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Fani Willis criticizes ‘wild and reckless’ speculation in conflict of interest claims by former Trump staffer – as it happened

Fani Willis criticizes ‘wild and reckless’ speculation in conflict of interest claims by former Trump staffer – as it happened

Willis says conflict of interest claims led to ‘wild and reckless speculation’ and ‘extraordinary’ invasion of privacy

Despite allegations that prosecutor the Nathan Wade was overpaid for his work on the Georgia election subversion case, his pay was in line with his experience and the complexity of work he did, the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, writes in a court filing.

And, contrary to any assertions otherwise, any pay Wade made in the case did not personally benefit Willis, she said. They don’t share any joint accounts or expenses. When they’ve traveled together, they’ve split costs “roughly evenly”.

“Both are professionals with substantial income; neither is financially reliant on the other,” the filing says.

Willis also says Wade’s employment complied with applicable state and local laws and payments received the proper approvals.

The former Trump staffer Michael Roman’s filings alleging the personal relationship should disqualify Willis have engaged in “wild and reckless speculation” and attempts to subpoena a wide net of people connected to Willis and Wade for this purpose is an “extraordinary level of invasion of privacy”, Willis wrote.

She wants the motions to disqualify her from the case to be denied by the court “without further spectacle”.

Friday afternoon saw the public admission of a relationship between the Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis and the special prosecutor Nathan Wade, which will undoubtedly became a conservative rallying point to discredit the election subversion case against former president Donald Trump.

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Here’s what happened today:

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  • Willis and Wade confirmed for the first time on Friday that they had a romantic relationship, but denied any wrongdoing. Willis said she should not be disqualified from the case.

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  • The response comes after the former Trump staffer Michael Roman’s filings attempting to get Willis booted from the case based on what Willis called “wild and reckless speculation” and an “extraordinary level of invasion of privacy”.

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  • Trump responded on his social media platform, Truth Social, deflecting from the merits of the case against him: “THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”

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  • Legal experts say the response from Willis and Wade, in which both say they did not share expenses and weren’t financially entangled, should go a long way toward staving off any removals from the case.

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  • But perceptions of conflicts of interest will play a role in how the case is viewed now, and conservatives will continue to bring up the relationship while the case continues.

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  • Separately, Willis has been subpoenaed by the chair of the House judiciary committee and Trump ally, Jim Jordan, to produce documents related to the use of federal grant money in prosecutions and the potential misuse of those funds.

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Outside the Willis/Wade/Trump issue, today’s news:

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  • A federal judge in DC postponed Donald Trump’s March trial on charges of plotting to overturn election as an appeal by Trump claiming immunity from prosecution for actions taken as president goes through the courts. No new date is set.

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  • The US jobs market defied fears of a downturn again in January with employers adding 353,000 new jobs over the month, the labor department announced on Friday.

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  • Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, honored the three US service members who were killed in a drone strike in northern Jordan.

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Stories to watch this weekend:

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  • The lead Democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy, has confirmed that the text of the long-awaited border security bill will be released this weekend and voted on next week.

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  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will travel to the Middle East from Sunday to Thursday to work for the release of hostages still held by Hamas and to secure a humanitarian pause, the state department said, according to Reuters.

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  • Democrats will hold their first official primary contest in South Carolina on Saturday, expected to be an easy win for Biden.

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The former president Donald Trump, the main target of the Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis’s extensive election subversion case, has commented on Willis’s admission that she had a personal relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade.

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On social media platform Truth Social, Trump repeated the allegations that Willis’s hiring of Wade enriched her personally, a claim Willis has denied.

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“By going after the most high level person, and the Republican Nominee, she was able to get her ‘lover’ much more money, almost a Million Dollars, than she would be able to get for the prosecution of any other person or individual. THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”

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Despite allegations that prosecutor the Nathan Wade was overpaid for his work on the Georgia election subversion case, his pay was in line with his experience and the complexity of work he did, the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, writes in a court filing.

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And, contrary to any assertions otherwise, any pay Wade made in the case did not personally benefit Willis, she said. They don’t share any joint accounts or expenses. When they’ve traveled together, they’ve split costs “roughly evenly”.

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“Both are professionals with substantial income; neither is financially reliant on the other,” the filing says.

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Willis also says Wade’s employment complied with applicable state and local laws and payments received the proper approvals.

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The former Trump staffer Michael Roman’s filings alleging the personal relationship should disqualify Willis have engaged in “wild and reckless speculation” and attempts to subpoena a wide net of people connected to Willis and Wade for this purpose is an “extraordinary level of invasion of privacy”, Willis wrote.

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She wants the motions to disqualify her from the case to be denied by the court “without further spectacle”.

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We’re reading through the court filing from Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor, now. The full document posted today can be found online here.

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Some interesting context:

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In the filing, Willis points out two interpersonal relationships between defense attorneys working for those charged in the sprawling Trump election case.

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The attorney for the defendant Ray Smith and the attorney for the defendant Kenneth Chesebro are “publicly known to be in a personal relationship”, the filing says. And the two counsels for Jenna Ellis are “married law partners”.

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The state didn’t try to make these relationships a conflict-of-interest issue in the case because these kinds of relationships don’t constitute a legal conflict. Until Michael Roman filed a motion alleging the relationship between Willis and Wade was worthy of disqualification, “the private lives of the attorney participants in this trial was not a topic of discussion”, the filing says.

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The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor working on the case against Donald Trump and 14 other defendants, confirmed for the first time on Friday that they had a romantic relationship, but denied any wrongdoing and Willis said she should not be disqualified from the case.

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“In 2022, District Attorney Willis and I developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship,” Wade wrote in an affidavit attached to a motion Willis filed in court on Friday. He was hired to work on the Trump case in 2021.

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Willis wrote in a filing she had no personal or financial conflict of interest that “constitutes a legal basis for disqualification”. She urged Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, to dismiss a request to disqualify her without a hearing, which is scheduled for 15 February. She wrote:

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While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek.

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Fulton country district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, whom she confirmed having a personal relationship with.”,”caption”:”The Fulton country district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, whom she confirmed having a personal relationship with.”,”credit”:”Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters”}},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Michael Roman, a seasoned Republican operative and one of the defendants in the wide-ranging racketeering case against Trump and associates for trying to overturn the election, is seeking Willis’s disqualification. He alleges that Wade used money he earned from his work in Willis’s office on the case to pay for vacations for the two of them.

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Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have arrived at Dover air force base to honor the three US service members who were killed in a drone strike in northern Jordan.

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The Bidens arrived at the base to witness the transfer of the remains of the troops killed in Sunday’s assault. They have been named by the Pentagon as Sgt William Jerome Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23.

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Defense secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen CQ Brown, chair of the joint chiefs of staff, joined the president and first lady for the transfer in Dover.

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All three of the troops who died were army reservists from 926th Engineer Brigade, based in the US state of Georgia: Rivers was from Carrollton, Sanders from Waycross and Moffett from Savannah.

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The deaths marked the first time American military personnel have been killed by hostile fire in the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October.

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The lead Democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy, has confirmed that the text of the long-awaited border security bill will be released this weekend and voted on next week.

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The US House judiciary committee subpoenaed Fani Willis, the Fulton county district attorney, for records related to the use of federal grant money in prosecutions and the potential misuse of those funds.

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The subpoena escalates conflict between Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican representative, judiciary committee chairman and an ardent defender of Donald Trump, and Willis, whose office charged the former president and 18 others with 41 counts for interfering with a Georgia election and illegally attempting to undo Biden’s victory in Georgia.

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Willis responded to the subpoena on Friday:

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n

These false allegations are included in baseless litigation filed by a holdover employee from the prior administration who was terminated for cause. The courts that have ruled found no merit in these claims. We expect the same result in any pending litigation.

n

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She then went on to tout the office grant programs and said they are in compliance with Department of Justice requirements.

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The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, has been subpoenaed by the chair of the House judiciary committee, Jim Jordan, to produce documents, according to reports.

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The subpoena, obtained by NBC News, is part of a broader GOP effort to investigate whether Willis misused federal funds in her years-long investigation into Donald Trump, who was indicted last year on charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

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County District Attorney Fani Willis during a news conference in August 2023 in Atlanta.”,”caption”:”Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis during a news conference in August 2023 in Atlanta.”,”credit”:”Photograph: John Bazemore/AP”}},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

In a letter, Jordan accuses Willis of having failed to comply with earlier requests for documents and demands that she provide communications “referring or relating to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office’s receipt and use of federal funds” and “referring or relating to any allegations of the misuse of federal funds”.

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Capitol Hill is abuzz with the prospect of finally getting to see the cold, hard text of a much-discussed, long-awaited border security bill. After months of fraught negotiations between a core group of senators and the White House, the majority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, announced that details of the emerging border deal would come as early as today, with plans for the chamber to vote on the measure next week.

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The agreement pairs dramatic changes to the US immigration system and border policy with tens of billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine and Israel. Senators in both parties say this is their best hope of addressing the US’s beleaguered immigration system after decades of inaction, but conservatives are already lining up against the measure, egged on by Donald Trump to oppose it. Many progressives are also wary of what has been described as the most conservative immigration deal in generations.

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Here’s what else is happening:

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    n

  • The US economy added 353,000 in January, defying fears of a downturn, our Dominic Rushe says of the new labor department data released this morning.

  • n

  • Trump is cruising toward the Republican nomination while making plans for the possibility that he could become the first convicted felon in American history to represent a major party’s presidential ticket, according to Axios.

  • n

  • Allen Weisselberg, the former CFO of the Trump organization, is discussing a plea deal with prosecutors in Manhattan that would require him to plead guilty to perjury, the New York Times reports.

  • n

  • Meanwhile, ABC is reporting that special counsel Jack Smith’s team questioned witnesses about a closed and a “hidden room” that the FBI didn’t search when it raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last year.

  • n

  • In the US House, the congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced censure legislation against Ilhan Omar that would remove her from committees over what appears to be a poor translation of a speech the congresswoman delivered in the Somali language.

  • n

  • Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning, which, by tradition, means an early spring is on the way. Happy Groundhog Day, everyone.

  • n

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Key events

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Closing summary

Friday afternoon saw the public admission of a relationship between the Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis and the special prosecutor Nathan Wade, which will undoubtedly became a conservative rallying point to discredit the election subversion case against former president Donald Trump.

Here’s what happened today:

  • Willis and Wade confirmed for the first time on Friday that they had a romantic relationship, but denied any wrongdoing. Willis said she should not be disqualified from the case.

  • The response comes after the former Trump staffer Michael Roman’s filings attempting to get Willis booted from the case based on what Willis called “wild and reckless speculation” and an “extraordinary level of invasion of privacy”.

  • Trump responded on his social media platform, Truth Social, deflecting from the merits of the case against him: “THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”

  • Legal experts say the response from Willis and Wade, in which both say they did not share expenses and weren’t financially entangled, should go a long way toward staving off any removals from the case.

  • But perceptions of conflicts of interest will play a role in how the case is viewed now, and conservatives will continue to bring up the relationship while the case continues.

  • Separately, Willis has been subpoenaed by the chair of the House judiciary committee and Trump ally, Jim Jordan, to produce documents related to the use of federal grant money in prosecutions and the potential misuse of those funds.

Outside the Willis/Wade/Trump issue, today’s news:

  • A federal judge in DC postponed Donald Trump’s March trial on charges of plotting to overturn election as an appeal by Trump claiming immunity from prosecution for actions taken as president goes through the courts. No new date is set.

  • The US jobs market defied fears of a downturn again in January with employers adding 353,000 new jobs over the month, the labor department announced on Friday.

  • Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, honored the three US service members who were killed in a drone strike in northern Jordan.

Stories to watch this weekend:

  • The lead Democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy, has confirmed that the text of the long-awaited border security bill will be released this weekend and voted on next week.

  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will travel to the Middle East from Sunday to Thursday to work for the release of hostages still held by Hamas and to secure a humanitarian pause, the state department said, according to Reuters.

  • Democrats will hold their first official primary contest in South Carolina on Saturday, expected to be an easy win for Biden.

One last bit of news on Trump’s trials this afternoon:

A federal judge in DC postponed Donald Trump’s March trial on charges of plotting to overturn election, the Associated Press reports. No new date is set.

Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, joined grieving families at Dover Air Force Base on a gray, chilly Friday to honor the three American service members killed in a drone attack in Jordan, the Associated Press reports.

The Bidens met privately with the families before the roughly 15-minute solemn ritual, called a dignified transfer, that has become relatively uncommon in recent years as the US has withdrawn from conflicts abroad.

An air force chaplain offered a short prayer before white-gloved members of the army carry team transferred the flag-draped cases holding the soldiers’ remains from a C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft to a waiting vehicle. The carry team after placing the last of three cases in the vehicle offered a final salute to the soldiers. The US president, with his right hand over his heart, looked on somberly.

The ceremony came as the US military prepared a response to the deadly drone attack that American officials say was carried out by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias that includes the group Kataib Hezbollah. The White House has said the retaliation will not be a “one-off” strike.

The service members killed Sunday were all from Georgia – Sgt William Jerome Rivers of Carrollton, Sgt Kennedy Sanders of Waycross and Sgt Breonna Moffett of Savannah. Sanders and Moffett were posthumously promoted to sergeant rank.

Democrats will kick off their primary calendar officially tomorrow, 3 February, with the South Carolina contest.

Republicans aren’t holding their presidential election in the state until later this month, but that didn’t stop Nikki Haley, the Republican from South Carolina, from taking aim at the Democrats.

Haley is running a mobile billboard in Orangeburg focused on vice-president Kamala Harris. Harris is not running for president, but the billboard calls attention to her position as second in line for the role.

“We’re going to have a woman president,” the billboard says. “It will either be Nikki Haley, or it will be Kamala Harris. Trump can’t beat Biden, and Biden won’t finish his term.”

Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said the billboard highlights the choice between the two women, saying “a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Kamala Harris”.

Nikki Haley’s campaign is out with a mobile billboard as @VP Kamala Harris visits Orangeburg, SC today.

“We’re going to have a woman president. It will either be Nikki Haley, or it will be Kamala Harris. Trump can’t beat Biden, and Biden won’t finish his term.” pic.twitter.com/DVBjbRipWR

— Nidia (@NidiaCavazosTV) February 2, 2024

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Nikki Haley’s campaign is out with a mobile billboard as @VP Kamala Harris visits Orangeburg, SC today.

“We’re going to have a woman president. It will either be Nikki Haley, or it will be Kamala Harris. Trump can’t beat Biden, and Biden won’t finish his term.” pic.twitter.com/DVBjbRipWR

— Nidia (@NidiaCavazosTV) February 2, 2024

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will travel to the Middle East from Sunday to Thursday to work for the release of hostages still held by Hamas and to secure a humanitarian pause, the state department said, according to Reuters.

The trip will include stops in Israel, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar, it said.

man giving speech
Antony Blinken delivers a speech during the American Corner Lekki Ribbon Cutting at 21st Century Technologies in Lagos, Nigeria, 24 January 2024. Photograph: NDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Pool/Reuters

Some legal experts say the affidavit from the special prosecutor Nathan Wade and filing from the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, where both say they did not share expenses and weren’t financially entangled, should go a long way toward staving off any removals from the case.

This should end the matter.👇

On efforts to remove Fulton County DA Fani Willis and Nathan Wade from prosecution of FPOTUS Trump.

(Note: I have been critical of Willis and Wade.)

Signed affidavit by Wade:

– No relationship before or when hired by DA.
– Shared costs equally. pic.twitter.com/A7yzPg6NXs

— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) February 2, 2024

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This should end the matter.👇

On efforts to remove Fulton County DA Fani Willis and Nathan Wade from prosecution of FPOTUS Trump.

(Note: I have been critical of Willis and Wade.)

Signed affidavit by Wade:

– No relationship before or when hired by DA.

– Shared costs equally. pic.twitter.com/A7yzPg6NXs

— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) February 2, 2024

The chances of a successful disqualification went from 5% to .05%. —> Special Prosecutor Wade’s affidavit: the relationship with Fani Willis started after his appointment as special prosecutor, the two have never cohabitated, and travel expenses have been split between them. pic.twitter.com/ry3QbrzmLK

— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) February 2, 2024

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The chances of a successful disqualification went from 5% to .05%. —> Special Prosecutor Wade’s affidavit: the relationship with Fani Willis started after his appointment as special prosecutor, the two have never cohabitated, and travel expenses have been split between them. pic.twitter.com/ry3QbrzmLK

— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) February 2, 2024

But, as the Guardian’s Sam Levine has reported, there’s still an issue of a perception of conflict. Trump and his allies are sure to continue this line of attack on Willis and use it to discredit the case overall, regardless of any dismissals.

Trump reacts to Willis’s confirmation of relationship

The former president Donald Trump, the main target of the Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis’s extensive election subversion case, has commented on Willis’s admission that she had a personal relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade.

On social media platform Truth Social, Trump repeated the allegations that Willis’s hiring of Wade enriched her personally, a claim Willis has denied.

“By going after the most high level person, and the Republican Nominee, she was able to get her ‘lover’ much more money, almost a Million Dollars, than she would be able to get for the prosecution of any other person or individual. THAT MEANS THAT THIS SCAM IS TOTALLY DISCREDITED & OVER!”

In an affidavit included in Fani Willis’s court filing about the alleged conflict of interest motion, the prosecutor Nathan Wade detailed how he came on board to help with the Georgia election subversion investigation and his personal relationship with Willis.

Wade said the role of special prosecutor paid well below his typical hourly rate – $250 an hour, with a capped number of hours, compared to his normal $550 an hour for previous government legal work. He said he initially tried to help Willis find other lawyers willing to do the work, but many had “concerns related to violent rhetoric and potential safety issues for their families”.

None of the money he’s earned working the case has benefitted Willis, he wrote in the affidavit. They don’t share expenses and have never lived together.

“At times I have made and purchased travel for District Attorney Willis and myself from my personal funds. At other times District Attorney Willis has made and purchased travel for she and I from her personal funds,” he wrote.

Willis says conflict of interest claims led to ‘wild and reckless speculation’ and ‘extraordinary’ invasion of privacy

Despite allegations that prosecutor the Nathan Wade was overpaid for his work on the Georgia election subversion case, his pay was in line with his experience and the complexity of work he did, the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, writes in a court filing.

And, contrary to any assertions otherwise, any pay Wade made in the case did not personally benefit Willis, she said. They don’t share any joint accounts or expenses. When they’ve traveled together, they’ve split costs “roughly evenly”.

“Both are professionals with substantial income; neither is financially reliant on the other,” the filing says.

Willis also says Wade’s employment complied with applicable state and local laws and payments received the proper approvals.

The former Trump staffer Michael Roman’s filings alleging the personal relationship should disqualify Willis have engaged in “wild and reckless speculation” and attempts to subpoena a wide net of people connected to Willis and Wade for this purpose is an “extraordinary level of invasion of privacy”, Willis wrote.

She wants the motions to disqualify her from the case to be denied by the court “without further spectacle”.

Willis court filing points to relationships within legal teams of the defendants

We’re reading through the court filing from Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor, now. The full document posted today can be found online here.

Some interesting context:

In the filing, Willis points out two interpersonal relationships between defense attorneys working for those charged in the sprawling Trump election case.

The attorney for the defendant Ray Smith and the attorney for the defendant Kenneth Chesebro are “publicly known to be in a personal relationship”, the filing says. And the two counsels for Jenna Ellis are “married law partners”.

The state didn’t try to make these relationships a conflict-of-interest issue in the case because these kinds of relationships don’t constitute a legal conflict. Until Michael Roman filed a motion alleging the relationship between Willis and Wade was worthy of disqualification, “the private lives of the attorney participants in this trial was not a topic of discussion”, the filing says.

Fani Willis confirms relationship with prosecutor on 2020 Trump election case

Sam Levine

Sam Levine

The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor working on the case against Donald Trump and 14 other defendants, confirmed for the first time on Friday that they had a romantic relationship, but denied any wrongdoing and Willis said she should not be disqualified from the case.

“In 2022, District Attorney Willis and I developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship,” Wade wrote in an affidavit attached to a motion Willis filed in court on Friday. He was hired to work on the Trump case in 2021.

Willis wrote in a filing she had no personal or financial conflict of interest that “constitutes a legal basis for disqualification”. She urged Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, to dismiss a request to disqualify her without a hearing, which is scheduled for 15 February. She wrote:

While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek.

The Fulton country district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, whom she confirmed having a personal relationship with.
The Fulton country district attorney, Fani Willis, and Nathan Wade, whom she confirmed having a personal relationship with. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Michael Roman, a seasoned Republican operative and one of the defendants in the wide-ranging racketeering case against Trump and associates for trying to overturn the election, is seeking Willis’s disqualification. He alleges that Wade used money he earned from his work in Willis’s office on the case to pay for vacations for the two of them.

The Biden-Harris campaign has said the strong job figures released today should be a reminder to Americans what the economy looked liked under his predecessor.

Donald Trump “oversaw the worst jobs record since the Great Depression and his only economic ‘accomplishment’ was giving billionaires and corporations tax handouts at the expense of middle-class families”, the campaign’s rapid response director, Ammar Moussa, said in a statement.

The statement continues:

Now, [Trump is] rooting for the economy to crash because he thinks it’ll help him politically – but that’s exactly what will happen if he’s able to regain power. We know because that’s what happened last time.

Biden arrives at Dover air base to honor three US troops killed in Jordan attack

Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have arrived at Dover air force base to honor the three US service members who were killed in a drone strike in northern Jordan.

The Bidens arrived at the base to witness the transfer of the remains of the troops killed in Sunday’s assault. They have been named by the Pentagon as Sgt William Jerome Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23.

Defense secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen CQ Brown, chair of the joint chiefs of staff, joined the president and first lady for the transfer in Dover.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of three U.S. service members who were killed in a drone attack in Jordan last week. pic.twitter.com/xdsSSDHX17

— The Recount (@therecount) February 2, 2024

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President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of three U.S. service members who were killed in a drone attack in Jordan last week. pic.twitter.com/xdsSSDHX17

— The Recount (@therecount) February 2, 2024

All three of the troops who died were army reservists from 926th Engineer Brigade, based in the US state of Georgia: Rivers was from Carrollton, Sanders from Waycross and Moffett from Savannah.

The deaths marked the first time American military personnel have been killed by hostile fire in the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October.

Sgt William Jerome Rivers, Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett and Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, who were killed in Jordan.
Sgt William Jerome Rivers, Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett and Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, who were killed in Jordan. Photograph: Us Army/Reuters

Only a quarter of Americans say they feel the economy is starting to recover from the problems of the past few years, according to a new poll released as new figures show the US job market added 353,000 new jobs in January, defying fears of a downturn.

The CNN poll released today shows 26% of Americans say they feel the economy is beginning to recover, up from 20% last summer and 17% in December 2022.

But nearly half, 48%, say they believe the US economy is still in a downturn, citing inflation and the cost of living, as well as expenses such as food and housing.

Overall, more than half, 55%, of Americans say they feel Joe Biden’s policies have worsened the country’s economic conditions. The poll found split views along partisan lines: of those who say the economy is recovering, nearly three-quarters say Biden policies have helped. Out of those who say things are getting worse, 83% blame the president’s policies.

Border bill text to be released over weekend, says lead negotiator

The lead Democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy, has confirmed that the text of the long-awaited border security bill will be released this weekend and voted on next week.

Republicans said the border is a priority and we should craft a bipartisan bill to help control the border.

We did that. We have a deal.

This weekend we will release the bill and vote next week.

It’s decision time.

— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 2, 2024

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Republicans said the border is a priority and we should craft a bipartisan bill to help control the border.

We did that. We have a deal.

This weekend we will release the bill and vote next week.

It’s decision time.

— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 2, 2024

The Democratic congressman Dan Goldman has said he is “disgusted” by the news that the House judiciary committee has subpoenaed Fani Willis.

A statement from the New York congressman reads:

I am utterly disgusted but sadly not surprised by Chairman Jordan’s latest attempt to subvert our country’s rule of law by weaponizing Congress’s authority to interfere in an ongoing criminal prosecution for nakedly political purposes.

In his blatant attempt to save Donald Trump, his party’s indicted criminal defendant presidential nominee, from legal peril, Chairman Jordan has yet again abused the authority of the Judiciary Committee to attempt to undermine a state prosecution.

Make no mistake, this is the true ‘weaponization of the federal government,’ unlike Chairman Jordan’s Select Subcommittee of the same name in which he has wasted countless hours peddling baseless conspiracy theories to no avail.

George Chidi

George Chidi

The back and forth between Jim Jordan and Fani Willis began last year with correspondence Jordan sent on 24 August, the day Donald Trump stood for a mugshot at the Fulton county jail.

Jordan’s letter suggested Willis had subjected Trump to “politically motivated state investigations and prosecutions due to the policies they advanced as president”, and that any coordination her office had with federal prosecutors may have been an improperly partisan use of federal money.

Willis’s scorching response in subsequent replies said the inquiry offends principles of state sovereignty and the separation of powers, that it interferes with a criminal investigation, that Trump is not immune to prosecution simply because he is a candidate for public office and that Jordan himself was “ignorant of the US constitution”.

The Republican-led committee opened a formal investigation into the Fulton county prosecutor’s office in December.

Willis has been under fire over the last month after allegations of an improper relationship with the special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired to work on the Trump case in Fulton county.

Jordan sent a letter to Nathan Wade on 12 January, asking for his cooperation in his committee’s inquiry into “politically motivated investigations and prosecutions and the potential misuse of federal funds”. The letter notes Wade’s billings for meetings with the federal January 6 Committee, which the letter characterizes as partisan. The letter states:

There are open questions about whether federal funds were used by [Fulton county] to finance your prosecution.

Willis responded on Wade’s behalf twelve days later.

“Your letter is simply a restatement of demands that you have made in past correspondence for access to evidence in a pending Georgia criminal prosecution,” she said in the reply.

As I said previously, your requests implicate significant, well-recognized confidentiality interests related to an ongoing criminal matter. Your requests violate principles of separation of powers and federalism, as well as respect for the legal protections provided to attorney work product in ongoing litigation.

Fani Willis dismisses subpoena claims as ‘false’ and ‘baseless’

George Chidi

George Chidi

The US House judiciary committee subpoenaed Fani Willis, the Fulton county district attorney, for records related to the use of federal grant money in prosecutions and the potential misuse of those funds.

The subpoena escalates conflict between Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican representative, judiciary committee chairman and an ardent defender of Donald Trump, and Willis, whose office charged the former president and 18 others with 41 counts for interfering with a Georgia election and illegally attempting to undo Biden’s victory in Georgia.

Willis responded to the subpoena on Friday:

These false allegations are included in baseless litigation filed by a holdover employee from the prior administration who was terminated for cause. The courts that have ruled found no merit in these claims. We expect the same result in any pending litigation.

She then went on to tout the office grant programs and said they are in compliance with Department of Justice requirements.

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