Timeline of allegations against Fulton DA Fani Willis

The personal relationship between Fulton County DA Fani Willis, left, and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, right, has come under scrutiny during the Georgia election interference case. (Alyssa Pointer & John Bazemore/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The personal relationship between Fulton County DA Fani Willis, left, and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, right, has come under scrutiny during the Georgia election interference case. (Alyssa Pointer & John Bazemore/AP)

Allegations of an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” between District Attorney Fani Willis and Nathan Wade, a private attorney she hired as special prosecutor, have roiled Fulton County’s high-profile racketeering case against Donald Trump and his allies.

Here’s a timeline:

Jan. 1, 2021: Willis takes office as Fulton County district attorney after defeating her former boss in the Democratic primary and running unopposed in the November election.

Feb. 10, 2021: In a letter to top Georgia officials, Willis says she’s opened a criminal investigation into interference in the state’s 2020 general election.

Nov. 1, 2021: Willis hires Wade as special prosecutor in the investigation. She offered the job to several other Georgia attorneys, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, but they declined.

Nov. 2, 2021: Wade files for divorce against his wife, Joycelyn Wade, in Cobb County Superior Court.

May 2, 2022: A special grand jury is empaneled to investigate attempts by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn his loss in Georgia. Over the next eight months, Wade takes the lead in presenting information to the special grand jury, signing subpoenas and questioning witnesses.

October 2022: On Oct. 4, Wade spends more than $1,300 to buy three American Airlines tickets to Miami for himself, Willis and Wade’s mother, according to credit card statements. There are also more than $8,000 in charges during roughly the same time period to Royal Caribbean Cruises, Vacation Express, the Hyatt Regency in Aruba and Norwegian Cruise Line.

April-May 2023: On April 25, Wade spends $817 on Delta Air Lines tickets to San Francisco in both his and Willis’ names, credit card records show. Additionally, on May 14, Wade spends $840 for a stay at the DoubleTree hotel in Napa Valley.

Aug. 14, 2023: Trump and 18 supporters are charged in a 41-count indictment alleging they acted as “criminal enterprise” in an attempt to subvert the election results in Georgia.

Jan. 8, 2024: An attorney for defendant Michael Roman files a motion seeking to disqualify the DA’s office from the case because of an alleged romantic relationship between Willis and Wade. The filing says that because Wade paid for trips they took together, Willis benefited financially from the arrangement. On this day, Willis is also served a subpoena seeking to depose her in the ongoing divorce proceedings of Nathan Wade and his estranged wife, Joycelyn.

Jan. 14, 2024: Willis delivers a 35-minute speech at the historic Big Bethel AME Church in which she defends Wade as a “great friend” and a “legal superstar” but does not address whether they are romantically involved. She suggests racism is behind the accusations, noting that critics targeted Wade, who is Black, and not the two other special prosecutors on the Trump case, who are white.

Jan. 17, 2024: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and 14 other media outlets file a motion in Cobb County Superior Court to unseal the Wades’ divorce records saying they are of major public interest.

Jan. 18, 2024: Willis seeks a protective order to shield her from having to give a deposition in the Wades’ divorce and, in a court filing, accuses Joycelyn Wade of “interfering” with the Trump prosecution and says that her allegations are meant to harass and embarrass the district attorney.

Jan. 19, 2024: Joycelyn Wade’s attorneys fire back at Willis and attach some of Nathan Wade’s credit card records to their court filing. They confirm that he purchased plane tickets for Willis and himself.

Jan. 22, 2024: Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson says the Wades’ divorce records were improperly sealed and orders them to be made public. He rules that Willis does not have to give a deposition, at least not yet.

Jan. 25, 2024: Former President Donald Trump joins in on Roman’s motion to disqualify Willis. His Atlanta-based attorneys also accuse the DA of trying to “foment racial bias” into the case that could prejudice a jury, citing her comments at Big Bethel AME Church. In the coming weeks, other defendants also join the motion.

Jan. 30, 2024: Nathan Wade and Joycelyn Wade reach a temporary settlement in their divorce case, leading to the cancellation of a hearing scheduled for the following day in which Wade was expected to be asked about his relationship with Willis.

Feb. 2, 2024: Willis and Wade acknowledge a “personal” relationship in a court filing. But they deny any improper behavior and say their relationship is not grounds to disqualify them from prosecuting the case.

Feb. 15, 2024: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee convenes an evidentiary hearing. Willis takes the stand and defends herself in emotional and combative testimony. “I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial,” Willis tells defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant. Wade also testifies. So does Robin Yeartie, an ex-employee of the DA’s office and Willis’ onetime friend. Yeartie contradicts the testimony of Willis and Wade, who each say their romantic relationship began in 2022. Yeartie says it started in 2019.

Feb. 16, 2024: In the hearing’s second day, Willis’ father, John Clifford Floyd III, takes the stand and bolsters key parts of her testimony. Wade’s former law partner, Terrence Bradley, also testifies but is barred by attorney-client privilege from answering many questions.

Feb. 23, 2024: Trump’s lawyers submit cellphone data to the court which purports to shows that in 2021 Wade visited the Hapeville neighborhood where Willis was living nearly three dozen times. In two of those visits, Wade’s cellphone arrives late at night and leaves in the predawn hours. (Both Wade and Willis had testified that they did not spend the night together at the Hapeville condo.) The DA’s office fires back that the evidence should not be admitted into evidence.

Feb 27, 2024: Bradley, Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney, again takes the stand after the judge determines that some things he could say are not shielded by attorney-client privilege. Bradley testifies that he doesn’t know when the relationship between Wade and Willis began, contradicting what he had previously told Merchant.

March 1, 2024: McAfee hears closing arguments. The judge declines to admit additional evidence, such as Wade’s cell phone records.

March 6, 2024: A new state Senate Committee on Investigations begins hearing testimony about Willis and her office. Its first witness is Merchant. The committee, which has subpoena power, was created earlier in the year to investigate Willis.

March 15, 2024: McAfee rules that Willis has a choice: recuse herself and her office from the case or allow Wade to withdraw. McAfee says that while the defense did not prove that an actual conflict of interest existed to disqualify the DA, the appearance of impropriety “infects” the prosecution team. Hours later, Wade resigns.

March 20, 2024: Judge McAfee grants permission for Trump and other defendants to appeal his decision that keeps Willis on the case.

May 21, 2024: Willis easily defeats a primary challenger as she seeks a second term as DA. She faces Republican Courtney Kramer in the November general election.

May 8, 2024: The Georgia Court of Appeals agrees to consider whether McAfee was right in allowing Willis to remain on the case. The decision means a significant delay in the election interference case going to trial.

June 3, 2024: The appeals court dockets the Willis case and assigns three judges to oversee it - Trenton Brown, Benjamin Land and Todd Markle. All three were initially appointed by Republican governors but have since been elected with no opposition. Judge Yvette Miller, a Democratic appointee, was originally named as part the three-judge panel but recuses herself.