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Co-defendant in Trump’s Georgia election case seeks to disqualify DA, alleging romantic relationship with prosecutor

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(ATLANTA) — One of former president Donald Trump’s co-defendants in his Georgia election interference case is seeking to dismiss the indictment against him and disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, alleging that she “engaged in a personal, romantic relationship” with one of the top prosecutors she brought in to work on the case, which allegedly resulted in financial gain for both of them.


In a court filing Monday, former Trump campaign staff member Michael Roman accuses Willis of having potentially committed “an act to defraud the public of honest services” based on her “intentional failure” to disclose the alleged relationship that she allegedly “personally benefitted from.”

“Accordingly, the district attorney and the special prosecutor have violated laws regulating the use of public monies, suffer from irreparable conflicts of interest, and have violated their oaths of office under the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and should be disqualified from prosecuting this matter,” the 127-page filing from Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, said.

A spokesperson for the Fulton County DA said in a statement to ABC News that the office would “respond through appropriate court filings.”

The filing alleges that, based on “discussions with individuals with knowledge,” Willis and a special prosecutor she brought in to lead the case, Nathan Wade, were “romantically involved” prior to her bringing him on to the case and continued their relationship during it, and accuses Willis of bringing Wade on as a special prosecutor without getting proper government authorization to appoint him as such.

“Sources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney have confirmed they had an ongoing, personal relationship during the pendency of the special prosecutor’s divorce proceedings,” the filing says.

The filing claims that Wade had a “lack of relevant experience” but that he has been paid approximately $650,000 in legal fees since being appointed to the role — which the filing claims was a “self-serving arrangement.”

“Willis has benefitted substantially and directly, and continues to benefit, from this litigation because Wade is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute this case on her behalf,” the filing claims. “In turn, Wade is taking Willis on, and paying for vacations across the world with money he is being paid by the Fulton County taxpayers and authorized solely by Willis.”

Trump seized on the allegations in the filing, writing on social media, “ALL CHARGES AGAINST ME, AND OTHERS, SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY DROPPED, WITH APOLOGIES, AND MONETARY DAMAGES FOR THE ILLEGAL AND HIGHLY POLITICAL PERSECUTION OF INNOCENT PEOPLE.”

Chris Timmons, a former Georgia prosecutor who is now an ABC News contributor, said that, “After preliminary review, I don’t think it puts the indictment in jeopardy — but it might result in some disqualification of prosecutors moving forward.”

Roman, Trump and 17 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jena Ellis and Scott Hall subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

The former president has blasted the district attorney’s investigation as being politically motivated.

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