unclear, his campaign did make a similar assertion about Willis in an ad that Trump posted to his Truth Social account on Aug. 4. In the ad, called “The Fraud Squad,” a narrator says the district attorney is “so corrupt” she “got caught hiding a relationship with a gang member she was prosecuting.” Text shown on screen then says, “Willis was a Lawyer FOR A YSL CO-FOUNDER,” which is attributed to a Jan. 25 Rolling Stone article with that sentence as part of its headline.
But the magazine never suggested a romantic relationship between Willis and members of an Atlanta-based rap group she is prosecuting for suspected gang activity.
The article is about Willis’ ongoing prosecution of the rapper Young Thug — whose real name is Jeffery Williams — and other individuals in a RICO case that argues the YSL record label that he co-founded is also a criminal street gang. The story also features quotes from Fremondo Crenshaw, better known as YSL Mondo, another co-founder of the group, who was not among those charged in last year’s 88-page grand jury indictment.
As we said, however, Rolling Stone did not report that Willis had a relationship with Young Thug or anyone she is prosecuting for gang-related crimes. The article only mentions Willis’ prior attorney-client relationship with YSL Mondo, whom she represented in an aggravated assault case in 2019, when she had her own private law practice.
Mondo told the magazine that he was “puzzled” by the prosecution of other YSL members and that Willis seemed to be different from the person he had family-style conversations with when she was his lawyer.
“This is not her character, this is not who she is,” he was quoted saying of Willis. “I done had auntie-to-nephew, mother-to-son type of talks with her. I know this not her character. This is what made me start looking at [the YSL case] like I know it’s bigger than just her. It’s politics behind this shit. It’s other people that’s behind her pulling strings.”
For its story, Rolling Stone also contacted Willis, who confirmed that she represented Mondo and said that she “liked” him as a client and hoped he was “well.” There is no indication she was “hiding” this information, as the ad claims.
“When I represented [him], he received 110% effort from me,” Willis said. “I advocated for him with zeal. I tend to meet my clients where they are. I hope you understand what that means. I want to see him do amazing things with his life, and I hope that’s where he’s headed.”
In an Aug. 9 email obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Willis told her staff in the DA’s office that the ad includes “derogatory and false information” about her. She urged her team not to comment on the ad, which is now airing in several TV markets.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.