District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday admitted to having a “personal relationship” with Nathan Wade, one of the top prosecutors on Fulton County’s election interference case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Willis then said no conflict justified removing her or her office from prosecuting Donald Trump and 14 others.
Willis’ response to the allegations was highly anticipated and has rocked the Trump case for the last month.
In her 176-page legal response, Willis said the accusations against her and Wade were created to gain media attention and that they don’t carry much legal weight.
“(T)he motions attempt to cobble together entirely unremarkable circumstances of Special Prosecutor Wade’s appointment with completely irrelevant allegations about his personal family life into a manufactured conflict of interest on the part of the District Attorney,” the filing said. “The effort must fail.”
The allegations against Willis and Wade surfaced in a Jan. 8 court filing from defendant Michael Roman, who claims Willis, through her romantic relationship with Wade, has a financial interest in the case that should disqualify her and her office from prosecuting it.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had given Willis until Friday to respond to the allegations and has scheduled an evidentiary hearing on February 15.
Roman’s lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant, subpoenaed Willis, Wade, and others in the DA’s office to testify at the hearing, as well as travel companies for receipts of trips the two have taken together, as well as Wade’s bank for his financial statements.
The state’s response Friday said the DA’s office will move to quash the subpoenas. Their testimony is designed to attract “more breathless media coverage and intrude even further into the personal lives of the prosecution team to embarrass and harass the district attorney personally,” the filing said.
It added, “This is not an example of zealous advocacy, nor is it a good faith effort to develop a record on a disputed legal issue — it is a ticket to the circus.”
Willis and Wade had been friends since 2019 and developed a personal relationship after he was hired to lead the Trump case in November 2021.
“In 2022, District Attorney Willis and I developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship,” Wade said in an affidavit attached to the DA’s response.
Willis hasn’t improperly benefited from Wade’s appointment and compensation, her office argued.
”To be absolutely clear, the personal relationship between Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney Willis has never involved direct or indirect financial benefit to District Attorney Willis,” the filing said. “Defendants have produced no evidence to suggest that there is any circumstance that would constitute a financial incentive on the District Attorney’s part to pursue a conviction in this case through the appointment of Special Prosecutor Wade.”
The response also stated that Willis and Wade do not share finances or financial accounts; are not now and have never been in any shared household; and are not financially reliant on each other.