In a court filing on Friday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis acknowledged her connection with a lawyer she had chosen to handle the prosecution of former President Donald Trump. However, she firmly refuted any claims that this relationship had any influence on the case.
Up until that point, Willis had neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the affair, nor had she addressed the potential impact it may have had on the proceedings.
Should Willis decide to step down or recuse herself from the case, it could potentially bring an end to the county’s prosecution of Trump or even lead to a delay in the proceedings until after the presidential election. Republicans have accused Willis of meddling in the election process.
Willis and Nathan Wade, the top prosecutor, have been accused of corruption by Trump for:
– Maintaining an improper romantic relationship
– Enriching themselves through the taxpayer-funded prosecution
– Meeting with Biden administration officials before indicting Trump and codefendants
Willis contended that the accusations lack substance and are scandalous, and urged the judge to dismiss the motion filed by Trump and his codefendants, which would effectively undermine her lawsuit. Willis’s filing states:
“District Attorney Willis has no financial conflict of interest that constitutes a legal basis for disqualification;”
“District Attorney Willis has no personal conflict of interest that justifies her disqualification personally or that of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office;”
“The attacks on Special Prosecutor Wade’s qualifications are factually inaccurate, unsupported, and malicious, in addition to providing no basis whatsoever to dismiss the indictment or disqualify Special Prosecutor Wade;”
“Criticism of the process utilized to appoint and compensate the special prosecutors in this case demonstrates basic misunderstandings of rudimentary county and state regulations, and provides no legal basis for dismissal of the indictment or disqualification of any member of the prosecution.”
In January, the Georgia judge mandated that Willis must provide a written “response” to the corruption allegations by February 2. Consequently, Willis will be compelled to address the accusations on live television on February 15.
The Washington Post reported:
“Ashleigh Merchant, Roman’s attorney, has said she plans to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents to back up her client’s claims of misconduct. Merchant said in a lawsuit this week that she has subpoenaed Willis and Wade to testify, and she is expected to seek testimony from Wade’s current and former law partners and others associated with the district attorney’s office.
“Until now, neither Willis nor Wade had directly addressed or denied the allegations. Bank records made public as part of Wade’s divorce proceedings showed Wade purchased plane tickets for himself and Willis on two occasions — a trip to Aruba purchased in October 2022 on American Airlines, and a second trip purchased in April 2023 to San Francisco on Delta Air Lines. It is unclear if Willis reimbursed Wade for the tickets or went on the trips. A spokesman for Willis has declined to comment. Wade has not responded to requests for comment, and his divorce attorney has declined to comment.
“Merchant has told The Washington Post the claims against Willis and Wade were based on sources that she did not name as well as records she said had been disclosed as part of Wade’s divorce proceedings but were under seal. While some documents from the divorce were subsequently made public, discovery materials were not, including Wade’s bank statements and subpoenaed records from the district attorney’s office.”
In addition to Roman’s actions, there are ongoing efforts to investigate Willis’s behavior. On January 26, the Georgia State Senate approved the initiation of an investigation with the power of a subpoena. Although this probe does not have the authority to remove her from office, the hearings could potentially bring embarrassment to her.
On January 12, 2024, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) initiated an investigation into Willis. The investigation focuses on her acceptance of over $14.6 million in grant funds from the Department of Justice (DOJ) between 2020 and 2023. The timeline of the funding suggests that the DOJ provided federal funds to support the prosecution of Trump. When Jordan requested documents from Willis, she refused to comply, leading the Ohio congressman to issue a subpoena against her on Friday.
On Monday, members of the Georgia House passed a bill to establish a committee aimed at removing Willis from office. Governor Brian Kemp (R) supports this approach, as he opposed the launch of a criminal investigation into Willis. Kemp dismissed the complaint made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), which sought the dismissal of charges against Trump.