Accusations of inappropriate relationship between prosecutors in Trump Georgia case

Accusations that Fulton County (Ga.) District Attorney Fani Willis (D) hired a romantic partner as a top prosecutor in former President Trump’s criminal case have given new fodder to attacks from Republicans as well as Trump and his co-defendants.

The accusation first surfaced last week in court papers filed by an attorney for Mike Roman, a Trump 2020 campaign operative who is one of the former president’s co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, although it did not contain any hard proof of the alleged relationship. 

More than a week later, Willis has not denied the claims — and neither has the prosecutor in question, Nathan Wade. 

Over the weekend, Willis appeared to respond to the accusation for the first time, not referencing Wade by name but seemingly calling him a “great friend” and defending his hiring. Willis also called out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) after the lawmaker demanded a criminal investigation, saying her spirit is “filled with hate.” 

“I hope for y’all this week I don’t look like what I’ve been through,” Willis said while speaking at an Atlanta church service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Roman’s filing asserted that the purported relationship makes the indictment “fatally defective,” asking the judge to dismiss the charges and block Willis, Wade and the Fulton County district attorney’s office from further involvement in the case.

Judge Scott McAfee, who oversees the case, has said he will hold a hearing on the matter; he signaled it won’t occur until early February, if not later. 

Even if the accusation is true, some legal experts have expressed doubts it would require Willis to be knocked off the case. But Greene and other Trump allies have nonetheless latched onto the revelation, using it to bolster their claims that the former president’s prosecution is politically motivated.

Willis over the weekend insinuated race was playing a role in the criticism, noting she had hired three special prosecutors but that only Wade, a Black man, was questioned.

“I want to be clear: All three of these special counselors are superstars,” Willis said. “But I’m just asking, God, is it that some will never see a Black man as qualified, no matter his achievements? What more can one achieve? The other two have never been judges, but no one questions their credentials.”

Wade served as a municipal judge and before coming aboard the Trump prosecution ran a private practice focused on family law and contract disputes. But his relatively little experience with complex criminal prosecutions has come under scrutiny, and his critics have noted the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has received in pay for prosecuting Trump. 

In one of four criminal indictments Trump faces, Willis’s team charged the former president alongside more than a dozen of his allies with racketeering for allegedly entering a months-long conspiracy to unlawfully keep Trump in power following the 2020 election. He pleaded not guilty. 

The former president last week called for the case against him to be dropped, describing Willis as “totally compromised.”  

Trump’s lead Georgia attorney, Steve Sadow, has taken a more cautious approach to the revelation so far, however. It’s in line with his less abrasive approach toward prosecutors throughout the case, even as his client regularly hurls incendiary comments. 

At a hearing last week, Sadow told the judge that he wanted to first allow Willis to respond before declaring Trump’s position on the matter. After Willis’s comments over the weekend, Sadow did push back a bit more forcefully.

“Madam DA: I must respectfully inquire why have you chosen to play the race card instead of being transparent with the public about your ‘relationship’ with your ‘great friend?’ You know that the matter raised before the court has nothing to do with race. If it’s truth you seek, tell it!” Sadow wrote on LinkedIn.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, many of whom have long criticized Trump’s criminal indictments as politically motivated, have taken a less heedful approach.

Greene responded by demanding that Georgia’s governor and attorney general order a criminal investigation into Willis and Wade.

“This is part of Fani Willis’ unlawful partisan pattern, through her words and deeds, to illegally politicize and weaponize her public office to wage lawfare against President Trump for the purpose of interfering in the 2024 presidential election. And now we are learning she has allegedly enriched her secret boyfriend and herself during this process,” Greene wrote to the officials in a letter dated Wednesday.

“Dear God, I do not want to be like those that attacked me,” Willis responded in her remarks Sunday. “I never want to be a Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has never met me but has allowed her spirit to be filled with hate.”

On Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) launched an inquiry into the matter in attempting to probe Willis’s prosecution.

“This new information released recently only reinforces the Committee’s concerns about politically motivated prosecutions by state and local officials,” Jordan wrote in a letter to Wade. 

Though the lawmakers’ remarks will likely have no bearing on the case, an appearance of impropriety could make it harder for Willis to secure a future conviction if she can’t convince a jury there is no conflict of interest.

Eyes now turn to a Jan. 31 hearing, when Ashleigh Merchant, the attorney who first brought forward the romance accusation on behalf of Roman, will urge a judge to unseal Wade’s ongoing divorce case. 

Merchant has said the case file includes further evidence of Wade’s alleged relationship with Willis. The district attorney was subpoenaed in the divorce case the day the accusations went public. 

“We support full transparency among all parties,” Andrea Dyer Hastings, an attorney for Wade’s wife, said in a statement.

“Our investigation as to Mr. Wade’s behavior is independent of any other court case or proceedings,” Hastings continued. “We expect that all questions raised will be addressed in court. Our singular focus is on Ms. Wade and helping her enter a peaceful new chapter in her life.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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