OPINION: Nathan Wade, a man milking every last one of his 15 minutes

'Quon, aka known as Marlon Wayans, and Nathan Wade discuss the election interference case and some other things.

Credit: Daily Show

Credit: Daily Show

'Quon, aka known as Marlon Wayans, and Nathan Wade discuss the election interference case and some other things.

Nathan Wade is on a mission.

Whatever the point of that mission is known only to Wade, the former beau of District Attorney Fani Willis and onetime special prosecutor in Fulton County’s criminal case against Donald Trump.

Wade is taking what one might describe as an, um, I’m lost for words here: What’s the opposite of a victory tour?

A raucously funny — or embarrassing, it depends how you look at it — comedy bit this week involving Wade has people shaking their heads in wonder or disgust. (Again, it depends on your outlook.)

Wade famously departed from the election interference case after a Trump co-defendant revealed that Willis and her special prosecutor had engaged in a romance and had taken trips together. Also, he earned more than $700,000 for his efforts.

Willis, it appeared, dodged a big hit when Fulton Judge Scott McAfee ruled that either Willis or Wade had to leave the case. So Wade left and, it seemed, would return to eking out a legal living in Cobb County and Willis could continue waging her prosecution against the former POTUS.

Wade, however, has been anything but quiet since then, even as the state’s appeals court could still rip it from Willis’ mitts.

After leaving the case in March, Wade was scheduled to appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” but then wisely decided otherwise.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, center, confers with lead prosecutors, Donald Wakeford, left, and Nathan Wade during a motion hearing at Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on July 1, 2022. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

But the lure of TV lights, and chance to say his piece, was too much. In May he appeared on ABC News.

That’s a not uncommon strategy for those caught in controversy: Appear on an influential media show — say, Diane Sawyer’s — tell your story and move on.

But after ABC, Wade worked the rest of the media alphabet, MSNBC and then CNN, where he took a strange minute-long, on-camera break to huddle with an advisor to determine how to handle the dicey legal question of when his affair with Willis began. Team Trump alleges it started before he was hired. Wade and Willis say it was after.

After that, as media appearances go, it was “hold my beer.” Somehow, in his internal calculation of what was best for his story, career trajectory and even one of the nation’s most important criminal cases, Wade decided it was time to appear on the comedic Daily Show with “Choppin’ It Up with ‘Quon.

‘Quon is sort of a hip hop Borat played by actor Marlon Wayans, who also “interviewed” New York Mayor Eric Adams.

Wade started off telling the host that their romance was not “an affair” and “DA Willis is respectable mother, a brilliant legal mind.”

But ‘Quon had no interest in her mind.

Wade spoke of their lengthy work sessions — days, nights, weekends — causing the host to interject, “How can you not hit that? How can you not?!!”

Later, Wade said they interviewed other people for the position of special prosecutor. Hearing the word “position,” ‘Quon saw ribald comedy gold and rolled with it. He asked, “Did the position look like this?” and then enacted positions seen in those sex-help booklets.

                        Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, speaks to leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, Ga., on Thursday, June 13, 2024. “I’ve lived the experience of a Black woman who is attacked and over-sexualized,” Willis told leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday. (Leah Overstreet/The New York Times)

Credit: NYT

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Credit: NYT

“This is one of the funniest interviews I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” a commenter said on YouTube. “Thank you for making America laugh.”

At first, I deferred doing anything with video. I worried about being had by some 13-year-old whiz kid with A.I.

Throughout the interview, Wade played a straight man, sometimes fighting back laughter.

But, then again, an important criminal case hangs in the balance.

A few days ago, after the other interviews, it was clear the DA’s office wasn’t happy with Wade’s increasing persona.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a Willis advocate, told the AJC: “I think it is an unnecessary distraction and disrespectful to both the process and the DA for Mr. Wade to be giving interviews at this time.”

I called Franklin post-’Quon to ask if she had any further response. She laughed, adding, “No. What is there to say about it? Sheesh. Is there anything printable to say?”

Willis has complained about being “attacked and over-sexualized” for being a Black woman doing her job. She has taken hits and lewd comments: Rudy Giuliani referred to her as a “ho.” She’s been called “monkey” and the n-word. And Trump told a crowd, “It’s spelled Fani, like your a--.”

But Wade was on her side.

Buddy Parker, a former federal prosecutor and lawyer for a Trump co-defendant, told me: “In 49 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen anything like this. ... I’m not a therapist, but this is some sort of ego trip.”

Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor advising the grand jury,, listens to arguments during a hearing on Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's motion to quash his subpoena from the special purpose grand jury in Atlanta, GA, on Thursday, August 25, 2022.  on Thursday, August 25, 2022.   (Bob Andres for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres

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Credit: Bob Andres

I reached out to Wade, and an attorney representing him said he had no comment.

The questions are many, starting with, “What in God’s green Earth were you thinking?”

Is he savoring his moment in the limelight? Is he auditioning for a role in a Kardashian show?

Or was he duped, like the character Borat did to get his pigeons to say stupid stuff?

“I was stunned watching it,” said Esther Panitch, a Democratic state rep and an attorney. “It’s like Sacha Baron Cohen (who played Borat and other characters) punking Jason Spencer.”

Spencer was the Republican state rep goaded by Cohen into saying stupid stuff on camera. He later resigned.

One could assume Wade had to know the Daily Show would play up, as Borat would say, “the sexy time.”

“I don’t know if he knew,” Panitch said. “But if he didn’t know, that might be worse.”

Either way — yikes!