Jan 31, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Lead prosecutor in Trump’s Georgia case dodges testimony on Willis allegations

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade speaking in an Atlanta courtroom on Jan. 12.

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade speaking in an Atlanta courtroom on Jan. 12. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage-Pool/Getty Images

The lead prosecutor in Georgia's 2020 election interference case against former President Trump dodged a hearing Wednesday where he likely would have had to testify about an alleged improper relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Why it matters: Unsubstantiated allegations that special prosecutor Nathan Wade had a relationship with Willis have jeopardized the high-profile case against the former president, who is seeking to have Willis and Wade disqualified and the charges tossed.

  • The hearing, in Wade's pending divorce case, was canceled late Tuesday after he reached a last-minute settlement with his estranged wife, multiple outlets reported. The arrangement staved off his testimony on the alleged relationship with Willis — for now.

Catch up quick: Mike Roman, a Republican political operative and a co-defendant in the Georgia case, first made public the accusations of an improper relationship and alleged financial misconduct between Wade and Willis in a court filing in early January.

  • After Roman's filing, Wade's estranged wife, Joycelyn Wade, divulged financial statements in a motion presented in the couple's divorce proceedings.
  • The statements show Wade purchased two airline trips to Miami and San Francisco with Willis during the election probe, the Washington Post reported.
  • Trump's legal team last week cited the allegations in a request to Judge Scott McAfee to dismiss the 13 counts against the former president in the sweeping racketeering case.
  • McAfee scheduled an evidentiary hearing over the claims for Feb. 15.

Of note: The judge in the Wades' divorce proceedings ordered that its case records be unsealed.

  • The documents released so far do not appear to provide additional evidence of the alleged relationship between Wade and Willis.
  • Joycelyn Wade's legal team had also sought Willis' testimony through a subpoena. That request was stayed by the judge overseeing the divorce case until after Nathan Wade testified.

The big picture: Willis has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations but has maintained that she hired Wade as an outside prosecutor in the election case because he qualified for the position.

  • Since he was hired, Wade has received roughly $650,000 in compensation from Willis' office, or a rate of roughly $250 an hour.
  • Former Georgia prosecutors previously told the New York Times that they did not find Wade's rate unusual.
  • Wade was not Willis' only outside hire in the election case. She also brought on an outside expert on racketeering law and a high-profile state homicide prosecutor.

Go deeper: Georgia state senator wants Fani Willis investigation

Go deeper