Willis Admits Relationship With Prosecutor, Denies It Taints Trump Case

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 12- Special prosecutor Nathan Wade speaks during a motions hearing for former President Trump's election interference case at the Lewis R.Slaton Courthouse on Friday, January 12, 2024 in Atlanta... ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 12- Special prosecutor Nathan Wade speaks during a motions hearing for former President Trump's election interference case at the Lewis R.Slaton Courthouse on Friday, January 12, 2024 in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images/Pool Photo via AP) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday for the first time directly addressed allegations that she had an improper relationship with a top prosecutor in her RICO case against Donald Trump and more than a dozen other defendants. In a court filing, she confirmed that she began a “personal relationship” with prosecutor Nathan Wade beginning in 2022, but denied that that relationship tainted her case.

Willis argued that the relationship should not have any affect on whether she can continue to prosecute Donald Trump and his co-defendants. She emphasized in the filing that she did not hire Wade because of the relationship and that Wade hasn’t received any special financial benefit from the government because of the relationship. He was hired in November 2021, Willis said in the filing, months before the relationship began.

Mike Roman, a Trump operative charged in the matter, raised the lurid allegations of an improper relationship between the two last month, asking the court to disqualify Willis from prosecuting the case and to dismiss all the charges against him. Trump and another defendant later joined the motion.

And though she draws a sharp line between the admitted relationship and claims that it might impact the case at all, much of her argument also reveals how damaging the allegations might be.

“The existence of a relationship between members of a prosecution team, in and of itself, is simply not a status that entitles a criminal defendant any remedy,” Willis wrote at one point.

At another, Willis argued that “Special Prosecutor Wade made much more money than the other special prosecutors only because Wade did much more work.”

In an affidavit attached to the filing, Wade himself denied accusations that the DA’s office paid for trips that he and Willis took. He said that the money for the travel, which included trips to Aruba and Florida, came from their personal funds. None of his income from his work on the Trump RICO case funded activities with Willis or was shared with Willis, he said. He described the two as “financially independent professionals” who used personal funds to buy each other trips.

Fulton County Superior Court judge Scott McAfee ordered an evidentiary hearing on Feb. 15 to air out the claims.

And the filing suggested that the prosecuting team is ready to get in the muck and fight. She included Facebook images of Roman’s attorney Ashleigh Merchant from 2016, in which she dances while advocating for Wade’s candidacy for a judicial post.

“Why Nathan Wade? Nathan is ethical,” the Facebook post included by prosecutors in the filing reads.

“Counsel for Defendant Roman, of course, is well-familiar with the experience and qualifications of Special Prosecutor Wade, whatever contrary representations are made in Roman’s motion,” Willis wrote.

Wade is not a full-time employee of the Fulton County DA’s office, but was contracted to be a special prosecutor on the Trump case in 2021. Ongoing divorce proceedings between Wade and his estranged wife have fed into claims from Trumpworld that he and Willis were engaged in an improper relationship where the two benefitted financially from the Trump case.

In the affidavit, Wade said that Willis initially asked him in spring 2021 to help find a “competent, trustworthy attorney to manage and lead the investigation” of attempts to interfere with Georgia’s 2020 election. Wade added that he received $250 per hour for the work, “significantly less than the market rate for experienced lawyers in the Atlanta metro area.”

From there, Wade said, Willis approached him with an offer to take the job in September 2021, and that he only agreed to work on the matter two months later after resigning from his judicial appointments. The relationship then began in 2022, he said.

Read the filing here:

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. Prediction: Trumpistas will try to make something of this (probably with shrieking racist undertones), and in the end it will not save Donnie’s fat orange ass.

  2. Avatar for jm917 jm917 says:

    Let us hope that this does not interfere with the timely and successful prosecution of the Orange Jesus and the rest of his gang.

    But I fear that the Georgia Republican authorities and the Supremos will find some dark and devious way to derail an otherwise winnable case to put the Orange Jesus and his accomplices into some suitable backwoods Georgia prison.

  3. Very disappointed in Willis. I would have thought she had better judgement to keep her personal life clean and without speculative fodder that the Trump team will undoubtedly capitalize on.

  4. Passion is blind, very unfortunately in this situation. Disappointing, as it takes the focus off of issues of long delayed justice.

  5. Don’t bang the help, folks. This is a baseline rule of personal behavior in any modern workplace setting.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

305 more replies


Avatar for bdtex Avatar for daled Avatar for lestatdelc Avatar for sandi Avatar for dr_coyote Avatar for ealleniii Avatar for jw1 Avatar for sooner Avatar for trnc Avatar for darcy Avatar for musgrove Avatar for seehowtheyrun Avatar for noonm Avatar for khyber900 Avatar for hahagoodman Avatar for kelaine Avatar for erik_t Avatar for seamus42 Avatar for 19tibekius6 Avatar for temmerling Avatar for jackofalltirades Avatar for txlawyer Avatar for timbomov Avatar for john_adams

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: