Fulton County DA Speaks Out After Allegation of ‘Improper’ Romantic Relationship

Fulton County DA Speaks Out After Allegation of ‘Improper’ Romantic Relationship

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The district attorney in the Trump case appeared to suggest that racial animus played a role in the accusations.

Embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made her first comments Sunday on a growing corruption scandal, coming after a Trump co-defendant alleged in court papers that she engaged in an “improper” relationship with a top prosecutor in the case.

In comments she made at an Atlanta church on Sunday, Ms. Willis suggested that racism may have played a role in the court filings. She did not provide any evidence for that assertion.

“I appointed three special counselors. It’s my right to do. Paid them all the same hourly rate,” Ms. Willis said, referring to the sweeping case against President Donald Trump and more than a dozen others. “They only attack one. I hired one white woman: a good personal friend and great lawyer, a superstar, I tell you. I hired one white man: brilliant, my friend, and a great lawyer. And I hired one black man, another superstar, a great friend, and a great lawyer.”

“You did not tell me as a woman of color, it would not matter what I did. My motive, my talent, my ability, and my character would be constantly attacked,” she also said.

In her comments, she did not directly address the allegations in the court papers—that she and special prosecutor Nathan Wade engaged in an inappropriate relationship and that her office paid his private law firm hundreds of thousands of dollars as he allegedly took her on lavish vacations. However, she touted his resume and said he “served as a prosecutor, a criminal defense lawyer, special assistant attorney general.”

“Isn’t it them playing the race card when they only question one?” Ms. Willis, who is black and a Democrat, asked. “They call me the N-word more than they call me Fani,” she added, also without providing evidence for her claims.

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The allegations about an inappropriate relationship were in a motion filed last week by Ashleigh Merchant, who represents Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer and onetime White House aide. The filing alleges that Ms. Willis was involved in an “improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case” with Nathan Wade, the outside lawyer she hired, “which has resulted in the special prosecutor, and, in turn, the district attorney, profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers.”

When asked for comment by several media outlets last week, a spokesperson for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office said they would file an appropriate response in court papers. The Epoch Times has contacted Ms. Willis’s office and Mr. Wade’s law firm for comment, while Mr. Wade has not yet publicly remarked on the allegations.

The motion filed by Mr. Roman seeks to have the indictment dismissed and to disqualify Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade and their offices from further prosecuting the case.

“Willis has benefited substantially and directly, and continues to benefit, from this litigation because Wade is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute this case on her behalf,” his motion last week stated.

The defendant “will continue to be incentivized to prosecute this case based on his personal and financial motives, so he has acquired a unique and personal interest or stake in Mr. Roman’s continued prosecution,” it added, noting that Mr. Wade is ”motivated to prosecute Mr. Roman for as long as possible because he will continue to make exorbitant sums of money” from the county.

Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade, left, and executive district attorney Daysha Young confer during a hearing in the 2020 Georgia election interference case at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 1, 2023. (John David Mercer- Pool/Getty Images)
Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade, left, and executive district attorney Daysha Young confer during a hearing in the 2020 Georgia election interference case at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 1, 2023. (John David Mercer- Pool/Getty Images)

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said during a hearing Friday that he is awaiting a response from the district attorney’s office and expects to set a hearing on the motion in February. Other defense attorneys in the case, including Trump attorney Steve Sadow, have said they want to look into the allegations before deciding whether they want to join the motion.

Meanwhile, the motion alleged that Mr. Roman’s counsel can find no evidence that Mr. Wade, whose law firm website promotes his experience in civil litigation, including car accident and family law cases, has ever prosecuted a felony case. She questioned his qualifications to try this case.

Mr. Roman’s filing offered no proof of the alleged relationship or trips that she said that Mr. Willis and Mr. Wade had taken together. However, in comments to a local news outlet over the weekend, Ms. Merchant, his attorney, said that multiple witnesses are willing to testify in the case and alleged that one former staffer at Ms. Willis’ office said that it was well-known that she and Mr. Wade were involved in a relationship.
Media reports also have indicated that Ms. Willis was subpoenaed in a divorce case involving Mr. Wade and his ex-wife. The court filings in that case have been sealed since February 2022. In her comments Sunday, the district attorney did not make any reference to that divorce case.

Ms. Merchant and Mr. Roman also allege Ms. Willis did not get necessary approval from county leaders to hire Wade and that no special prosecutor’s oath had been filed for him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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