An Atlanta-area judge overseeing the election interference case against former President Donald Trump confirmed on Monday that he will hold a hearing on allegations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) had an inappropriate personal relationship with the lead prosecutor in the case.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s decision to hold an evidentiary hearing on Thursday is a setback for Willis, who had asked the judge to cancel the hearing and reject motions from Trump and other co-defendants seeking to disqualify her based on her claims of an inappropriate relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade.
“Specifically looking at defendant Roman’s motion, it alleges a personal relationship that resulted in a financial benefit to the district Attorney, and that is no longer a matter of complete speculation,” Judge McAfee stated. “The state has admitted a relationship existed, and so what remains to be proven is the existence and extent of any financial benefit. Again, if there even was one.”
“So because I think it’s possible that the facts alleged by the defendant could result in disqualification, I think an evidentiary hearing must occur to establish the record on those core allegations,” he added. “So just to emphasize, I think the issues that point here are whether a relationship existed.”
McAfee stated that an actual conflict or the appearance of one is sufficient grounds for excluding Willis from the case. However, he also stated that he would not hear testimony at the hearing regarding Wade’s claimed lack of qualifications for his position, noting that the district attorney has the discretion to hire anyone with “a heartbeat and a bar card.”
“I think it’s clear that disqualification can occur if evidence is produced demonstrating an actual conflict or the appearance of one,” McAfee said.
Fani Willis had recently admitted to having an intimate personal relationship with Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade. Witnesses have averred that the relationship began prior to Wade’s appointment to the post, whereas he lacks relevant experience and qualifications.
McAfee’s ruling comes more than a month after Mike Roman, a former Trump campaign aide and one of the former president’s co-defendants, said in a court document that Willis and Wade were participating in a “improper, clandestine personal relationship” that benefited both of them financially.
Roman argued Willis may have violated the law by employing Wade, an outside counsel with little expertise prosecuting criminal cases, and then enabling him to pay for “vacations across the world” with her that had nothing to do with their work on the case.
Willis acknowledged a personal relationship with Wade in a petition on February 2, but maintained that it compromised the proceedings. She also firmly refuted any allegations of impropriety, calling them “meritless” and “salacious,” and arguing that personal connections between lawyers “do not constitute impermissible conflicts of interest.”
“No funds paid to me in compensation for my role as Special Prosecutor have been shared with or provided to District Attorney Willis,” Wade claimed in the affidavit. “The District Attorney received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as Special Prosecutor.”
Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is also feeling the heat from congressional scrutiny of her office’s alleged coordination with the House Select Committee on January 6 and the White House Counsel’s office.
On Feb. 2, the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to Willis for records relating to her suspected misuse of federal funds in her indictment of former President Donald Trump. Willis refused to accept the subpoena when it was emailed to her, forcing the U.S. Marshals Service to serve it on her, according to a source familiar with the case.
The Daily Caller was able to independently verify that the U.S. Marshals Service had to serve the subpoena to Willis.
“Why wouldn’t Fani Willis just accept service like everyone else? Making the U.S. Marshal’s Service use taxpayer money to do this is a complete waste of time and resources. But we shouldn’t be surprised when it comes to her office,” a source familiar with the situation told the Daily Caller.
The House Judiciary Committee requested that Willis turn over all documents and communications relating to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office’s receipt and use of federal funds from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported extensively on Willis’ alleged misuse of government funds and inability to properly report it. As a result, Republican Georgia Lt. Governor Burt Jones formed a special committee to investigate Willis. The nonpartisan committee, comprised of six Republicans and three Democrats, will investigate Willis’ relationship with her lover Nathan Wade, as well as the potential misuse of taxpayer monies.
Willis admits to having a relationship with Wade, the special prosecutor she hired to investigate Trump’s election tampering case. Over the last few weeks, the Fulton County District Attorney has been accused of being Wade’s boyfriend and inappropriately benefiting from lucrative contracts awarded to him by her office.
“Fani Willis, the D.A. of Fulton County, just admitted to having a sexual relationship with the Prosecutor she, in consultation with the White House and DOJ, appointed to ‘GET PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP,’” Trump posted. “By going after the most high level person, and the Republican Nominee, she was able to get her ‘lover’ much more money, almost a Million Dollars, than she would be able to get for the prosecution of any other person or individual. THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”