Former President Donald J. District Attorney Fannie D. is prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against Trump. Willis acknowledged Friday that he had a “personal relationship” with the attorney he hired to manage the case, but argued that was not a reason to disqualify him. Or her office from it.
Mr. The admission comes nearly a month after allegations of an “improper, secret personal relationship” between the two surfaced in a motion from one of Trump's co-defendants. The motion seeks to disqualify prosecutors and Ms. Willis's entire office from handling the case — a move that, if successful, would add confusion to the former president's unprecedented fraud case.
“While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and have received the media attention they were designed to receive, none have provided this court with any basis to order the relief they seek,” Ms. Willis' filing said. Advocate, Nathan J. Wade, Mrs. Willis is “not directly or indirectly involved in financial gain”.
Mr. Mr. Wade said the relationship began after he was hired.
The original motion, which contained allegations filed by Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official, alleged that Ms. Willis hired her “boyfriend” as special prosecutor, offered him lucrative contracts even though he was ineligible, and then benefited. Mr. Wade Paid Holidays.
But Ms Willis said in her post that “the financial responsibility for personal travel is roughly equally divided”. Mr. Wade echoed that language in her affidavit, saying Ms. Willis “received no funding or personal financial gain from being my special attorney.”
In November 2021 at the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, Mr. Mr. Wade said the relationship began before he started working. Roman's motion is to blame. But Mr. Wade, in his affidavit, noted that while he had been friends with Ms Willis since 2019, he only “developed a personal relationship” with her in 2022.
The allegations, and Ms Willis's silence about them until now, have thrown the high-profile prosecution off balance, given Mr Trump a new attack and raised the prospect of delays or serious damage to the case. Ms Willis sought to have the trial open in August, but no date has been set.
Mr. The allegations do not change the underlying facts of the alleged affair involving Trump and his associates. Four of the 19 original defendants pleaded guilty, including Mr. One of them, Jenna Ellis, tearfully told an inquest late last year that she looked back on what she had done with “deep regret”.
Last month Mr. Roman's movement provides no evidence of a romantic relationship. But a few weeks after it was filed, Mr. Wade's estranged wife produced credit card statements that showed he had purchased plane tickets for her and Ms. Willis after he began working in her office. The records show flights purchased from Atlanta to San Francisco on April 25, 2023, and from Atlanta to Miami on October 4, 2022.
But Ms. Willis also bought plane tickets for herself and Mr. Wade, according to the filing Friday, which also shows copies of her email traffic with Delta and travel arrangements to and from Miami. Melissa D., a University of Georgia law professor and former Fulton County prosecutor. Redmon said some of the assertions in the filings were Mr. That said, Roman's movement may be difficult to win.
“If they're splitting the costs,” Ms. Willis and Mr. “It's hard to say he personally benefited,” said Professor Redman, referring to Wade's personal travel expenses.
He added, “This is the crux of the defendants' strongest argument – that she should be disqualified because of her personal gain from the relationship.”
In a 2022 interview with The New York Times, Ms. Willis said that Mr. Wade was not her first choice for the job. But she described him as a longtime mentor and friend because she could count on him.
Mr. Roman's motion was that the relationship should be grounds for disqualification, and Mr. Requests that the case against Roman be dismissed. Mr. Trump joined the motion last week; Ms. Willis said in a speech last month that she and Mr. Wade also argued in a separate filing that when he claimed racism was behind the disqualification effort, he violated the state's banning rules. Both prosecutors are black, while most of the defendants are white.
Mrs. Willis scoffed at the claim of a conflict of interest, saying the idea that he had a financial stake in the case was “based on fanciful theories and standard speculation. Georgia law requires more.”
“The existence of a relationship between the members of the prosecution team is not, in itself, a condition that confers any remedy on a criminal defendant,” he added.
These matters will be heard by Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Scott McAfee. He has scheduled a hearing on February 15. Mr. Roman's attorney, Ashley Merchant, said Mr. Wade, Mrs. Willis and several other witnesses have been sent subpoenas demanding they testify at trial, though it's unclear whether the judge will grant it. She made them stand.
In response to Ms. Willis' filing on Friday, Ms. Merchant argued that an investigation was still necessary. “It is the personal knowledge of the witnesses that the personal relationship between Wade and Willis began before Wade and Willis were appointed special prosecutor,” he said in his own filing, adding that he wanted to question him in court about the matter.
Within an election interference investigation, the district attorney's office has already set a precedent for disqualification. In July 2022, a judge disqualified Ms. Willis and her office from pursuing a criminal case against Burt Jones, currently the lieutenant governor of Georgia, because M.
But in her filing on Friday, Ms Willis wrote that the planned hearing was unnecessary and would amount to “a ticket to the circus”. The “opinion and innuendo” about his personal life, he wrote, was “disgusting”.
Mr. Wade earned more than $650,000 for his work for the DA's office, Mr. Roman was prompted to repeatedly refer to “lucrative” contracts in his filings. But Mr. Willis, Mr. Defended Wade's wages. His rate of $250 an hour, he said, is “out of the norm for litigation firms in Georgia.”
In this case Mr. than other special prosecutors. He noted that while Wade earned more, the others had “more circumscribed roles.”
“Special Prosecutor Wade made more money than other special prosecutors because Wade did more work,” Ms. Willis wrote.
But if nothing else, the optics were not good for Ms. Willis's group. During her 2020 campaign for district attorney, Ms. Willis ran against an incumbent who faced sexual harassment allegations. During a campaign, Ms Willis said: “I certainly don't pick and choose people who work under me, I'll say that.” (His opponent, Paul Howard, was discovered Not guilty Harassment allegations in Dec.).
In a new broadside against Ms. Willis, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a staunch Trump ally, subpoenaed her office on Friday over her use of federal funds.
Mr. Trump himself took the blame. In a social media post on Friday, he said, said Ms. Willis was able to “get her 'boyfriend'” and get a substantial sum of money by hiring him to sue, the target Mr. Based on the fact that Trump. “That means this fraud is completely discredited and over!” he added.
In Georgia, where Republicans have a firm grip on state government, several investigations are on deck and could probe whether ethical and criminal violations have been committed. The biggest risk to Ms. Willis, and the lawsuit, may come from a new commission created by Republican state lawmakers to oversee district attorneys. The commission is expected to review his conduct when it runs later this year.
However, Mr. At the end of last year, the digital release root Ms. Willis was named No. 1 on the list of 100 Influential Black Americans, and was presented with the award at a ceremony at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Then, after the allegations emerged last month, The Root published an article criticizing Ms Willis for poor judgement, which it said held black people in high-ranking positions to stricter standards than their white counterparts. “We all love Willis here at The Root, and that's what she is Got first place At the Route 100 event last month” Article Said. “But she should know better than to put herself in this position.”
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Trump's chief lawyer, Steven H. Sato said Ms Willis' response failed to provide “full transparency and necessary financial details” regarding the relationship. In a Jan. 14 speech in Atlanta, Ms. Willis said her critics were “playing the race card” and that Mr. Willis was “violating his ethical responsibilities as a lawyer.” Sato insisted.
In Ms. Willis's filing, she said that Mr. Some examples of racist incitement aimed at Trump since he began questioning himself include unprintable slurs and epithets, sentiments such as “slavery forever” and a depiction of Ms Willis' face next to a rope.
“One might question whether the intent was to disqualify the attorney who accepted all the abuse to pursue justice in this case at great personal cost,” he wrote, “only to replace someone less committed to doing so.”