Fani Willis Admits Relationship With Colleague Nathan Wade in Trump Georgia Case

Fani T. Willis, the district attorney prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump, acknowledged on Friday a “personal relationship” with a prosecutor she hired to manage the case but argued that it was not a reason to disqualify her or her office from it.

The admission came almost a month after allegations of an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” between the two surfaced in a motion from one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants. The motion seeks to disqualify both prosecutors and Ms. Willis’s entire office from handling the case — an effort that, if successful, would likely sow chaos for an unprecedented state criminal prosecution of a former president.

“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,” Ms. Willis’s filing said, adding that “the personal relationship between” Ms. Willis and the prosecutor, Nathan J. Wade, “has never involved direct or indirect financial benefit” to Ms. Willis.

Ms. Willis’s filing includes an affidavit from Mr. Wade asserting that the personal relationship started only after Mr. Wade had been hired.

The original motion containing the accusations, filed by Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official, alleged that Ms. Willis had hired her “boyfriend” as a special prosecutor, granting him lucrative contracts even though he was underqualified, and then benefited from going on vacations that Mr. Wade paid for.

But Ms. Willis said in her filing that “financial responsibility for personal travel taken is divided roughly evenly” and Mr. Wade echoed that language in his affidavit, adding that Ms. Willis “received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as Special Prosecutor.”

Mr. Roman’s motion also alleged that the relationship began before Mr. Wade started working for the Fulton County district attorney’s office in November 2021. But in her filing on Friday, Ms. Willis included an affidavit from Mr. Wade in which he stated that he had “developed a personal relationship” with Ms. Willis in 2022.

The allegations, and Ms. Willis’s silence about them until now, have thrown the high-stakes prosecution off balance, giving Mr. Trump a new line of attack and raising the prospect of delays or more serious impacts on the case. Ms. Willis has sought to have the trial start in August, but no date has been set.

The allegations do not change the underlying facts of the case, which accuse Mr. Trump and his allies of engaging in a plot to subvert Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. Four of the 19 original defendants have pleaded guilty, including some of Mr. Trump’s most zealous defenders. One of them, Jenna Ellis, said tearfully during a hearing late last year that she looked back on what she did “with deep remorse.”

Mr. Roman’s motion last month provided no evidence of a romantic relationship. But several weeks after it was filed, Mr. Wade’s estranged wife produced credit card statements that showed that he bought plane tickets for himself and Ms. Willis, though those purchases took place after he began working for the Fulton County prosecutor’s office. The records show flights to San Francisco from Atlanta purchased on April 25, 2023, and to Miami from Atlanta purchased on Oct. 4, 2022.

But Ms. Willis also purchased plane tickets for herself and Mr. Wade, according to the filing Friday, which included copies of her email traffic with Delta showing travel arrangements to and from Miami.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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