Judge in Trump Georgia case sets hearing on misconduct claims against Fani Willis

(Miguel Martinez/Associated Press)

Judge in Trump Georgia case sets hearing on misconduct claims against Fani Willis


January 18, 2024

The judge leading the Georgia prosecution of former President Donald Trump and others over efforts to overturn the 2020 election has set a hearing on a motion alleging that Fulton County Dist.




j. Fani Willis has been dating a special prosecutor she hired for the case.

In an order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set a hearing for Feb. 15 and ordered prosecutors to file their response by Feb. 2. The allegations have been seized upon by Trump and other critics of the prosecution, who have argued that the case is tainted and should be thrown out.

Attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents former Trump campaign aide and former White House aide Michael Roman, made the allegations in a motion last week. She alleged that Willis was involved in a romantic relationship with attorney Nathan Wade, which created a conflict of interest and resulted in Willis personally benefiting from the prosecution. The motion seeks to dismiss the charges and remove Willis and Wade from the case.

Willis defended her hiring of Wade and his qualifications during a speech at an Atlanta church on Sunday, but has not publicly responded to the accusation of a romantic relationship. She cited, among other things, Wade’s 10 years of experience as a municipal court judge and 20 years in private practice.

Willis’ office has said they will respond to Merchant’s motion in a lawsuit, but did not provide a timeline for that.

Merchant has provided no hard evidence to support the alleged inappropriate relationship. She cited information obtained outside of court records and sources close to Willis and Wade.

Merchant’s motion also notes that the files in Wade’s pending divorce have been sealed, but she has filed a motion to unseal them. A coalition of news organizations, including the Associated Press, filed a motion Tuesday seeking access to those files.

Merchant wrote that Wade received large sums of money and used some of his earnings to take Willis on vacation to Napa Valley, Florida and the Caribbean. She said this amounts to the couple benefiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of taxpayers.

Merchant said she can find no evidence that Wade, whose law website lists his experience in civil litigation, including car accident and family law cases, has ever prosecuted a felony case. She questioned his qualifications to handle this case.

Trump and Roman were indicted along with 17 others by a Fulton County grand jury in August. They are accused of participating in a vast scheme to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty after reaching agreements with prosecutors. Trump, Roman and the others left behind have pleaded not guilty.

Roman was director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign and had also worked in the White House.

Prosecutors say he helped coordinate an effort to contact state lawmakers on Trump’s behalf to encourage them to unlawfully appoint presidential electors.

He is also said to have been involved in efforts to rally Republicans in the swing states that Trump lost, including Georgia, on December 1. On August 14, 2020, they signed certificates falsely claiming that Trump won their states and that they were the electors for their states. He contacted local Republican officials in several states to organize these rallies.

The Washington Post first reported the hearing’s scheduling.


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