Former Atlanta prosecutor says he expects Trump will be tried in Georgia even if he wins the White House

Former special prosecutor Nathan Wade says he believes Donald Trump will “absolutely” be put on trial in Georgia in the 2020 election subversion case – even if he wins a second term and he’s in the White House at the time.

Wade resigned from the case in March over allegations of an improper romantic relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis but said in an exclusive interview on CNN’s “The Source” that he remains close friends with her.

The question of whether a sitting US president can be forced to stand trial for state-level criminal charges has never been litigated. Wade said in the interview Wednesday that he expects prosecutors and defense attorneys will have to confront that unprecedented scenario if Trump wins the 2024 election.

When asked if Trump can be put on trial in the Peach State during a second term, Wade said: “I do believe that he can.”

“I don’t believe that it … it looks good to the rest of the world. But certainly I don’t think that there’s anything that would prevent that from happening,” Wade said.

He added: “If he wins the election, then certainly there are lawyers out there who will be charged with figuring out that issue, maneuvering around it.”

Wade’s interview comes as the Georgia Court of Appeals has halted the election subversion conspiracy case against Trump and his co-defendants until a panel of judges decides if Willis should be removed from the case. Trump, who has been seeking to push off legal issues until at least 2025, has been arguing that her affair with Wade should also disqualify her.

The court’s recent order pausing the case is the latest indication that a trial will not occur before the November presidential election. The appeals court is expected to rule on the disqualification issue by March 2025, though it could issue a ruling sooner.

Willis in a new filing on Wednesday asked the state appeals court to dismiss the appeal of trial Judge Scott McAfee’s original order due to a “lack of sufficient evidence.”

“With the case now docketed, the State of Georgia, by and through Atlanta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fani T. Willis, moves for the appeal to be dismissed as improvidently granted due to the lack of sufficient evidence, based upon the explicit factual findings of the trial court, to support reversal of the order at issue,” the filing from the district attorney’s office states.

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead defense counsel in Georgia, called Willis’ motion to dismiss the appeal a “last ditch effort.”

On Wednesday, Wade pushed back on criticism that his relationship with Willis was to blame for delaying Trump’s trial.

“I don’t believe my actions played a role at all,” he told CNN. “I believe in the indictment. Certainly I would never have done anything that would have jeopardized that work. I do think the timing of the personal relationship I had was bad.”

“This prosecution has nothing to do with the voters and their opinion as to whether or not this indictment is proper or not proper. It has everything to do with the rule of law,” he added.

Trial court Judge Scott McAfee had previously ruled that Willis could remain on the case if Wade stepped away, prompting his resignation.

The decision from the judge came after he held several days of witness testimony and evidence over claims from defense attorneys that Wade and Willis had engaged in an improper relationship, which they alleged financially benefited the district attorney.

McAfee, in his ruling, noted that “Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices – even repeatedly.”

Yet, the judge wrote in his decision that an “odor of mendacity remains” over the circumstances of their relationship and that either Willis or Wade would have to leave the case.

Wade announced his resignation shortly after the ruling.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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