Fani Willis Fights Back in Hearing to Disqualify Her from Trump Trial

February 15, 2024
2 mins read
Fani Willis Fights Back in Hearing to Disqualify Her from Trump Trial

A combative Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis denied Thursday that her romantic relationship with the special prosecutor she hired to pursue election interference charges against Donald Trump affected the case.

“I’m not on trial,” Willis testified in federal court during an evidentiary hearing on a motion to disqualify her from the case, as she gestured toward a group of lawyers representing Trump and other defendants. “These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020.”

Trump and 18 co-defendants were indicted last August on racketeering charges for allegedly taking part in a conspiracy to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Trump in Georgia in November 2020.

One of those co-defendants, Michael Roman, filed a motion last month claiming Willis was engaged in a romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade. The motion, which Trump later joined, went on to allege that Willis benefited financially from the relationship through trips she and Wade took financed with Fulton County taxpayer money.

Willis filed a response to Roman’s motion earlier this month, acknowledging the romantic relationship but arguing it does not constitute grounds for disqualifying her from the case.

A key point in contention during Thursday’s daylong hearing was when the relationship started. Robin Yeartie, a former friend of Willis who worked as an executive assistance to the district attorney, testified Thursday that Willis and Wade began dating in 2019 shortly after meeting at a conference.

But under cross-examination, Yeartie revealed that she had a falling out with Willis in March of 2022 that led to Yeartie resigning from the district attorney’s office.

“A situation happened that wasn’t my fault,” Yeartie said. “I was either going to resign or be let go.”

Both Willis and Wade, who also testified on Thursday, said their romantic relationship started much later, in early 2022 after Wade was hired in late 2021.

Both were asked extensively about several trips they took together to Belize, on a cruise to the Bahamas, and to California’s Napa Valley. Wade said he paid for all of the trips except the trip to Belize – which Willis paid for as a birthday gift to Wade – but that she always reimbursed him with cash to cover her portion of the expenses.

“She is a proud, independent woman,” Wade said. “She’s going to pay her way.”

“I don’t need any man to foot my bills,” Willis added later when it was her turn on the witness stand.

Lawyers representing Roman, Trump, and several other defendants were openly skeptical that Willis repaid Wade with cash for her portion of their trips without either having records to back up their testimony. But Willis said she always has kept cash around on the advice of her father.

Willis also defended her decision not to tell any of the members of her prosecution team that she was involved in a romantic relationship with Wade.

“I am extremely private,” she said. “I didn’t tell my business to the world.”

Willis said her romantic relationship with Wade ended last summer, although the two remain good friends.

While Willis was required to testify at Thursday’s hearing in response to a subpoena, she said she was anxious to tell her side of the story.

“I’m not a hostile witness,” she said. “I very much want to be here.”

The hearing before U.S. District Judge Scott McAfee will continue Friday.

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