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Trump judge orders Fani Willis to respond in wake of ethics allegations

By Mandy Donalds
|
January 22, 2024

Judge Scott McAfee, who presides over the Fulton County, Georgia, prosecution of former President Donald Trump and multiple co-defendants, has instructed District Attorney Fani Willis to provide a written response to accusations of her involvement in an improper relationship with one of the chief prosecutors, something which would allegedly breach ethical guidelines.

The judge has set a deadline for Willis to submit a response by Feb. 2, and a hearing on these allegations is scheduled for Feb. 15, as Politico reported.

Allegations of Improper Conduct

The root of these allegations stems from Mike Roman, an ex-official of Trump's campaign and a defendant in this case.

Roman's attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, lodged these claims, suggesting that Willis is engaged in a personal relationship with Wade, who was appointed as a "special prosecutor" for this case.

Merchant alleges, without substantiating evidence, that Willis and Wade have indulged in luxury trips funded by the earnings from Wade's role in this case.

She argues this situation breaches conflict of interest rules and warrants the disqualification of Willis and her team from the case.

Before his involvement in this investigation, Wade's professional background, as stated on his law firm's website, primarily covered areas unrelated to complex criminal prosecutions.

Response from DA Willis and Divorce Proceedings

In a recent address, Willis defended Wade's credentials but did not directly address the accusations of impropriety.

Just one day after joining the district attorney's team, Wade initiated divorce proceedings with his wife, to whom he had been married for over twenty years.

This divorce case has since become closely connected to the Trump legal matter, as Wade's spouse, Joycelyn Wade, has recently issued a subpoena to summon Willis to testify in the divorce proceedings.

Willis' Countermove and Legal Back-and-Forth

Willis, in a recent legal maneuver, sought to quash the subpoena for her deposition, arguing her non-involvement in Wade's divorce.

She labeled the subpoena as an attempt to "embarrass" and "harass" her.

Willis pointed out the simultaneous timing of the subpoena and Roman's allegations, suggesting coordination.

Her attorney, Cinque Axam, emphasized that Willis has no relevant information to contribute to the divorce case.

However, Willis' response did not directly address Roman's accusations of a personal relationship with Wade.

In a rebuttal, Merchant dismissed Willis' claims of a conspiracy and insisted on the importance of the questions raised by Roman.

Merchant criticized Willis' approach, framing it as an evasion tactic to avoid addressing the central issues raised by Roman.