MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered court records to be made public in the divorce involving a special prosecutor hired in the election case against Donald Trump and others and accused of having an affair with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
The newly unsealed court records, however, didn’t include any references to the affair allegations that have roiled the case that charges Trump and 18 allies of working to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.
The judge ordered the unsealing of the divorce case involving special prosecutor Nathan Wade after a request brought by a defense attorney who alleges an inappropriate relationship between Willis and Wade. The judge also put off a final decision on whether Willis will have to sit for questioning in the divorce case, but delayed her deposition that had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Willis has defended her hiring of Wade, who has little prosecutorial experience, and has not directly denied a romantic relationship. She has accused Wade’s estranged wife of trying to obstruct her criminal election interference case against Trump and others by seeking to question her in the couple’s divorce proceedings.
The affair allegations threaten to taint the prosecution, with the Republican primary front-runner and others seizing on the claims to attack the case and Wade’s qualifications as a prosecutor. Trump has pleaded not guilty, denied any wrongdoing and called the charges politically motivated.
Willis was served with the subpoena to sit for a deposition in the divorce case the day that defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents former Trump campaign staffer and onetime White House aide Michael Roman, filed a motion earlier this month alleging the romantic relationship between Willis and Wade.
Documents filed in court show Wade bought plane tickets in Willis’ name, and Joycelyn Wade’s lawyer has argued there “appears to be no reasonable explanation for their travels apart from a romantic relationship.” Joycelyn’s Wade’s lawyer, Andrea Dyer Hastings, told the judge on Monday that they believe Willis has some “unique personal knowledge” related to the divorce case and should be subject to questioning.
“She’s trying to hide under the shield of her position,” Hastings said of Willis.
Cinque Axam, a lawyer for Willis, said the issue before the court is how to divide the marital assets, and the determination of how that should be done has nothing to do with Willis, who doesn’t share any accounts with Nathan Wade and doesn’t determine how he spends money.
During a brief hearing in the Cobb County Superior Court, Judge Henry Thompson said he can’t rule on whether Willis should have to sit for a deposition in the divorce case until after Wade himself is questioned later this month. In ruling that court documents in the divorce case must be made public, he said a previous judge improperly ordered the case to be sealed without holding a hearing.
Joycelyn Wade’s lawyer wrote in court papers filed Friday that Nathan Wade has taken trips to San Francisco and Napa Valley, Florida, Belize, Panama and Australia and has take
n Caribbean cruises since filing for divorce and that Willis “was an intended travel partner for at least some of these trips as indicated by flights he purchased for her to accompany him.”
The filing includes credit card statements that show Nathan Wade — after he had been hired as special prosecutor — bought plane tickets in October 2022 for him and Willis to travel to Miami and bought tickets in April to San Francisco in their names.
It’s one of four cases Trump is facing as he vies to return to the White House. Prosecutors are using a statute normally associated with mobsters to accuse the former president, lawyers and other aides of a “criminal enterprise” to keep him in power. Four people have already pleaded guilty in the Georgia election case after reaching deals with prosecutors. The remaining 15, including Trump and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty.
Richer reported from Boston.