A Superior Court Judge in Georgia, Scott McAfee, has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 15 to examine allegations against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her chief prosecutor.
The accusations, raised by former campaign aide Mike Roman, a co-defendant in the election interference case against former President Donald Trump, allege an improper relationship and misuse of public funds. The judge has ordered Willis to submit a written response by Feb. 2.
The charges surfaced in a legal document by Roman and were later reported by The Washington Post.
Willis has yet to respond publicly to these allegations. Judge McAfee’s order mandates her response in a televised court session, potentially causing embarrassment or even jeopardizing the investigation. Roman’s legal motion seeks the removal of Willis and Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor, from the case and also requests dismissal of the charges.
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Willis has been accused of hiring a private lawyer she was in a ‘romantic’ relationship with to prosecute Trump. The charges are included in a filing by Roman, the former Trump campaign staffer accused of participating in the ‘fake electors’ plan as one of 18 persons indicted in the state with Trump.
Willis was in a personal connection with private lawyer Nathan Wade, who was paid more than $600,000 as a special prosecutor aiding her office’s extensive investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to the public court document, which seeks the dismissal of charges against him.
According to the document, “sources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney have confirmed they had an ongoing, personal relationship.”
“So obviously my plan with this was to allow the state an opportunity to respond before setting a hearing date,” Judge McAfee said on Friday. “Early February would be the soonest that would happen.”
A representative from the District Attorney’s office previously indicated that their response to the accusations would be made “through appropriate court filings.”
Steve Sadow, a lawyer for Trump, mentioned that Trump’s defense team was contemplating supporting the motion related to what he termed the “salacious and scandalous” accusations. However, they intended to first gain a “better understanding or substantiation” of these claims, acknowledging that they currently lack evidence to back them.
Sadow explained, “I don’t have a factual background that I can state to the court that supports that at this point. I’m leery of moving to adopt motions that make such allegations without having a better understanding or substantiation of the allegations.”
Willis received a subpoena in relation to Wade’s divorce proceedings, as per a court document from a different lawsuit. The subpoena, sought by Wade’s wife Joycelyn Wade, was left with Willis’ executive assistant. A Willis spokesperson declined to comment but said that a response to the subpoena would be forthcoming.
Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for Roman, added that a relationship between Willis and Wade resulted “in the special prosecutor, and, in turn, the district attorney, profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers.” She claimed that documents in the sealed divorce case would substantiate Roman’s claims and requested the judge order them to be unsealed.
In an interview, Merchant had said she reviewed all meeting minutes by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, which is supposed to approve the hiring of special prosecutors. She claimed she could not find an instance when DA Willis petitioned for the hiring of Wade.
Trump has maintained his innocence in the case.