Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is accusing the estranged wife of a prosecutor she hired and allegedly had a romantic relationship with of trying to obstruct her election interference case against former President Donald Trump, according to several reports.
Willis’s attorney wrote in a filing on Thursday that lawyers for the wife of the prosecutor, Nathan Wade, served a subpoena to the district attorney last week, seeking to question her as part of the couple’s divorce proceedings, according to the Associated Press.
Willis’s attorney, Cinque Axam, argued in the filing that the subpoena was being sought “in an attempt to harass and damage” her professional reputation and accused the wife, Joycelyn Wade, of conspiring with “interested parties” in the election interference case to “annoy, embarrass, and oppress” Willis.
Last week, a former Trump aide and defendant Michael Roman’s lawyer Ashleigh Merchant filed a motion alleging that Willis and Wade — whom the district attorney hired to prosecute the case against Trump — were engaged in a romantic relationship and that Willis was paying him a lavish salary for his work on the case that he used for vacations for himself and Willis.
To date, Willis has not denied the allegations of an affair with Wade, and has instead suggested that racism was at play.
Now, according to the filing, Willis appears to blaming Wade’s wife for wanting to interfere in her case against Trump, while at the same time arguing that she does not need to answer questions in their divorce proceedings since the couple has been estranged for two years and are seeking “an uncontested no-fault divorce.”
Axam is seeking to quash the subpoena, writing that the attempt to question Willis is “obstructing and interfering” with the case against Trump, the AP reported.
Law professor Jonathan Turley said Willis blaming Wade’s wife “only increased concerns over her professional separation with Wade.”
“Accusing the estranged wife of your alleged lover of being a political conspirator is about as compelling as accusing people raising ethical concerns of being virulent racists,” he wrote in a column.
Willis has only increased concerns over her professional separation with Wade. Accusing the estranged wife of your alleged lover of being a political conspirator is about as compelling as accusing people raising ethical concerns of being virulent racists https://t.co/MZyZU4QY7r
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) January 19, 2024
Joycelyn Wade’s lawyer, Andrea Hastings, served Willis the subpoena the same day Roman’s lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant, filed his motion alleging the affair. Merchant said Willis and Wade’s alleged inappropriate relationship created a conflict of interest, since Willis is personally profiting from the case by hiring Wade and him taking her on vacations. Merchant is seeking to have the indictment against Roman thrown out, and have Willis and Wade removed from the case.
Merchant wrote in an email to the AP: “Ms. Willis alleges that her deposition is being sought in an attempt to harass and damage her professional reputation. Why would her truthful testimony risk damaging her reputation?” Merchant also dismissed Willis’s claims of a conspiracy with “interested parties,” writing to AP that she had filed her motion on the deadline for pretrial motions in the election case.
“We believe her filing in Cobb County is just another attempt to avoid having to directly answer the important questions Mr. Roman has raised,” Merchant wrote to the AP.
Merchant also questioned Willis’s hiring of Wade, given his lack of experience on the type of criminal charges Willis is pursuing. Merchant wrote:
That research reveals that the special prosecutor has never tried a felony [racketeer infiltrated and corrupt organizations] case. The State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta has several lawyers who specialize in the prosecuting and defending RICO cases. Despite having access to these resources, why would the district attorney, instead, appoint someone who has never tried a felony RICO case, particularly in a case with such national significance as this one?
The special prosecutor, based on his lack of experience in this type of felony, would not be qualified under Fulton County’s standards to be appointed to represent any defendant in this case given the complexity of the charges. If the special prosecutor is not qualified to defend this case under Fulton County’s standards, then how is he qualified to prosecute the case? Is that why the district attorney did not seek approval for his appointment? If so, why did she seek to appoint an unqualified lawyer without approval to preside over this prosecution?
On Thursday, the judge overseeing the case, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, set a February 15 hearing date on Merchant’s motion on Willis and ordered Willis to file a response by February 2.
Roman, along with Trump and 17 others, was indicted by a grand jury in August for allegedly participating in a scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Roman, Trump, and 11 others have pleaded not guilty. Roman was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in Georgia.