Donald Trump has joined an existing legal effort to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the Georgia election interference case against the former president and his 18 co-defendants, accusing her of having an improper romantic relationship and injecting “racial animus” into the probe.
In a Thursday complaint, Trump’s legal team accused Willis of violating her prosecutorial responsibilities, citing the unsubstantiated allegation that she hired someone she was romantically involved with to be the case’s lead special prosecutor.
The complaint comes after a motion that was filed earlier this month by Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer and one of the criminal racketeering case’s co-defendants. Roman alleged that Willis had an improper relationship with Georgia prosecutor Nathan Wade when she hired him to lead the case, and that she financially benefited from the move.
After Roman’s allegations — which did not include concrete evidence of such a relationship — a judge on Monday ordered the unsealing of court records in divorce proceedings between Wade and his estranged wife. Financial statements showed that Wade purchased flights to San Francisco and Miami, Florida, with Willis during the election probe. The documents publicly released so far do not provide additional evidence of a possible affair or any financial misconduct.
Willis has not directly denied having a romantic relationship with Wade, but filed a motion last week that said his estranged wife had “conspired with interested parties” in the election case and was “obstructing and interfering with an ongoing criminal prosecution.”
In addition to Roman’s claims, Trump lawyer Steve Sadow has accused Willis, who is Black, of “falsely and intentionally injecting race into this case” after she spoke at Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church on Jan. 14.
In her speech at the church, the district attorney had defended her decision to hire Wade, who is also Black.
“I appointed three special counselors,” Willis said at the time. “It’s my right to do, paid them all the same hourly rate. They only attack one. I hired one white woman, a good personal friend and a great lawyer, a superstar, I tell you. I hired one white man — brilliant — my friend and a great lawyer. And I hired one Black man, another superstar.”
Willis has said that she’s faced racist criticism since indicting Trump. The district attorney said that she and her family have been doxxed by the former president’s supporters, and that the case has taken a toll on her personal and professional life.
“First thing they say: ‘Oh, she’s gonna play the race card now,’” she said at the historically Black church. “Isn’t it them playing the race card when they constantly think I need someone from some other jurisdiction in some other state to tell me how to do a job I’ve been doing almost 30 years?”
In Thursday’s filing, Sadow said that Willis is trying to “foment racial animus and prejudice against the defendants in order to divert and deflect attention away from her alleged improprieties.”
Both Trump and Roman asked a judge to disqualify Willis from the case, though the former president is also seeking to disqualify the special prosecutors she hired and the entire Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Roman asked the judge to drop the seven felony counts against him, and Trump asked to have all 13 counts against him dropped, including alleged violations of Georgia’s racketeering law.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the racketeering case, has scheduled an evidentiary hearing on Roman’s allegations for Feb. 15.