Special Prosecutor in Trump Case Resigns, Allowing Fani Willis to Continue Prosecuting The Case

Special Prosecutor in Trump Case Resigns, Allowing Fani Willis to Continue Prosecuting The Case

A Fulton County judge ruled Friday that District Attorney Fani Willis and her whole office can either step aside from the 2020 election interference case or the special prosecutor who was involved in a romantic relationship with Willis can withdraw from the case.

And by Friday afternoon, the special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, had submitted his resignation, WSB-TV first reported.

“The Court therefore concludes that the prosecution of this case cannot proceed until the State selects one of two options,” Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee wrote in his highly anticipated ruling Friday morning. 

“The District Attorney may choose to step aside, along with the whole of her office, and refer the prosecution to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council for reassignment … Alternatively, SADA (Nathan) Wade can withdraw, allowing the District Attorney, the Defendants, and the public to move forward without his presence or remuneration distracting from and potentially compromising the merits of this case.”

Defense attorneys had claimed Willis gave her boyfriend Wade a lucrative contract funded by taxpayers to be the lead prosecutor in the election case. Wade spent thousands of dollars on the couple’s travel to take vacations together on cruises out of the country, weekend trips out of state and other expenses, according to credit card receipts that fueled a dramatic twist in the court case against Trump and his allies.

Willis and Wade testified at a hearing on Feb. 15 that their romantic relationship began several months after he was hired for the case and ended last summer. Willis testified under oath that she paid for her share of travel costs in cash.

Wade has been paid about $700,000 since being appointed as special prosecutor in November 2021. 

“Although the court found that ‘the defendants failed to meet their burden of proving that the District Attorney acquired an actual conflict of interest,’ I am offering my resignation in the interest of democracy, in dedication to the American public, and move this case forward as quickly as possible,” Wade wrote in his resignation letter, according to WSB.

Friday’s 23-page ruling is in response to a motion filed in January by one of the lesser-known defendants, former Trump campaign official Michael Roman, who sought to have the indictment dismissed and the DA’s office disqualified from prosecuting the case.

The judge held a hearing in February that was nationally watched and featured surprise testimony from Willis, who offered a fiery defense of her actions.

But while McAfee ultimately concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove a conflict of interest, he said there is a “significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team.”

“This finding is by no means an indication that the Court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment or the unprofessional manner of the District Attorney’s testimony during the evidentiary hearing,” McAfee wrote.

“Rather, it is the undersigned’s opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices – even repeatedly – and it is the trial court’s duty to confine itself to the relevant issues and applicable law properly brought before it.”

Willis’ office has not yet indicated how it will respond, but Trump’s lead defense counsel Steve Sadow issued a statement Friday morning expressing disappointment in the ruling.

“We will use all legal options available as we continue to fight to end this case, which should never have been brought in the first place,” Sadow said.

In August, a grand jury levied felony charges against Trump and 18 other allies on accusations that they illegally conspired to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. The former president as well as the remaining 14 co-defendants have pleaded not guilty, while four of the initial co-defendants have accepted plea agreements.

The outcome of the landmark case could factor into Willis’ bid for a second term as district attorney as she finds herself under a much brighter spotlight than when she won against Paul Howard in 2020.

Even with the judge’s ruling in Willis’ favor, the motion to dismiss has delayed the case by more than two months, complicating Willis’ attempt to start the trial by August, ahead of Trump’s expected rematch with Biden on Nov. 5.

Trump attorney, Steve Sadow, has indicated in an earlier court hearing that the defense attorneys plan to appeal if McAfee allowed Willis to remain on the case.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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