Fulton County judge sets hearing over allegation DA Fani Willis had improper relationship with prosecutor

The evidentiary hearing is set for Feb. 15 in Atlanta.

January 18, 2024, 5:01 PM

The Fulton County judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump has set a hearing to hear evidence over allegations from one of the co-defendants in the case that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was having an improper relationship with a prosecutor she brought in for the case.

The hearing is set for Feb. 15 in Atlanta.

The hearing order comes before the Fulton County DA's office has filed any response to the allegations. The judge's order directs the DA's office to respond by Feb. 2.

Michael Roman, one of former President Donald Trump's co-defendants in the election interference case, is seeking to dismiss the indictment against him and disqualify Willis, alleging she "engaged in a personal, romantic relationship" with one of the top prosecutors she brought in to work on the case, which allegedly resulted in financial gain for both of them.

In a court filing earlier this month, Roman, a former Trump campaign staff member, accused Willis of having potentially committed "an act to defraud the public of honest services" based on her "intentional failure" to disclose the alleged relationship that she allegedly "personally benefitted from."

The 127-page filing from Roman's attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, alleged the prosecutor, Nathan Wade, has a "lack of relevant experience" but has been paid approximately $650,000 in legal fees since being appointed to the role -- which the filing claims was a "self-serving arrangement." Trump's attorney said in court on Friday that they're considering joining in the complaint against Willis.

Speaking on Sunday at the Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service, Willis defended Wade's credentials in emotional remarks that appeared to acknowledge the allegations leveled against her but never directly addressed them.

During her remarks of more than 30 minutes, which were livestreamed, Willis never denied or directly addressed the allegations she and Wade had an inappropriate relationship.

Trump, Roman, and 17 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Scott Hall subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

The former president has blasted the district attorney's investigation as being politically motivated.

The setting of the hearing date came on the same day that Willis filed a motion seeking to quash a deposition subpoena she received last week as part of Wade's divorce proceedings.

Willis, in the filing, claims that her deposition, which is currently scheduled for next week, would be "outside the scope of discovery" in the divorce matter and amounts to an "attempt to harass and damage her professional reputation" while "obstructing and interfering with an ongoing criminal prosecution."