Fani Willis Must Dismiss Herself Or Special Prosecutor From Case

Fani Willis has a choice to make if she wants the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump to move forward. On March 15, a judge ruled that the Fulton County district attorney must dismiss herself or special prosecutor Nathan Wade from the case.

As previously reported, Fani ended up in front of a judge after her romantic relationship with Wade became public.

RELATED: Fani Willis Goes Viral After Giving Defense Lawyers The Business During Testimony In Trump Election Interference Case (WATCH)

The Facts Behind Judge’s Ruling In DA Fani Willis’ Case

To be clear, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee did not find that Willis’ relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade resulted in a conflict of interest.

However, the judge said Willis can stay on the case only if Wade withdraws due to “an appearance of impropriety” that infected the prosecution team.

Additionally, Judge McAfee criticized DA Fani Willis for a “tremendous” lapse of judgment. He also questioned the truthfulness of Willis and Wade’s testimony about the timing of their relationship.

“As the case moves forward, reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit to the District Attorney, or even whether the romantic relationship has resumed,” the judge wrote. “Put differently, an outsider could reasonably think that the District Attorney is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences. As long as Wade remains on the case, this unnecessary perception will persist.”

Fani Willis has the option to continue on the case, but it could likely ruin her reputation and taint the case against Donald Trump, per AP.

For weeks, viral headlines about romantic getaways, sex and stashes of cash have consumed the coverage. As a result, the prosecution of a former president accused of undermining the will of the people who voted him out of the White House has become a soap opera.

Background On DA Willis & Nathan Wade

For context, Willis hired Nathan Wade to lead the team to investigate and ultimately prosecute Trump and 18 others on charges that they illegally tried to overturn his narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia in 2020.

In testimony last month, Willis and Wade insisted they didn’t begin dating until after he became special prosecutor. Note that a former friend and employee of Willis’ testified that she saw the pair hugging and kissing before he was hired.

Still, Fani and Nathan testified that the relationship ended in the summer of 2023. They both said that Willis either paid for things herself or used cash to reimburse Wade for travel expenses.

Despite having lingering “reasonable questions,” the judge said there was insufficient evidence that Willis had a personal stake in the prosecution. Additionally, Judge McAfee said there’s no evidence to disprove the dating timeline Willis and Wade gave.

McAfee found no showing that the due process rights of Trump and the other defendants had been violated or that the issues involved prejudiced them in any way. He also said the disqualification of a constitutional officer, like a district attorney, is not necessary when a less drastic option is sufficient.

Trump’s Legal Team Responds To Friday’s Ruling

DA Fani Willis hasn’t returned AP’s request for comment on the judge’s ruling.  However, Trump’s team has shared their thoughts.

An attorney for Trump said the former president’s team respects the court’s decision but believes the judge “did not afford appropriate significance to the prosecutorial misconduct of Willis and Wade.”

“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,” defense attorney Steve Sadow said.

Trump has already denied doing anything wrong and pleaded not guilty.

Friday’s ruling comes days after the judge dismissed three of 13 counts against Trump in the indictment. The judge said prosecutors failed to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of the allegations related to soliciting public officers to violate their oaths.

However, the bulk of the 41-count indictment remains intact, and the judge said prosecutors could seek a new indictment to try to reinstate the charges he dismissed.

RELATED: Nikki Haley Sends Donald Trump A Message After Dropping Out Of The Republican Presidential Race

Associated Press reporters KATE BRUMBACK and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER contributed to this report.

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