Former President Donald Trump will choose to attend his fraud trial in New York on Thursday, but events in a Georgia courtroom will decide whether prosecutor Fani Willis and her entire office will be disqualified from Trump’s racketeering case there.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said Monday that an evidentiary hearing will be held Thursday and that details of the district attorney’s admitted “relationship” with special prosecutor Nathan Wade will be key to determining whether she will be disqualified from the case against Trump and his co-defendants. .
“Just to emphasize, the issues at issue here are whether a relationship existed, whether that relationship was romantic or non-romantic in nature, when it was formed and whether it continues,” McAfee said in court.
Georgia attorney Ashleigh Merchant plans to explore whether there was a “personal financial benefit” to Willis, who had attorney Nathan Wade on payroll as part of his team.
Former President Donald Trump will not be in a Georgia courtroom for a hearing Thursday, but attorneys will fight in an evidentiary hearing with District Attorney Fanni Willis may remain on the case.
Merchant also claims that a witness, Terrance Bradley, Wade’s former law partner, will talk about when the relationship began, and even where they would spend the night. That could be key to determining whether the court considers an inappropriate conflict.
‘That’s the hard thing here, you know, if they flirted or had some sort of one-time sexual encounter and from 2020 to 2021 or something like that, does that count as the beginning of the relationship or does it have to be something more formal.’ Anthony Michael Kreis, a professor at Georgia State University College of Law, told DailyMail.com.
“So that’s where I think a lot of this fight will play out, not necessarily over most of the facts, but I suspect most of it is: What do we do with the facts? How do we construct or interpret them?”
The stakes are high for Willis – who acknowledged a “personal relationship” with Wade even as he criticized “lewd” claims in an explosive document – as well as for Trump.
FILE PHOTO: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks at a news conference alongside Prosecutor Nathan Wade after a grand jury returned indictments against former President Donald Trump and his allies in their attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 state elections, in Atlanta, Georgia. USA August 14, 2023. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage./File Photo
Ashleigh Merchant, Michael Roman’s attorney, says witnesses will talk about “cohabitation” between Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade.
Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee weighed the efforts of potential witnesses seeking to have their testimony quashed.
If Judge McAfee decides there is a conflict of interest or the appearance of one, he could “disqualify” Willis and the entire Fulton County prosecutor’s office from the case. The move could force him to be reassigned to a neighboring county, where prosecutors may take a different view on racketeering conspiracy charges that Willis’ office obtained through a grand jury indictment for Trump and 18 co-defendants.
“The delay will probably be minimal, but the big question is who will be assigned,” Kreis said. ‘Because you could have done it again, because you could have a district attorney like DeKalb (county) who understands it and executes it, and we can’t wait to take it on. On the other hand, you know, you could assign it to Paulding County, randomly, or Forsyth County, and maybe the DA doesn’t see things the same way that Fanni Willis and the DA’s office here see things. things. “They just let it go, or they close deals and just wash their hands of it,” he said.
Since Trump missed the opportunity to be in the gallery, Thursday’s hearing appears to be a session in which lawyers clash over what evidence is relevant and what gets thrown out. But she will determine whether Willis herself must testify about the details of her relationship and whether the rides, accommodations and Uber rides constitute a financial benefit to the district attorney, which she denies.
Merchant, who represents Trump’s co-defendant Michael Roman, claims the relationship was inappropriate and undermines charges against his client related to Trump’s effort to overturn the state’s election. Trump and other co-defendants have joined the effort.
Anna Cross, who represents Willis, criticized the information presented at the hearing and says other witnesses will dispute it.
‘The defense is not presenting them with facts. The defense does not bring the law to him. “The defense is bringing you gossip,” she said in court Monday. She said “there was no coexistence.”
Thursday’s hearing will decide whether Willis herself needs to testify about her relationship with Wade.