Judge Rules Willis or Wade Must Step Aside in Trump Georgia Case

Fulton County Superior Court  Judge Scott McAfee ruled Friday that embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can remain on the Trump Georgia case as long as her boyfriend, special prosecutor Nathan Wade, steps aside.

Former President Trump and his co-defendants had sought to remove Willis from the Georgia election interference case based on allegations that she and Wade had engaged in an improper romantic relationship that constituted a conflict of interest. Testimony and cell phone records provided strong evidence that both Willis and Wade lied under oath during the misconduct hearing, last month.

Law expects predicted that if the pair was found to have lied to the Court, Willis and her office would be disqualified from the case.

In his 22-page order, McAfee gave Willis the option of either withdrawing from the case against former President Donald Trump or firing Wade.

The judge said that the defendants “failed to meet their burden of proving that the District Attorney acquired an actual conflict of interest in this case through her personal relationship and recurring travels with her lead prosecutor.”

“However, the 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,” he wrote.

McAfee said that “[w]ithout sufficient evidence that the District Attorney acquired a personal stake in the prosecution, or that her financial arrangements had any impact on the case, the Defendants’ claims of an actual conflict must be denied.”

In a mild rebuke of Willis’s outrageous behavior, the judge said that his finding is “by no means an indication that the Court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment or the unprofessional manner of the District Attorney’s testimony during the evidentiary hearing.”

“Rather, it is the undersigned’s opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices – even repeatedly – and it is the trial court’s duty to confine itself to the relevant issues and applicable law properly brought before it,” he said.

“Other forums or sources of authority such as the General Assembly, the Georgia State Ethics Commission, the State Bar of Georgia, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, or the voters of Fulton County may offer feedback on any unanswered questions that linger. But those are not the issues determinative to the Defendants’ motions alleging an actual conflict,” he added.

McAfee said that no “disqualification of a constitutional officer is necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available.”

That said, he ruled that “the prosecution of this case cannot proceed until the State selects one of two options:” Either “the District Attorney may choose to step aside, along with the whole of her office” or “Wade can withdraw.”

The co-defendants had alleged that Willis benefited financially by hiring Wade because they were in a pre-existing relationship when he was hired in 2021 and would vacation together.

Both Wade and Willis denied they were in a romantic relationship prior to his hiring and that the couple would split the costs of their shared travels; Willis said she reimbursed Wade for her share of the trips in cash.

In his Friday order, McAfee said while Willis’ “reimbursement practice” was “unusual and the lack of any documentary corroboration understandably concerning,” he ultimately decided that the defendants did not present “sufficient evidence” that expenses weren’t “roughly divided evenly.”

The judge said that “the evidence demonstrated that the financial gain flowing from her relationship with Wade was not a motivating factor on the part of the District Attorney to indict and prosecute this case.”

But the Court did find that “the record made at the evidentiary hearing established that the District Attorney’s prosecution is encumbered by an appearance of impropriety,” McAfee wrote.

“As the case moves forward, reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit to the District Attorney, or even whether the romantic relationship has resumed.

“Put differently, an outsider could reasonably think that the District Attorney is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences. As long as Wade remains on the case, this unnecessary perception will persist,” he said.

Willis and Wade both alleged in court that their relationship began in 2022, after Wade was hired to investigate Trump.

But their claims contradicted testimony from Robin Yeartie, a former “good friend” of Willis and a past employee at the DA’s office.

Yeartie said she had “no doubt” that Willis and Wade’s relationship started in 2019, after the two met at a conference.

Yeartie testified to observing Willis and Wade “hugging” and “kissing” and showing “affection” prior to November 2021, and that she had no doubt that the two were in a “romantic” relationship starting in 2019, to when she and Willis last spoke in 2022.

Willis dismissed Yeartie’s testimony and said she no longer considers Yeartie to be a friend.

Judge McAfee in Friday’s order said that “while the testimony of Robin Yeartie raised doubts about the State’s assertions, it ultimately lacked context and detail.”

“[N]either side was able to conclusively establish by a preponderance of the evidence when the relationship evolved into a romantic one,” he said.

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley reacted with disbelief over the “disjointed” opinion, saying it doesn’t hold together. “It’s like finding two people in a bank vault and taking one off to jail,” he said on Fox News Friday morning.

“They both testified in the same way. They were the two parts to this relationship, and yet only one of them was disqualified.” Turley said the Judge’s decision inevitably  leads to questions like, “why should Willis escape these consequences?”

“Many people believe that both prosecutors lied on the stand and that there were false statements submitted to court,” he added. “The key about that is that Willis and Wade are prosecuting people in this case for that very conduct.”


As expected, Wade resigned from the Georgia case Friday following McAfee’s ruling.

“The furtherance of the rule of law and democracy is and has always been the North Star of our combined efforts in the prosecution of those who are alleged to have attempted to overthrow the results of Georgia’s 2020 Presidential Election,” Wade wrote in his resignation letter to Willis.

“As directed by the Order today … I hereby offer my resignation, effective immediately,” he said.

“I am offering my resignation in the interest of democracy, in dedication to the American public, and to move the case forward as quickly as possible,” Wade added.


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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 14: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives to speak at a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. A grand jury today handed up an indictment naming former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies over an alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)