Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis admitted that she had a personal relationship with the special prosecutor heading the case against former President Donald Trump but denied that it had any impact on the proceedings, according to a court filing obtained Friday by WSB-TV.
The admission came after an attorney representing one of the 18 people charged alongside Trump accused Willis of having a “clandestine personal relationship” with special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Michael Roman, said the relationship “resulted in the special prosecutor, and, in turn, the district attorney, profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers.”
In Friday’s court filing, Willis called the allegations “salacious” and “a blatant misrepresentation designed to seek publicity instead of a meritorious legal remedy.” She said an effort to disqualify her from the case due to the relationship was “meritless.”
“District Attorney Willis has no financial conflict of interest that constitutes a legal basis for disqualification,” she said in the court filing. “District Attorney Willis has no personal conflict of interest that justifies her disqualification personally or that of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.”
In an affidavit filed in court, Wade said he met Willis while presenting a training court for municipal court judges in October 2019. She later asked him to serve on her transition team and, in 2021, as the special prosecutor on the Trump case.
Wade said that in 2022, he and Willis “developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship.”
Willis stressed that there was no personal relationship between herself and Wade at the time he was appointed as special prosecutor in November 2021.
“Defendants have done nothing to establish an actual conflict of interest, nor have they shown that, in the handling of the case, District Attorney Willis or Special Prosecutor Wade have acted out of any personal or financial motivation,” she said.
Authorities charged Trump, Roman and 17 others with multiple alleged crimes, accusing them of racketeering in order to keep Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election. Four people — bail bondsman Scott Hall and attorneys Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis — have pleaded guilty to charges.
The former president and others charged in the case, including former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, have denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
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