Trump Georgia case: Nathan Wade settles divorce and avoids testimony

The special prosecutor leading the election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump will not have to testify this week about an alleged romantic relationship with his boss, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, after he filed a preliminary ruling in his divorce The case reached an agreement on Tuesday.

The agreement between special prosecutor Nathan J. Wade and his wife, Joycelyn Wade, leaves unanswered for now a question that poses a potential threat to Ms. Willis' high-profile prosecution of Mr. Trump and 14 of his allies.

Ms. Willis hired Mr. Wade, a lawyer in private practice, in 2021 to help him handle the Trump case, saying she needed a trusted confidant for the job. But a filing three weeks ago from one of Mr. Trump's co-defendants, Michael Roman, alleged that the two prosecutors had been romantically involved and had taken paid leave from Mr. Wade.

Mr. Roman argues that this represents a conflict of interest and is grounds for removing both prosecutors, as well as Ms. Willis's entire office, from the case.

To date, neither Mr. Wade nor Ms. Willis have confirmed or denied the allegations of a relationship. But in recent days it appeared increasingly likely that Mr Wade would be forced to address the claims at a divorce hearing on Wednesday, where he was expected to take the stand.

The hearing was canceled at the last minute and the judge announced an agreement Tuesday afternoon. “We can confirm that this is a temporary arrangement while the final details are worked out,” said a spokeswoman for Andrea Dyer Hastings, Ms. Wade’s divorce lawyer.

Ms Hastings continued on Tuesday evening: “While this negates the immediate need for a hearing, it does not resolve the case.” She added that the issues of temporary maintenance and legal fees had been “resolved.” The couple's children are adults.

Mr. Wade married Ms. Wade in 1997 and filed for divorce more than two years ago.

Ms. Willis has until Friday to respond to Mr. Roman's submission. It is unclear whether she will address the relationship allegations in her response.

The filing of Mr. Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer, provided no evidence of the romantic relationship between prosecutors. But it was said they were seen “in a personal relationship” in Atlanta and it was claimed that people close to both of them had confirmed this.

Mr. Wade has collected more than $650,000 in legal fees since Ms. Willis hired him in November 2021. Mr. Roman's filing states that Ms. Willis “significantly benefited from this prosecution” by taking vacation paid for by Mr. Wade. at the expense of the taxpayer.” That was the conflict of interest, he said.

The allegations do not change the underlying facts of the case, which allege that Mr. Trump and his allies engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four of the 19 original defendants have already pleaded guilty, including some of Mr. Trump's most loyal defenders. One of them, Jenna Ellis, tearfully said during a hearing late last year that she looked back on what she had done “with deep remorse.”

Legal experts disagree about the strength of Mr. Roman's case and whether it will convince the presiding judge in the case, Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, that the prosecution team should be removed. Mr. Roman's filing also calls for the dismissal of the seven criminal charges filed against him.

However, the allegations have led to further serious complications for Ms Willis. Fulton County has launched an investigation and asked Ms. Willis to produce numerous documents, including invoices and payments to special prosecutors; However, the county commission does not have the authority to remove the elected district attorney.

A new commission set up by Republican lawmakers to monitor prosecutors is meant to review Ms. Willis' conduct and could pose a greater threat. Although lawmakers have not yet determined the scope of the commission's powers, it will most likely be able to punish or fire Georgian prosecutors.

Also on Tuesday, Ashleigh Merchant, Mr. Roman's attorney, filed a lawsuit against the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, accusing the office of “intentionally withholding information ahead of scheduled evidentiary hearings.”

Ms. Merchant said she filed public records requests for a number of documents but did not receive some, including invoices for payments from the office to Mr. Wade in 2023 and copies of travel reimbursements to Ms. Willis.