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Fulton County hearing live updates: Judge to hear arguments over DA Fani Willis’ disqualification

todayFebruary 15, 2024


Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(ATLANTA) — The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s Georgia election interference case is set to hear arguments over motions to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, primarily over accusations that she benefited financially from a personal relationship with a prosecutor she hired for the case.

Trump co-defendant Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign staffer, filed a motion last month seeking to dismiss the charges against him and disqualify Willis, alleging that she improperly benefited from a “personal, romantic relationship” with prosecutor Nathan Wade. Trump and seven other defendants in the case subsequently joined the effort.

Willis and Wade, in a court filing, admitted to the relationship but said it “does not amount to a disqualifying conflict of interest.” The office also flatly denied any financial benefit, saying the relationship “has never involved direct or indirect financial benefit to District Attorney Willis.”

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Feb 15, 9:39 AM
Hearing is underway

The evidentiary hearing is underway in front of a packed courtroom.

DA Fani Willis has not yet entered the courtroom, but special prosecutor Nathan Wade is present, along with multiple attorneys for defendants in the DA’s election interference case, including Trump attorney Steve Sadow and Mike Roman’s attorney Ashleigh Merchant.

Two of Trump’s co-defendants in the case, Harrison Floyd and David Shaffer, are also in attendance.

Feb 15, 9:24 AM
Trump attending NYC hearing

Former President Trump’s attorney has arrived for the Fulton County proceedings, but his client won’t be attending the hearing.

Instead, Trump is attending a hearing in his criminal hush money case in New York.

The former president is not required to be at either of the two hearings taking place today.

Feb 15, 8:45 AM
Attorneys have clashed in court filings

The district attorney’s office and attorneys for the defendants have traded accusations in a series of court filings leading up to Thursday’s hearing.

Trump co-defendant Michael Roman has accused Fani Willis and Nathan Wade of violating “laws regulating the use of public monies” and says they “suffer from irreparable conflicts of interest.” Specifically, he alleges Wade paid for multiple trips for him and Willis, including to Napa Valley and Belize. Credit card statements later revealed Wade paid for at least two flights for Willis on his credit card.

Wade, in an affidavit submitted to the court, said expenses between him and Willis were “roughly divided equally” and that he used his personal funds. The affidavit also said the relationship started after he was hired on the case in 2021, and that he and Willis have never cohabitated.

However, Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, has alleged some of the statements in Wade’s affidavit were inaccurate. Merchant says she a witness ready to testify that the relationship predated Wade’s hiring, which would dispute Wade’s affidavit.

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