Trump co-defendent seeks disqualification of Georgia prosecutor from 2020 election interference case – JURIST

The Georgia judge overseeing the state’s 2020 election interference case against former US President Donald Trump and his alleged co-conspirators agreed Thursday to hear a motion to disqualify the lead prosecutor from the case. On February 15, Judge Scott McAfee will hear a challenge from one of Trump’s co-conspirators seeking to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis following allegations that Willis is romantically involved with another one of the prosecutors on the case.

In his motion to dismiss the charges against him and disqualify Willis, former Trump campaign staffer and White House aide Michael Roman claimed, “[T]he entire prosecution is invalid and unconstitutional because [Willis] never had legal authority to appoint the special prosecutor, who assisted in obtaining both grand jury indictments.” The special prosecutor in question is Nathan Wade, who joined the prosecution against Trump and his 18 co-conspirators early in the case.

Roman accused Willis and Wade of engaging in “an improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case.” He alleged that this all amounts to a conflict of interest, prosecutorial misconduct and an attempt by Willis to personally profit from the case “at the expense of the taxpayer.” Roman claimed that funds allocated to Fulton County to help clear a backlog of cases from the COVID-19 pandemic were allegedly re-routed by Willis to hire Wade to assist in the prosecution against Trump and his co-conspirators.

Roman also alleged that Willis and Wade began their romantic affair prior to the prosecution. Because of this, Roman claimed:

[T]he district attorney’s personal relationship to the special prosecutor prior to his appointment as the special prosecutor, his appointment created an impermissible and irreparable conflict of interest under Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires the disqualification of both lawyers.

In supporting his motion, however, Roman never cites to any concrete evidence of financial wrongdoing by Willis or Wade. Instead, Roman cited to “information obtained outside of court filings” and “[s]ources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney.”

Willis has yet to formally respond to Roman’s allegations. McAfee gave Willis until February 2 to file a response to Roman’s motion.

Though it was not a formal response, Willis defended her hiring of Wade at a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr. on January 14. Appearing before the Big Bethel AME Church congregation, Willis referred to Wade as a “superstar, a great friend and a great lawyer.” Willis also spoke about the pressures of the case and revealed that she regularly receives death threats and taunts with racial slurs.

McAfee will hold a hearing on the matter in an Atlanta courtroom on February 15 at 9:30 AM local time.

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