DA Fani Willis takes the stand in motions hearing to disqualify her from election indictment case

ATLANTA — A judge is holding a hearing on whether to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the election interference indictment case over a personal relationship with the special prosecutor in the case.

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade took the stand Thursday morning and has been questioned so far about his financials, his divorce, and trips he took with Willis.

Just before 3 p.m., Willis appeared in the courtroom where she removed her motion to quash her subpoena and agreed to take the stand.

Willis angrily pushed back against what she described as “lies” about her romantic relationship with a special prosecutor.

In an extraordinary moment in a hearing that could lead to her disqualification from the case, a fiery Willis agreed to testify after a former friend and co-worker said Willis’ relationship with Wade began earlier than they had claimed. Willis and Wade both testified that they began dating in 2022, after he was hired as special prosecutor.

LIVE coverage of today’s proceedings on WSBTV.com here and RIGHT NOW on Channel 2 Action News.

Willis opened an investigation into former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants for possible election interference a month after she took office as district attorney in 2021.

A year later, Willis asked and got a special purpose grand jury empaneled to investigate. It began in May 2022 and finished in December that same year.

In Aug. 2023, a regular grand jury indictment was handed up against Trump and 18 others on charges of racketeering and conspiracy. A few co-defendants have since taken plea deals.

Willis’ attorneys had originally fought to keep her off the witness stand, but Willis said she was eager to set the record straight, saying “it’s highly offensive when someone lies on you.”

“Do you think I’m on trial? These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I’m not on trial no matter how hard you try to put me on trial,” Willis said under questioning by defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who is seeking to have Willis and her office removed from the case.

Thursday’s hearing will decide if Willis and her office can continue prosecuting the case. Co-defendant Michael Roman and his attorneys have alleged in court documents that Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade had an improper relationship before Wade was hired.

Willis and Wade filed a response that acknowledged a personal relationship with Willis. Still, the filing claims that the relationship did not start until after he was hired and didn’t result in any financial benefits.

Willis and her office filed last week to have several subpoenas quashed against her and others in her office.

If Willis were disqualified, a council that supports prosecuting attorneys in Georgia would find a new attorney to take over who could either proceed with the charges against Trump and 14 others or drop the case altogether.


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