Atlanta — In a Friday court filing, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis acknowledged having a “personal relationship” with a special prosecutor she hired for the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump, but argued there are no grounds to dismiss the case or remove her from prosecution.
In November 2021, Willis hired special prosecutor Nathan Wade to investigate if the Republican ex-president and others breached the law in trying to reverse his 2020 Georgia presidential election defeat. Wade has overseen Willis' prosecution team since Trump and 18 others were charged in August.
On Jan. 2, 2021, Trump called Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to assist “find” 11,780 ballots to overturn his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, according to the indictment. Trump has denied culpability, and his attorneys say he can contest election results.
The filing was the first time Willis or Wade directly addressed the relationship accusations in over four weeks after a defendant in the election lawsuit filed them. Wade stated in his affidavit that he and the district attorney had a personal connection in 2022 in addition to their “professional association and friendship.”
He also claimed he never lived with Willis or shared a bank account or household expenditures. He denied that Willis received any work cash to refute defense lawyer charges of a conflict of interest. Wade said he and Willis were “both financially independent professionals; expenses or personal travel were roughly divided equally
Wade added, “At times, I have made and purchased travel for District Attorney Willis and myself from my personal funds. Previously, District Attorney Willis has paid for our travel.” “I have no financial interest in the 2020 election interference case or in the conviction of any defendant,” he stated.
In response to Ashleigh Merchant's request last month, Willis' team filed Friday. Merchant represents Trump co-defendant Michael Roman. The motion asserted a conflict of interest between Willis and Wade's improper romantic connection. It stated Willis benefitted from the case because she paid Wade over $650,000 for his services and then let him pay for their vacations.
Roman urged the judge to dismiss the matter and prevent Willis and Wade and their offices from prosecuting it. Trump and Georgia attorney Robert Cheeley have joined Roman's request to dismiss the charge and remove Willis. Roman's request is scheduled for Feb. 15 before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the election dispute. Friday's brief indicates the district attorney would ask McAfee to dismiss Merchant's subpoenas for Willis and Wade, among a dozen witnesses at that hearing.
The Friday petition asks McAfee to reject the requests without a hearing because they “have no merit.” Willis is asking the judge “to turn a blind eye to her alleged personal and financial misconduct” and just wants to suspend the Feb. 15 hearing, according to Trump's Georgia senior attorney Steve Sadow. Although she confirmed the connection, Sadow added, “she fails to provide full transparency and necessary financial details.
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