Trump Georgia Case: Nathan Wade Settles Divorce, Avoiding Testimony
The special prosecutor leading the election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump will not have to testify this week about an alleged romantic relationship with his boss, Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, after reaching a tentative divorce settlement on Tuesday.
The apparent resolution of the divorce between the special prosecutor, Nathan J. Wade, and his wife, Joycelyn Wade, leaves unanswered for the time being a question that has created potential peril for Ms. Willis’s high-profile prosecution of Mr. Trump and 14 of his allies.
Ms. Willis hired Mr. Wade, a lawyer in private practice, in 2021 to help run the Trump case, saying that she needed a trustworthy confidant for the job. But a filing three weeks ago from one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants, Michael Roman, claimed that the two prosecutors were romantically involved and had taken vacations paid for by Mr. Wade.
Mr. Roman argues that this amounts to a conflict of interest, and is grounds for removing both prosecutors, as well as Ms. Willis’s entire office, from the case.
So far, neither Mr. Wade nor Ms. Willis have confirmed or denied the allegations of a relationship. But in recent days, it seemed increasingly likely that Mr. Wade would be forced to address the claims at a divorce hearing on Wednesday, where he was expected to take the stand.
The hearing was scuttled at the last minute, with a “temporary agreement” announced by the judge on Tuesday afternoon. “We can confirm that this is a temporary agreement in place while the final details are worked out,” said a spokeswoman for Andrea Dyer Hastings, Ms. Wade’s divorce lawyer.
Mr. Wade married Ms. Wade in 1997 and filed for divorce more than two years ago.
Ms. Willis has until Friday to respond to Mr. Roman’s filing. It is not clear whether she will address the relationship allegations in her response.
The filing from Mr. Roman, a former Trump campaign staff member, did not offer proof of the romantic relationship between the prosecutors. But it said that they had been seen “in a personal relationship capacity” around Atlanta, and claimed that people close to both of them had confirmed it.
Mr. Wade has reaped more than $650,000 in legal fees since Ms. Willis hired him in November 2021. Mr. Roman’s filing said that Ms. Willis, by taking vacations that Mr. Wade paid for, had been “profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers.” That, he said, was the conflict of interest.
The allegations do not change the underlying facts of the case, which assert that Mr. Trump and his allies engaged in a plot to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four of the 19 original defendants have already pleaded guilty, including some of Mr. Trump’s staunchest 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.”
Legal experts disagree on the strength of Mr. Roman’s filing, and whether it will convince the presiding judge in the case, Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, that the prosecution team should be removed. Mr. Roman’s filing also asks that the seven felony charges against him be dismissed.
But the accusations have created other serious complications for Ms. Willis. Fulton County has begun an inquiry and asked Ms. Willis to provide numerous documents, including invoices and payments to special prosecutors; the county commission does not, however, have the power to remove the elected district attorney.
A new commission established by Republican lawmakers to oversee prosecutors is expected to review Ms. Willis’s conduct, and could pose a graver threat. Though the legislature has not yet determined the extent of the commission’s powers, it will most likely be able to punish or remove Georgia prosecutors.