Georgia Judge Needs More Time To Decide Fate Of Trump Prosecutor Fani Willis

The Georgia judge overseeing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ election subversion case against former President Donald Trump has said he expects to decide within the next two weeks whether Willis and her office may continue to prosecute it.

Attorneys for Trump and other co-defendants accused Willis of corruption, saying she improperly hired attorney Nathan Wade as one of three special prosecutors in the sprawling racketeering suit. Willis and Wade admitted to having a past romantic relationship in January.

“I think it’s been very much made clear by the argument made today that there are several legal issues to sort through, several factual determinations I have to make, and those aren’t ones I can make at this moment,” Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee said Friday after listening to closing arguments from both sides. “And so I will be taking the time to make sure that I give this case full consideration its due.”

Willis has forcefully defended herself from accusations of impropriety.

John Merchant, an attorney for co-defendant Michael Roman, argued that the district attorney hired “her boyfriend” and paid him with public funds; thus when the pair had taken trips together, Merchant suggested it had been on the public’s dime.

“She put her boyfriend in the spot, paid him, and then reaped the benefits of it,” Merchant said Friday.

Roman is a Republican opposition researcher who worked on Trump’s failed 2020 presidential campaign.

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on Feb. 27.
Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on Feb. 27.

Brynn Anderson-Pool via Getty Images

Willis maintained that she and Wade split costs evenly throughout their relationship, which she said began in the spring of 2022 — after she’d hired Wade, in November 2021. (The relationship ended last summer, Willis said.)

When the relationship started has been a main source of contention, as defendants’ attorneys claim that it began in 2019, long before Willis hired Wade.

“They knew it was wrong, they hid it, and even when they were called out on it they tried to create an excuse for it by saying it happened after the fact,” Merchant said.

McAfee hinted at the questions he considers to be outstanding during an exchange with Fulton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Adam Abbate.

“The original and the core financial allegations — there is a relationship, and money has changed hands. There is maybe still an open question of where the ledger stands, but I think it was conceded that the balance could run in the district attorney’s favor,” McAfee told Abbate.

“It’s no longer just a theory that money changed hands, it’s no longer just speculation and conjecture,” the judge added.

Abbate responded to say that “whether the money had any financial benefit or gain to the district attorney that is all speculation and conjecture.”

“Absolutely all speculation and conjecture,” Abbate emphasized.

The defendants’ attorneys argued before the judge that a former college friend of Willis vouched for the idea the Willis-Wade relationship began earlier than admitted.

Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for Roman who is married to John Merchant, alleged that a text message from Wade’s former law partner, Terrence Bradley, further proved that point. But Bradley only proved to be an ineffective witness. He evaded questions on the stand earlier this week, saying that he had just been “speculating” in the text message when he said he “absolutely” thought Willis began dating Wade before she hired him.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that contradicts that the relationship did not begin around March 2022,” Abbate told the judge Friday.

“There’s no evidence that [the defendants’] due process rights have been harmed in any way,” Abbate went on. “Not a single shred of evidence that was produced showed… how their due process rights were at all affected.”

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