Home Family Law Trump Georgia Attorney General Nathan Wade settles divorce, avoids testimony

Trump Georgia Attorney General Nathan Wade settles divorce, avoids testimony

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Trump Georgia Attorney General Nathan Wade settles divorce, avoids testimony

The lead prosecutor in the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies settled a contentious divorce dispute Tuesday, avoiding a hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning that included testimony about allegations of an inappropriate relationship between him and the Fulton County district would be attorney Fani T. Willis.

Nathan Wade was expected to be questioned under oath about his finances – including his income as special prosecutor in the Trump case and his expenses, such as purchasing airline tickets for himself and Willis in October 2022 and April 2023.

The divorce drew national attention after one of Trump's co-defendants, former campaign aide Mike Roman, accused Willis and Wade of an “inappropriate, secret personal relationship” that financially benefited them both, prompting calls for their removal from the criminal case had Fulton County, home to Atlanta. Both Trump and a third defendant followed Roman's request to remove Willis and Wade from the case and dismiss the charges.

County records show Wade's firm has received more than $653,000 for its election work over the past two years.

The last-minute agreement, although “temporary” for now, allows Wade and Willis to avoid making statements that would have been embarrassing or to give Trump and his co-defendants new evidence or ammunition to undermine the criminal case. Attorneys for the defendants had planned to watch Wednesday's hearing closely as they prepare for a separate hearing Feb. 15 in Fulton County on whether the allegations warrant disqualification or dismissal.

However, the settlement does not preclude the two prosecutors from examining the alleged actions. Nor does it guarantee that the criminal case against Trump and his allies will continue. Last week, Georgia Senate Republicans created an investigative committee with subpoena power to investigate whether Willis (D) had a romantic relationship with Wade when she appointed him special prosecutor. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission asking for an investigation.

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Additionally, Steve Sadow, Trump's attorney in the Georgia case, accused Willis earlier this month of violating Georgia's rules of professional conduct when she accused her critics of “playing the race card” in a fiery speech at an Atlanta church ” to have. The rules state that the prosecutor in a criminal case “shall refrain from making extrajudicial statements that have a substantial likelihood of aggravating the public condemnation of the defendant.” In a motion to remove Willis and dismiss the charges, Sadow noted that the maximum penalty for such a violation is disbarment.

Lawyers for Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade's estranged wife, had also sought to question Willis in the case, saying she had “unique knowledge” of Wade's finances and marriage. But Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson, who oversaw the divorce case, withheld that subpoena during a hearing last week, saying he wanted to hear testimony from Wade first.

Thompson issued an interim consent order shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, stating that the hearing had been removed from the calendar with the consent of both parties because they had agreed “on all matters currently before the court.”

Their agreement will not be filed in court, Thompson noted — meaning it may never be public. Last week, Wade's divorce lawyer asked the judge to reconsider a request to seal the divorce proceedings, which would have required a public hearing. It was not immediately clear whether the divorce agreement would prevent the disclosure of other information that could potentially harm Willis or Wade, including discovery materials.

Ashleigh Merchant, Roman's defense attorney, said she planned to issue subpoenas in the coming days for witnesses and documents that she said would support her client's claims of an inappropriate romantic relationship between Willis and Wade. On Tuesday, Merchant sued the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, accusing the office of “willfully withholding” information it sought under Georgia's open records law — including records related to Nathan Wade's employment and the hiring of other outside attorneys for it the election case.

The lawsuit disclosed that Merchant subpoenaed Willis and Wade to testify at the Feb. 15 hearing. She is also expected to seek additional testimony, including from Wade's current and former law partners and others associated with the prosecution. She has suggested she could subpoena documents that were submitted as evidence in the Wades' divorce case and have not been made public.

This trove of discovery material includes Fulton County records and bank and credit card statements obtained by Joycelyn Wade about Nathan Wade's individual law practice, including his clients and income, which she referred to in court filings as “marital assets.” Nathan Wade's law firm's founding documents list her as a “director” alongside Wade. She has not been relieved of that role, according to public records.

“We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve their dispute,” Merchant said. “We look forward to taking our matter to court on the 15th.”

In recent days, Wade's estranged wife issued subpoenas directly related to alleged travel by Willis and Wade – including requests for documents and testimony from travel agents. Records surfaced this month showing that Wade has paid for at least two air trips for himself and Willis to California and Aruba since he was hired in November 2021 to lead Trump's prosecution. It is unknown whether Willis paid him back the money.

Joycelyn Wade repeatedly accused her estranged husband of refusing to reveal a full picture of his finances. In August — just days after the sweeping indictment in the Trump case was released — Thompson agreed to Joycelyn Wade's request to charge Nathan Wade with contempt of court for blocking his wife on financial records and other disclosures.

Nathan Wade's attorney, Scott Kimbrough, declined to comment.

Recently released divorce filings show that Wade did not immediately disclose to his wife or the court his appointment as special prosecutor in the Trump case or his income from that position. Wade filed for divorce in November 2021 – a day after he was appointed by Willis to lead the election interference investigation. Joycelyn Wade filed a countersuit this month, making the first of dozens of requests for access to Wade's financial reports and other records.

Wade's initial divorce filing stated the couple separated in August 2021. No specific assets were listed, except for the couple's longtime home in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. On January 18, 2022, Wade signed a sworn affidavit in the case listing his monthly income as $14,000 per month – with assets of approximately $1.1 million and total monthly expenses of $6,000 .

The document was filed four days after Fulton County processed the first payments to Wade's law firm for hours he billed in the election case: two payments of $15,000 each on Jan. 14, 2022, representing Wade's work in the election case Cover November and December 2021.

In recent days, a flurry of court filings suggested Wade would seek a plea deal in the case. His attorney twice filed a notice of his client's updated answers to written questionnaires as well as an affidavit filed by his client – a legal maneuver often used to avoid testifying in open court. Wade also submitted an updated financial disclosure form that listed his monthly income at about $9,000 per month.

On Tuesday, news of the settlement came in a written order from Thompson, who indicated that the scheduled hearing had been canceled – less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin.

Bailey reported from Atlanta.