Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks at a press conference next to prosecutor Nathan Wade after a Grand Jury brought back indictments against former president Donald Trump and his allies in their attempt to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 14, 2023.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters
A top prosecutor on Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal election case against Donald Trump said Friday they developed a “personal relationship” after he joined her team — but both he and Willis denied that caused a conflict of interest.
The prosecutor, Nathan Wade, in a sworn affidavit also denied allegations that he or Willis have financially benefited from the romantic relationship, as was alleged by one of Trump’s co-defendants.
Willis in the same Fulton County court filing rejected accusations that the relationship warrants dismissing the indictment or disqualifying her from the case. And she slammed the attacks on Wade as “factually inaccurate, unsupported, and malicious.”
Willis and Wade “have been professional associates and friends since 2019,” the D.A. said, but had “no personal relationship” in November 2021, when Wade became special prosecutor in the case.
Trump, in a Truth Social post Friday afternoon, said Willis’ admission of a “sexual relationship” with Wade means that the case is “totally discredited.”
But Willis wrote that the defendants have offered no evidence that her personal relationship with Wade, which began in 2022, impacted their “exercise of any prosecutorial discretion.”
Trump and more than a dozen others were charged with conspiracy last year related to their efforts to overturn the former president’s 2020 election loss in Georgia to President Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 13 criminal charges in the case in Fulton County Superior Court.
It remains to be seen if a judge finds that Willis’ relationship with Wade is a conflict that will require one or both of them to step aside from the prosecutions.
But the D.A. even before Friday was facing criticism that her suspected relationship with him risked undermining public confidence in her and her case against the former president and his alleged co-conspirators.
Michael Roman, one of Trump’s co-defendants, in mid-January sought to dismiss his charges on the grounds that Willis and Wade were “engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship” during the case.
The Jan. 8 filing accused them of “profiting personally from this prosecution at Fulton County’s expense,” claiming Wade has been paid almost $1 million in legal fees since his appointment as special prosecutor despite being unqualified for the job.
The filing cited Wade’s divorce proceedings, which were under seal at the time, saying they showed him and Willis traveling together to “vacation destinations” and buying cruise tickets.
Roman’s attorney Ashleigh Merchant also cited unnamed sources who said Wade and Willis began their relationship before the election case began.
Wade’s affidavit, dated Thursday, pushed back on those allegations.
“There was no personal relationship between District Attorney Willis and me prior to or at the time of my appointment as special prosecutor in 2021,” Wade wrote.
“I have no financial interest in the outcome of the 2020 election interference case or in the conviction of any defendant,” he wrote. “No funds paid to me in compensation for my role as Special Prosecutor have been shared with or provided to District Attorney Willis.”
Willis “received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as Special Prosecutor,” he wrote.
Wade also denied ever living with Willis or sharing household expenses with her.
“The District Attorney and I are both financially independent professionals; expenses for personal travel were roughly divided equally between us,” he wrote.
“At times I have made and purchased travel for District Attorney Willis and myself from my personal funds. At other times District Attorney Willis has made and purchased travel for she and I from her personal funds.”
Merchant did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
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