Wade steps aside in Trump’s Georgia case, following judge’s ruling

March 18, 2024

A Georgia judge ruled on Friday, March 15,  that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) or the prosecutor she had a romantic relationship with must step aside before her office can continue its election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies, reports The Hill.

Judge Scott McAfee ruled that Willis’s once-romantic relationship with Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade constituted an appearance of conflict of interest in the racketeering case, allowing the district attorney to still prosecute Trump if Wade were to depart—and Wade stepped aside on Friday afternoon.

“[T]he established record now highlights a significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team—an appearance that must be removed through the State’s selection of one of two options. The Defendants’ motions are therefore granted in part,” McAfee wrote in his 23-page ruling.

The Trump prosecution was sidetracked by the probe into Willis and Wade’s relationship. In more than three days of hearings, defense attorneys sought to prove that Willis hired her romantic partner to prosecute Trump and has since benefited from his appointment in the form of trips they took together.

The judge’s decision is a middle ground between the two sides. Trump and eight of his co-defendants argued the relationship meant the entire district attorney’s office should be thrown off the case, which would’ve hurled the prosecution into chaos. Prosecutors described the calls to step aside as baseless.

McAfee’s ruling provides a pathway for Willis to still prosecute the historic election interference case, in which she indicted Trump and his allies on racketeering and other charges—contending they entered a months-long criminal conspiracy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.

Research contact: @thehill