Fani Willis Scandal Upends Trump Trial

What’s happening: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and colleague Nathan Wade took questions in court last week from lawyers seeking to disqualify them from prosecuting former President Donald Trump. The high-stakes hearings involved shouting, accusations of perjury, and the judge threatening to strike Willis’s testimony over frequent interruptions.

  • Catch up: Trump’s legal team alleged last month that Willis hired Wade despite his lack of experience due to their romantic relationship. Lawyers argue she improperly benefitted from expensive vacations paid for by Wade. Willis now acknowledges the relationship and other details have been revealed or corroborated.

Why it matters: These complications are already benefitting Trump’s campaign by delaying his Georgia trial, which Willis wants to start before the November election, and by contributing to the popular sentiment that Trump’s enemies are deeply corrupt.

On shaky ground: The crux of the prosecutors’ defense is that Willis paid back Wade for their trips together. Wade admitted in court he only had one travel receipt proving this, saying that Willis paid the rest of the large expenses in cash. The prosecutors also claim their relationship began after she hired Wade, but one close witness testified otherwise.

  • Other concerns: Willis did not disclose a plane ticket Wade paid for on financial reports, and experts say she was required to do so. She also briefly commented in court that she “kept some of the cash” from her first political campaign. Depending on what she meant, this may have been illegal.

What’s next: It’s unclear whether the scandal could result in real consequences for Willis, though some legal analysts think the disqualification case is strong.