Top prosecutor and former romantic interest of Trump DA Fani Willis resigns following judge’s ultimatum

 

    • A judge issued a disqualification ruling in Trump’s Fulton County election-interference case.
    • The county’s DA, Fani Willis, dated the man she hired as a special prosecutor to oversee the case.
    • A lawyer for Mike Roman, a Trump codefendant, argued she benefited from his hiring.

A Georgia judge made a ruling on Friday morning regarding the state election-interference case involving former President Donald Trump. The ruling stated that District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County can continue overseeing the case, but only if her top prosecutor steps aside.

Atlanta-based attorney Nathan Wade announced his resignation just hours after the prosecutor made the statement.

In his resignation letter, he expressed his decision to step down from his position in the interest of democracy and to serve the American public. Despite the court’s finding that the defendants did not prove a conflict of interest on the part of the District Attorney, he believed it was necessary to move the case forward promptly.

Willis graciously accepted Wade’s resignation, praising him for his professionalism and dignity.

In her response, Willis expressed her gratitude and admiration for the bravery displayed in stepping forward to investigate and prosecute the allegations of a conspiracy to overturn Georgia’s 2020 Presidential election. She emphasized the importance of remembering and reminding others of this courageous act.

Willis and Wade were in a romantic relationship, which they testified ended last summer.

In an unexpected turn of events, Judge Scott McAfee delivered a groundbreaking ruling on Friday in the Superior Court of Fulton County. This ruling came after a thorough three-day evidentiary hearing held earlier this month, which focused on the allegations of misconduct against Willis and Wade. These two individuals were appointed to lead the investigation into the attempts made by Trump and his allies to overturn his loss in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election.

McAfee has made a ruling that presents two options: either Wade must step aside, or Willis and her entire office must relinquish the case.

In a written statement, he suggested that the District Attorney could opt to recuse herself and her entire office, and instead, refer the prosecution to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council for reassignment. Another option proposed was for SADA Wade to voluntarily withdraw, thereby allowing the District Attorney, the Defendants, and the public to proceed without any distractions or potential compromises to the merits of the case.

Willis’ office is set to carry on with the prosecution of the former president and his allies now that Wade has departed.

Willis’ time under the spotlight

Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Trump’s codefendant Mike Roman, contended in a motion to disqualify Willis that there existed a conflict of interest. The argument was based on the assertion that Willis had improperly benefited from her romantic relationship with Wade.

Merchant argued that Willis had received thousands of dollars from Wade to cover the expenses of her travel to luxurious vacations.

During the intense hearings, McAfee listened to testimony from various witnesses, including Willis, her former friend, her father Wade, and Wade’s former divorce attorney. The aim was to establish the timeline of their relationship and ascertain if there were any financial advantages involved.

According to testimony from Willis’ former friend, Wade and Willis started dating in 2019, which was years before she hired him for the Trump case in November 2021. During the trial, Terrence Bradley, Wade’s ex-law partner and divorce attorney, admitted that he had previously texted Merchant saying that he believed Willis had begun dating Wade before she hired him for the prominent case.

During questioning, Bradley admitted that his previous statement about the timing of Willis and Wade’s relationship was merely speculative.

In his statement on Friday, McAfee expressed his skepticism towards the testimony provided by Terrance Bradley.

According to McAfee, the inconsistencies, demeanor, and lack of responsive answers from Bradley were not reliable enough to draw any conclusions. McAfee further stated that although prior inconsistent statements can be considered as substantial evidence under Georgia law, Bradley’s attempt to impeach Wade through text messages did not provide a solid basis for his extensive knowledge of Wade’s personal affairs.

Wade and Willis both confirmed that they started dating in early 2022, during their time working together. However, they revealed that their relationship ended last summer.

During a February 15 evidentiary hearing, both individuals attested to the unwavering independence of the district attorney, emphasizing her insistence on covering her own expenses. According to their testimonies, Wade would initially cover the travel costs using his credit card, and Willis would subsequently reimburse him in cash, without keeping a record of the transactions. Alternatively, she would cover similar expenses of equal value.

Before her testimony, legal experts widely acknowledged that Willis’ association with Wade was seen as unfavorable optics. However, it was not perceived to reach the extent of a conflict of interest in the election-interference case.

In his order on Friday, Judge McAfee ultimately agreed with the defense lawyers’ argument. He stated that Willis did not receive any personal benefit or kickback payments from Wade, debunking the allegations made against her.

According to McAfee, the District Attorney did not act in accordance with the theory that she orchestrated a financial scheme to benefit herself or gain favor with Wade by prolonging this prosecution or engaging in excessive litigation.

‘An odor of mendacity remains’

Defense attorneys for Roman, Trump, and other codefendants in the Georgia election-interference case asserted during the closing arguments of the evidentiary hearing that Willis had a pre-existing relationship with Wade before hiring him and that she gained advantages from his appointment.

“In his closing arguments, John Merchant, an attorney representing Roman and the husband of the late Justice Merchant, expressed concern about the potential consequences of allowing such behavior to continue. He warned that if the court permits district attorneys across the state to engage in these activities without consequence, it would severely damage public confidence in the justice system and undermine its integrity.”

During the hearing, Adam Abbate, a prosecutor from Willis’ office, contended that the defense attorneys needed to demonstrate a tangible conflict of interest but were unable to do so.

Abbate argued before the court, emphasizing that the attempt to remove the prosecutor from the case was a desperate move, lacking any valid reason. He firmly stated, “Your honor, it is clear that this is nothing more than an act of harassment and embarrassment.”

“The district attorney’s disqualification motion should be denied as the necessary legal requirements have not been met,” stated the prosecutor confidently.

“The defendants have not presented any legal or factual arguments that meet the requirements for disqualification,” he stated.

According to McAfee, Willis exhibited a significant lapse in judgment and acted unprofessionally while testifying during his hearings.

He stated that although he did not discover a genuine conflict of interest, there is still a lingering suspicion of dishonesty.

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