Allegations of Improper Hiring and Financial Benefits Surround Fulton Prosecutor in Trump Case

ATLANTA (AP) — The controversy surrounding Fulton County’s special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, took center stage during a recent hearing at the Fulton Superior Court. Wade quietly listened as defense attorney Steve Sadow addressed the allegations against him. Notably absent from the hearing was Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, marking the first public appearance of the Fulton prosecutors since the allegations emerged.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee announced plans to schedule a hearing in the coming weeks to explore the claims made against Wade. However, the judge stated that he would first wait for prosecutors to respond in writing to a motion filed by Michael Roman, a former operative in the Trump campaign, before setting a hearing date. McAfee also mentioned that early to mid-February would likely be the earliest possible date for the hearing, depending on the availability of trial calendars in the docket.

The procedural hearing, which lasted over two hours, primarily focused on several pretrial motions. However, the allegations made by Floyd Merchant against DA Willis cast a shadow over the proceedings. Merchant accused Willis of improper hiring practices by appointing Wade, her romantic partner, as the special prosecutor for the Trump case. Additionally, Merchant claimed that Willis benefited financially from her relationship with Wade, alleging that he used county funds to pay for lavish vacations shared with her.

Among the defendants in Fulton County’s racketeering case is Michael Roman, charged with seven felony counts. Sadow, Roman’s attorney, expressed the need to review Willis’ response before deciding on joining Roman’s motion to dismiss the charges and calling for the disqualification of the Fulton DA’s office from further prosecuting the case. Sadow emphasized the need for substantiated allegations, as Roman’s motion was the first to make such claims against prosecutors.

Craig Gillen, representing co-defendant David Shafer, revealed that he is conducting his own investigation into the allegations to determine whether to support or supplement Roman’s motion. Meanwhile, Wade maintained a composed demeanor throughout the proceedings but did not address the allegations. A spokesperson for Willis stated that she would respond to the allegations in a future court filing, although the exact timing remained uncertain.

In addition to the allegations, attention was drawn to the disclosure made during the hearing regarding the Fulton County prosecutors’ meeting with staff from the U.S. House Jan. 6 Committee. Wade confirmed that he and Chief Senior DA Donald Wakeford had traveled to Washington to meet with committee aides. However, they were restricted from photocopying any documents during the meeting. Sadow had been actively seeking any relevant materials shared with prosecutors by the committee, as it may not have been provided to the defendants during the discovery process.

Republicans have recently portrayed the Fulton case as politically biased, citing Wade’s meetings with the committee and members of the White House Counsel’s office as evidence of prosecutorial bias. Jeffrey Clark, another defendant in the case, filed a motion demanding that Willis’ office disclose all communication with U.S. government agencies or offices. The motion claimed that such information could support the argument that the case’s prosecution is tainted by partisan political objectives coordinated with the White House.

It is important to note that Will Trump, the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, may face a rematch with Democrat Joe Biden. The motion filed by Clark suggests that the prosecution of the case serves as a political benefit to President Biden and his party. Despite acknowledging potential non-political reasons for the consultations, Clark’s motion argues that the information sought could still be beneficial to his defense.

The Fulton County case involving the special prosecutor and the allegations surrounding his appointment has raised questions about the integrity of the prosecution. Fulton Superior Court Judge McAfee’s plan to hold a hearing in the near future reflects the need to address these allegations thoroughly. As the proceedings continue, both defense attorneys and defendants seek further clarification and evidence to support their claims of bias and potential political influence.