Georgia judge rules Fulton County DA may remain on 2020 election interference case News
Georgia judge rules Fulton County DA may remain on 2020 election interference case

The Georgia judge overseeing the state’s 2020 election interference case decided on Friday that the district attorney leading the case, Fani Willis, must either step aside or remove a special prosecutor appointed to the case, Nathan Wade. The decision comes after the two were accused of having an intimate relationship. Judge Scott McAfee found that the case against former US President Donald Trump and his co-defendants cannot move forward until Willis makes a decision.

One of Trump’s co-defendants, former Trump campaign staffer and White House aide Michael Roman, filed a motion to disqualify Willis from the case on January 9, citing an alleged relationship between Willis and Wade. The motion alleged Willis and Wade “traveled together on multiple vacations with Wade covering many of the associated expenses.” Roman argued that this created a potential conflict of interest for the prosecution team since Willis had personally hired Wade as a special prosecutor to work on the case.

Willis and Wade later acknowledged their relationship, but claimed it began after Wade was hired to the team in 2021.

McAfee admonished Willis in his ruling, calling the situation a “tremendous lapse in judgment.” While McAfee found there was no conflict of interest in the prosecution, the relationship made the prosecution “encumbered by an appearance of impropriety.”

The judge also criticized Willis for a speech she gave at a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr. on January 14. In the speech, Willis referred to “so many others” and repeatedly used the plural “they” when referring to those who questioned her hiring of Wade. McAfee found the speech “did include Defendant Roman and his council within its ambit, whether intentional or not.”

The case centers around an alleged effort by Trump and his 18 co-defendants—four of which have since entered guilty pleas—to keep election officials from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in favor of Biden. The prosecution alleges that Trump and his co-defendants attempted to exert influence over Georgia legislators, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—who was on the receiving end of an infamous phone call in which Trump requested state election officials find him enough votes to overcome Biden’s electoral lead in the state. The prosecution also alleges that the defendants harassed Georgia election workers, created and disseminated a false slate of electors, stole election data from the state, and obstructed the very investigation that led to the indictment.