A Georgia judge on Monday blocked Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from investigating Burt Jones, a Republican state senator, as part of the investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state.
Jones is one of 16 fake Trump electors who signed on to the “unofficial electorate certificate” in a plan to subvert the Electoral College in the 2020 election.
Jones is currently running for lieutenant governor in Georgia against Democrat Charlie Bailey. Willis hosted a campaign fundraiser for Bailey last month and donated to his primary campaign earlier this year.
In his ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said Willis’ office may “ask witnesses about the Senator’s role in the various efforts the State Republican party undertook to call into question the legitimacy of the results of the election. What her office may not do is make sure of any such evidence to develop a case against the Senator.”
Last week, McBurney criticized Willis during a hearing for hosting the fundraiser for the Democratic candidate. “It’s a ‘What are you thinking’ moment,” the said at the time. “The optics are horrific.”
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia can select a replacement district attorney’s office that can question Jones, according to Georgia law.
Peter Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said in a statement that as of Monday, “no decision has been made as to whether or not an appointment will be made. Staff and I are reviewing the Court’s decision and researching case law.”
Willis’ spokesperson, Jeff DiSantis, told CNN that they “are reviewing the order and considering the course of action.”
Jones’ spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jones, in a tweet, called the ruling a “HUGE win for our campaign – but more importantly, for due process and the rule of law in Georgia.” His attorneys had argued that Willis’ political actions should disqualify her and suggested asking Georgia’s attorney general to appoint a new district attorney to oversee the case.
Counsel for Willis had said in court filings that her political support for Bailey’s campaign provides no basis for disqualification nor amounts to a conflict of interest in overseeing the grand jury. Last week, Willis’ attorney stressed that the district attorney’s political actions were well within the law.
McBurney also said last week he would not quash any subpoenas for 11 of the “fake electors” who are part of the criminal investigation and would let the parties work out a framework with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office regarding their appearance before the grand jury and potentially invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. CNN previously reported that court documents filed last week revealed that Willis had informed all 16 fake Trump electors may be indicted in her probe.
Willis, a Democrat, also subpoenaed a slew of Trump allies earlier this month and Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia the month before.
In a separate ruling Monday, a federal judge said she will deny Hice’s request to quash his subpoena to appear in front of the special grand jury.
US District Judge Leigh Martin May, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, told attorneys at a hearing that she will remand the case back to the Superior Court of Fulton County for Hice to raise any objections to specific questions posed by the special purpose grand jury.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated steps the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia has taken following the ruling. It is reviewing the court’s decision.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.