Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis under fire: What’s next?

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a worship service at the Big Bethel AME Church on Jan. 14. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a worship service at the Big Bethel AME Church on Jan. 14. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

A temporary settlement in Nathan Wade’s divorce case means the special prosecutor will not testify this week about his alleged romantic relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

But that doesn’t mean Willis won’t have to explain the situation – and address demands that she be barred from prosecuting former President Donald Trump and others in the election interference case because of it. Here’s what we know about the allegations and what comes next.

The allegations: On Jan. 8 defendant Michael Roman asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to disqualify Willis from prosecuting him, suggesting the DA had personally profited from the case. Roman’s attorney alleged Willis was in a romantic relationship with Wade, a private attorney who Willis hired to serve as a special prosecutor in the case.

County records show Wade has earned more than $654,000 for his work – money Roman’s attorney suggested paid for trips for Wade and Willis. Documents released through Wade’s divorce case show the pair traveled to San Francisco, Miami and Aruba. Roman’s motion also suggests Wade was not qualified for the job.

Trump and defendant Bob Cheeley have since filed their own motions to disqualify Willis.

Wade’s divorce from wife Joycelyn became a second legal front for the allegations, with her attorney seeking testimony from Nathan Wade and Willis about their relationship. But the couple reached a temporary settlement Tuesday, canceling a Wednesday hearing at which Nathan Wade was expected to be questioned about his relationship with Willis. The Wades must still negotiate a permanent settlement to their divorce.

Willis’ response: Willis has not directly addressed her relationship with Wade. At a recent speech at an Atlanta church, she defended Wade’s qualifications and suggested the questions about them are racially motivated – Wade, like Willis, is Black.

McAfee has ordered Willis to respond to the allegations in court documents by Friday. One hitch: A cyberattack has crippled Fulton County technology systems – including the court system. As a result, new filings in the Trump case have not been posted online. It’s not clear how that might affect the timing of the release of Willis’ response.

Mark your calendar: McAfee has scheduled a Feb. 15 hearing on Roman’s motion. Roman’s attorney has subpoenaed Willis and Wade to testify. But McAfee may not rule on Roman’s motion at the hearing.

Many legal observers doubt the alleged romantic relationship would be enough to disqualify Willis from the case. But the political pressure on Willis is mounting, and even some Democrats fear the allegations could undermine the prosecution.

Staff writers Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin contributed to this report