Who is Nathan Wade, Fulton special prosecutor in Trump case?

Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, representing the District Attorney's office, argued before Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee who heard motions from attorneys representing Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell in Atlanta on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.   (AP photo/Jason Getz, Pool )

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, representing the District Attorney's office, argued before Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee who heard motions from attorneys representing Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell in Atlanta on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. (AP photo/Jason Getz, Pool )

The special prosecutor spearheading the Fulton County election interference case has been accused of having “an improper, clandestine personal relationship” with his boss, District Attorney Fani Willis.

A court filing on Monday said that Nathan Wade used his taxpayer-funded paycheck to bankroll lavish trips he took with Willis. The motion from defendant Michael Roman, which offered no concrete proof of the romantic ties but cited “sources close” and divorce filings, argued the relationship tainted Fulton County’s election interference investigation.

Wade did not respond to a request for comment. A Willis spokeswoman said the DA’s office will respond to the allegations “through appropriate court filings.”

Here’s what else to know about Wade:

He works in private practice

Wade is a defense attorney and onetime municipal court judge. His suburban Atlanta firm, Wade & Campbell, focuses on personal injury cases, contract litigation, family and domestic law and criminal defense.

A graduate of John Marshall law school, Wade served as an assistant solicitor for Cobb County in 1999. The solicitor general’s office handles misdemeanor cases. He became Marietta’s first Black male judge in 2011 and held the post for a decade. Wade also made several unsuccessful runs for judgeships on the Cobb County Superior Court.

In 2020, Wade’s firm was retained by then-Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren to review complaints of use of force, racial biases, discrimination and neglect at the county jail after seven detainees had died in custody. Three months later, an Atlanta television station sued Warren, accusing him of manufacturing a fake investigation to circumvent open records laws. Wade defended his work. A judge later ordered the sheriff to release the records.

He’s been an informal adviser to Willis for years

Wade was assigned to mentor Willis after she was first elected as chief magistrate judge for the suburb of South Fulton in 2019. He served on Willis’ transition team as she prepared to take office as DA and sat in as Willis re-interviewed every employee in the office for their job. Wade was later tapped to lead the election probe.

Quiet in public, a key player behind the scenes

Wade led prosecutors’ presentation to the special grand jury that spent nearly eight months in 2022 collecting evidence and hearing witness testimony in the Trump case. Multiple special grand jurors previously interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave Wade high marks for his work — and personal style. (He has a penchant for bold suits and ascots — he owns about 20.)

Over the course of the investigation, Wade has questioned witnesses, signed subpoenas and negotiated immunity deals. He also helped present the case to the grand jury that ultimately handed up the indictments against former President Donald Trump and 18 others in August.

In court, Wade has largely let his deputies take the lead during arguments before Judge Scott McAfee, but when he does speak he comes off as soft-spoken. Defense attorneys, however, have complained about Wade’s hard-nosed tactics behind closed doors. (One lawyer representing more than a half-dozen Trump electors whom prosecutors had briefly tried to disqualify accused Wade of misleading and intimidating her clients after they accepted immunity deals.)

He’s one of the highest-paid prosecutors in Georgia

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has paid Wade’s law offices nearly $654,000 since January 2022, according to county records, making it likely that he is the highest paid prosecutor in the state. (By comparison, Georgia Supreme Court justices currently earn slightly more than $186,000 per year.)

Wade is the Fulton DA’s office’s highest-paid contract attorney. His law partner, Christopher Campbell, has separately made $126,000 for his work with Fulton prosecutors, according to county records.

Efforts to punish Wade have so far failed

McAfee in September quickly shut down an attempt to sanction Wade for a mailer his law firm sent multiple defendants offering them legal services. The “mailer appears to be the type of mass-generated material to which all citizens with a mailbox are regularly subjected,” the judge wrote in a September order.

A month later, several defendants sought to dismiss the indictment because the DA’s office failed to file in a timely manner two sworn oaths taken by Wade. McAfee rejected their argument, stating that the requirements don’t apply to contractors working on single cases and that the defendants didn’t establish a constitutional violation or structural defect to the grand jury process that warranted dismissing the case outright. Alluding to a famous Monty Python sketch, McAfee added, “if this parrot of a motion is somehow not yet dead, the defendant has failed to establish how (Wade’s) actions resulted in prejudice.”

Staff writers Bill Rankin and Rosie Manins contributed to this article.

This story has been updated with additional information about Wade’s work history.