Judge in Trump Election Case Says Fani Willis Could Be Disqualified

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis (Getty Images)
February 12, 2024

The judge in the Georgia election interference case against former president Donald Trump said Monday that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis could face disqualification from the case due to alleged misconduct.

Willis has faced accusations from Mike Roman, a codefendant of Trump's who has attempted to have the case dismissed, that she engaged in a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she appointed to the case. Earlier this month, Willis and Wade admitted that they did have a personal relationship, but they claimed that it began after the latter's appointment in 2021.

"I think it's clear that disqualification can occur if evidence is produced demonstrating an actual conflict or the appearance of one," Judge Scott McAfee said at a hearing to determine whether Willis and Wade will have to testify themselves about the allegations, according to ABC News. "The state has admitted a relationship existed. And so what remains to be proven is the existence and extent of any financial benefit, again if there even was one. And so because I think it's possible that the facts alleged by the defendant could result in disqualification, I think an evidentiary hearing must occur to establish the record on those core allegations."

"I think the issues at point here are whether a relationship existed, whether that relationship was romantic or non-romantic in nature, when it formed, and whether it continues," McAfee continued. "And that's only relevant because it's in combination with the question of the existence and extent of any personal benefit conveyed as a result of their relationship."

Willis and Wade have fought subpoenas for them to testify at a Thursday evidentiary hearing. Anna Cross, a Fulton County prosecutor, told the judge the duo's testimonies would not support Roman's allegations.

"The defense is bringing you gossip ... and the court should not condone that practice," Cross said.

Roman's lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant, however, has said that Wade's former associate, Terrence Bradley, can testify that a romantic relationship began prior to Wade's appointment.

McAfee said Willis likely will not be the first witness called Thursday and that there were "procedural hurdles" to overcome before she would testify.

McAfee's assessment comes about two weeks after the Washington Free Beacon reported that Willis fired an employee in her office who had previously warned her about potential mismanagement of federal grant funds by another person who worked there.