Judge rules Fani Willis must step aside from Trump case or fire special prosecutor Nathan Wade

Posted 29 days ago

From WWW.FOXNEWS.COM

A Georgia judge has ruled that embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis must either step aside from the case against former President Donald Trump or fire special prosecutor Nathan Wade.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee issued the ruling after hearing evidence presented by lawyers for the co-defendants in the sweeping 2020 election interference case. Four co-defendants accused Willis of having an "improper" affair with Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the case.

McAfee said that the defendants "failed to meet their burden of proving that the District Attorney acquired an actual conflict of interest in this case through her personal relationship and recurring travels with her lead prosecutor."

"However, the established record now highlights a significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team – an appearance that must be removed through the State’s selection of one of two options," he wrote, adding that Willis and her whole office can choose to step aside, or Wade can withdraw from the case.

McAfee said that "[w]ithout sufficient evidence that the District Attorney acquired a personal stake in the prosecution, or that her financial arrangements had any impact on the case, the Defendants’ claims of an actual conflict must be denied."

But he went on to say that his finding is "by no means an indication that the Court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment or the unprofessional manner of the District Attorney’s testimony during the evidentiary hearing."

"Rather, it is the undersigned’s opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices – even repeatedly – and it is the trial court’s duty to confine itself to the relevant issues and applicable law properly brought before it," he siad.

"Other forums or sources of authority such as the General Assembly, the Georgia State Ethics Commission, the State Bar of Georgia, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, or the voters of Fulton County may offer feedback on any unanswered questions that linger. But those are not the issues determinative to the Defendants’ motions alleging an actual conflict," he added.

The co-defendants had alleged that Willis benefited financially by hiring Wade because they were in a pre-existing relationship when he was hired in 2021 and would vacation together.

Both Wade and Willis denied they were in a romantic relationship prior to his hiring and that the couple would split the costs of their shared travels; Willis said she reimbursed Wade for her share of the trips in cash.

In his Friday order, McAfee said while Willis' "reimbursement practice" was "unusual and the lack of any documentary corroboration understandably concerning," he ultimately decided that the defendants did not present "sufficient evidence" that expenses weren't "roughly divided evenly."

He also said that "the evidence demonstrated that the financial gain flowing from her relationship with Wade was not a motivating factor on the part of the District Attorney to indict and prosecute this case."

Last month, Judge McAfee held a two-day evidentiary hearing where the defense, led by attorney Ashley Merchant, set out to expose a money trail that would mean Willis has a conflict of interest in the case against Trump and should be disqualified.... (Read more)