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What Fani Willis controversy means for major lawsuit against Trump

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Should Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis step aside from the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others?

Even some of District Attorney Willis’ supporters are weighing that question in the wake of accusations that she had a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, an attorney hired to help run the Trump prosecution.

Why We Wrote This

In Georgia, details of a district attorney’s relationship with a prosecutor she hired have sparked calls for her to step aside. The situation complicates a high-stakes lawsuit against Donald Trump.

A co-defendant in the case made the allegation in a court filing earlier this month. Ms. Willis has not yet directly addressed the situation.

One legal expert who has followed the case closely says that he has not seen any evidence so far that should lead to Ms. Willis’ disqualification.

“The whole thing is a bad look and the office’s silence is doing Willis no favors, but without more evidence I do not see any immediate need for Fani Willis to step aside,” says Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor in constitutional law at Georgia State University College of Law.

Regardless, as a political matter the alleged affair could play into Mr. Trump’s larger goal of depicting all prosecutions against him as corrupt and motivated by animus against him. 

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has ordered Ms. Willis to respond to the allegation by the Trump co-defendant by Feb. 2.

Should Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis step aside from the sweeping Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others?

Even some of District Attorney Willis’ supporters are weighing that question in the wake of accusations that she had a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, an attorney she hired to help run the Trump prosecution.

A co-defendant in the case made the allegation in a court filing earlier this month. Credit card statements included in a separate filing in Mr. Wade’s ongoing divorce case show that he bought airline tickets for himself and Ms. Willis on at least two occasions.

Why We Wrote This

In Georgia, details of a district attorney’s relationship with a prosecutor she hired have sparked calls for her to step aside. The situation complicates a high-stakes lawsuit against Donald Trump.

Ms. Willis has not yet directly addressed the situation. The case, while in state rather than federal court, involves some of the most consequential criminal indictments facing Mr. Trump – focusing around his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

One legal expert who has followed the case closely says that he has not yet seen any evidence that should lead to Ms. Willis’ disqualification. It appears more a political issue about how public money is spent, and less a conflict of interest that would prejudice any of the 2020 election defendants, says Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor in constitutional law and political scientist at Georgia State University College of Law.

“The whole thing is a bad look and the office’s silence is doing Willis no favors, but without more evidence I do not see any immediate need for Fani Willis to step aside,” says Professor Kreis in an email.



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