A Georgia judge on Thursday ordered Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to respond to claims she had an improper romantic relationship with a prosecutor, potentially delaying the state’s case against Donald Trump for his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer, filed the motion to disqualify Willis from the case earlier this month, accusing her of acting “to defraud the public of honest services.”
The motion asserts that Willis had a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired to oversee the case against Trump. Wade has been paid more than $650,000 in legal fees since January 2022.
During a speech this week at Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church, Willis defended the hire, calling Wade a “great friend and a great lawyer” who’s been paid the same rate as the other special prosecutors employed to work the case.
“I’m a little confused. I appointed three special counselors,” Willis said Sunday. “It’s my right to do, paid them all the same hourly rate. They only attack one. I hired one white woman, a good personal friend and a great lawyer, a superstar, I tell you. I hired one white man — brilliant — my friend and a great lawyer. And I hired one Black man, another superstar.”
Notably, Roman’s filing provides no hard evidence for the allegation, instead basing the claim on “sources close to both” Wade and the district attorney.
In a separate motion Thursday, Willis accused Wade’s estranged wife, Joycelyn Wade, of “conspiring with interested parties” in the election case “to annoy, embarrass and oppress” Willis.
Nathan Wade and Joycelyn Wade are currently in divorce proceedings after she had a romantic affair with a third individual, the motion further alleges, while accusing her of “obstructing and interfering with an ongoing criminal prosecution.”
Even if there’s no merit to the claims, a delay in the trial against Trump could pay big dividends. Trump would presumably claim immunity if he wins the presidential race in November ― and could postpone a verdict until then.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee asked the state to respond to the claim by Feb. 2, with a hearing set for Feb. 15.
Meanwhile, the trial against Trump and 18 co-defendants ― including Roman ― for their roles in attempting to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election is tentatively set to begin Aug. 5.
JUST IN: Judge McAfee sets an evidentiary hearing on Mike Roman's motion to disqualify Fulton County DA Fani Willis based on alleged "improper" relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade.
Hearing set for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 15.
The state's response is due by Feb. 2. pic.twitter.com/hBvS65LVIc
— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) January 18, 2024