World

Judge deals blow to Fani Willis, warns of disqualification in Trump case


The Fulton County judge overseeing Georgia’s sweeping racketeering case against Donald Trump and his allies said it’s “possible” District Attorney Fani Willis could be disqualified from the case but spared her from being the first to testify about misconduct allegations made against her.

Judge Scott McAfee said Monday that it’s “possible” Willis could be disqualified from the Trump case based on facts being alleged by one of the defendants and that an evidentiary hearing on those claims “must occur,” paving the way for Thursday’s hearing to go on as planned, despite Willis’ opposition.

McAfee agreed with Willis’ attorney that “it would be important that from the outset we’re not talking about calling Ms. Willis as the first witness,” but he left the door open for the district attorney to testify later on.

Monday’s hearing sought to determine whether Willis, special prosecutor Nathan Wade and others from the district attorney’s office will have to testify during another hearing on Thursday, when McAfee will weigh in on the accusations being made against Willis for the first time.

Willis has been accused of misrepresenting a personal relationship with Wade, whom she hired to help her office prosecute Trump and his co-defendants in the Georgia case, which charges that the former president and his allies tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state.

Willis’ relationship with Wade was brought to light by defendant Michael Roman last month after the former Trump official submitted a court filing that asked the court to remove the two prosecutors from the case and for the charges against him to be thrown out based on the new information about Willis and Wade. The filing accuses the pair of making financial gains from prosecuting the election case.

“The state has admitted a relationship existed,” McAfee said during the hearing. “So what remains to be proven is the existence and extent of any financial benefit, again if there even was one. Because I think an evidentiary hearing must occur to establish the record on those core allegations.”

Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, said Monday that one of the witnesses she subpoenaed, Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of Wade’s, could testify about details of Willis and Wade’s relationship, including when the relationship began and whether people in Willis’ office knew about it. Bradley also represented Wade in his divorce case.

Willis’ lawyers argued that the claims being brought to the judge were not “facts” but “gossip.”

“The court should not condone that practice,” attorney Anna Cross said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Fani Willis Disqualification Trump
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14 in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge Scott McAfee said Willis could be disqualified from the Trump case…


Joe Raedle/Getty Images