By Zachary Cohen, Jason Morris and Nick Valencia, CNN
(CNN) — Fani Willis, the district attorney spearheading the Georgia racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and his associates stemming from their actions following the 2020 election, has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in her lead prosecutor’s divorce proceedings.
According to a court document obtained by CNN, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis received a witness subpoena earlier this week to appear at a deposition for the divorce of Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom Willis brought in to oversee the Trump case in late 2021.
In a bid to get the criminal case dismissed, one of Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election subversion case alleged without direct evidence in a court filing Monday that Willis improperly hired Wade, who was her romantic partner, to help prosecute the case and has financially benefitted from his appointment. The co-defendant’s lawyer argues the arrangement is a conflict of interest that disqualifies Wade, Willis and her office.
While the issue may not ultimately derail the prosecution, it raises questions and a potential optics problem for Willis. This scrutiny over her alleged relationship comes as the district attorney has faced a barrage of violent threats as well as political attacks. Trump and his allies have already seized on the recent allegation in a bid to discredit the RICO case, with the former president claiming Willis is “compromised.”
Willis’ office declined to comment on the subpoena to appear as part of Wade’s divorce proceedings. Pallavi Bailey, a spokesperson for the district attorney, told CNN earlier this week that her office will respond to Roman’s allegations “through appropriate court filings.”
Wade has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment. The divorce lawyer representing his wife declined to comment.
The allegations came shortly before a deadline to submit motions in the case from attorneys for Trump co-defendant Michael Roman, a Trump 2020 campaign official. They claimed that Willis had a “clandestine” relationship with Nathan Wade.
Roman’s lawyers say in the filing that Wade filed for divorce in Cobb County Superior Court in November 2021, one day after his first contract with Willis’ office commenced, and that those proceedings were sealed in February 2022.
“The special prosecutor is seeking a divorce in Cobb County and sought successfully to seal those records, hiding them from public view,” Roman’s lawyers wrote.
The filing doesn’t include direct evidence of an improper relationship between Willis and Wade. The attorneys say in the filing that unnamed “sources close to both the special prosecutor and the district attorney have confirmed they had an ongoing, personal relationship.”
In the filing, the attorneys allege Willis “violated her own county’s ethical standards and created an impermissible conflict of interest” when she hired Wade as a special prosecutor in the Georgia case “without obtaining approval prior to appointing him.” They allege Willis “never had legal authority to appoint” Wade and bypassed normal procedures for such hires.
The attorneys also say Wade is being paid far more than other prosecutors in her office and that they used the money to take vacations together to Napa Valley, Florida and the Caribbean.
“Wade is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute this case on her behalf,” the attorneys write in the filing. “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.”
In addition, they allege Wade improperly filed his sworn oath as a special prosecutor – an argument the judge overseeing the case has previously rejected when raised by other defendants in a similar motion last year. At the time, the judge said that motion did not establish how Wade’s actions “resulted in prejudice.”
™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.