Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has acknowledged a “personal relationship” with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired for the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump. In a court filing on Friday, Willis defended the case, asserting that the relationship does not warrant dismissal or her removal from prosecution.
Willis enlisted Wade’s assistance in November 2021 to investigate allegations that Trump and others violated laws in their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Wade has been leading the legal team since Trump and 18 others were indicted in August.
The indictment includes a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find votes to overturn his election loss. Trump, maintaining his innocence, argues he had the right to challenge the election results.
This court filing is the first direct response from Willis and Wade addressing the alleged relationship since the claims surfaced. Wade stated in an affidavit that their personal relationship developed in 2022 but emphasized their financial independence, refuting claims of a conflict of interest.
The response comes after a motion by defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, representing Trump co-defendant Michael Roman, alleged an inappropriate romantic relationship between Willis and Wade. Roman sought dismissal of the case, claiming Willis benefited financially. A hearing on this motion is set for Feb. 15.
Willis’ team urged the judge to dismiss the motion without a hearing, stating it lacks merit. Trump’s lead attorney, Steve Sadow, criticized Willis, accusing her of attempting to halt the hearing without providing full financial details.
Merchant argued for a hearing, asserting Roman’s right to cross-examine and test the prosecution’s claims. Willis’ filing maintains there is no financial or personal conflict justifying her removal from the case, deeming the allegations “salacious” and media-driven.
Critics, including Trump, have exploited the allegations to cast doubt on the case’s legitimacy. Willis, facing reelection, addressed the contradiction with her prior statement about not dating subordinates during her 2020 campaign. The filing defended Wade’s qualifications and suggested racism played a role in questioning his capabilities.
The response includes exhibits of awards Wade received and Facebook posts supporting him from Merchant in 2016. Willis defended her public comments, claiming they adhere to legal and ethical guidelines, while Trump’s attorney rejected this, alleging an inappropriate injection of racism into the case.