Fulton DA, special prosecutor admit to relationship, call motion to disqualify ‘meritless’

ATLANTA — Fani Willis is admitting to a personal relationship with the man she hired to be the special prosecutor in the case against Donald Trump and his co-defendants.

The admission was part of a 176-page document released on Friday. Trump’s attorneys are asking a judge to remove Willis from the case and drop the charges.

In a sworn affidavit that is part of the 176-page filing, Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade acknowledges a personal relationship with Willis, but the filing claims that the relationship is not financial and did not start until after he was hired.

“In 2022, District Attorney Willis and I developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship,” the document said.

But in the 176-page court filing, Willis’s office clarifies the timing, writing that there was no personal relationship in November 2021 at the time of Wade’s appointment.

“I tell you, I think there’s a lot for the defendants to work with here. So of course, the affidavit is vague, I would say even evasive,” Clark Cunningham, who teaches law at Georgia State University, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray.

Willis’ filing dismisses efforts by Trump and two defendants to remove her from the case as “meritless.”

“While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek,” the filing said.

The filing claims there is no financial relationship between the DA and Wade.


But Cunningham said the acknowledgment of the relationship means defense attorneys will have ammo to fight that point in a lengthy court battle unless Willis takes a leave of absence.

“I think this is going to be a long, complicated issue, and it’s going to delay this case terribly. And that kind of delay is bad for the case. It’s bad for the public,” Cunningham said.

It was defendant Michael Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, who first filed the motion to remove Willis and dismiss the charges.

Merchant previously told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne, “I would never have filed something like this if I didn’t have multiple sources to corroborate.”

In her motion, Merchant expressed questions about Wade’s qualifications for the job.

But Willis’s reply includes a picture of Merchant wearing a Wade campaign shirt in Wade’s race for a judge seat, with prosecutors writing, “Counsel for defendant Roman, of course, is well-familiar with the experience and qualifications of Special Prosecutor Wade.”

Merchant filed an official response late Friday that begins, “Let us be clear: If Mr. Roman had not uncovered the now-admitted personal Relationship between Willis and Wade, no one may have ever known about it.”

Merchant’s new filing alleges that “witnesses will testify that you (Wade) cohabitated with Ms. Willis at an Airbnb in Hapeville that was paid for by taxpayer money to serve as a ‘safe house’ for you and Ms. Willis.”

Trump’s Georgia attorney released a statement over the court filing, saying:

“The Fulton County DA’s response asks the Court to turn a blind eye to her alleged personal and financial misconduct. Her sole objective is to try and stop the Court from holding the evidentiary hearing that is set for February 15. While the DA admits to an intimate relationship with her employee Special Asst. DA Wade, she fails to provide full transparency and necessary financial details. Indeed, she says absolutely nothing about the so-called “coincidence” of Wade filing for divorce the day after the DA hired him! Most significantly, and disingenuously, the DA attempts to explain and downplay her “Church Speech,” by preposterously claiming that her racially charged extrajudicial comments were somehow not about the case or the defendants, and that her intentional injection of racial animus in violation of her ethical responsibilities as a prosecutor should simply be ignored. Apparently, the DA believes she can make public out-of-court statements about race, this case, and the defendants whenever she wants, and the Court is powerless to punish her by disqualification. Such hubris for all to see. Nothing has changed. Our requested remedy remains clear: dismiss the case and disqualify the DA, together with her team and office, from any related matters.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is going to hear the arguments on the motion to remove Willis on Feb. 15.


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