Advertisement

Fani Willis Testimony in Prosecutor’s Divorce Case Deferred by Judge

(Bloomberg) -- A Georgia judge released dozens of documents in the divorce case of Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor hired by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to oversee the election-conspiracy prosecution against former president Donald Trump.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The unsealing came amid allegations that Wade and Willis had a secret romance and took vacations together paid for with more than $650,000 in taxpayer funds Wade got for managing the two-and-a-half-year investigation that led to the racketeering indictment of Trump and 18 others.

Trump allies have used the embarrassing details to attack Willis, who brought one of four indictments against Trump as he seeks the Republican nomination to challenge President Joe Biden for the White House. The judge overseeing the racketeering case has set a Feb. 15 hearing to consider a request by Trump co-defendant Michael Roman to remove Willis and Wade from the case.

The divorce records disclosed Monday offered an uncomfortable look at rancorous proceedings that included Wade’s failure to provide financial information demanded by his estranged wife, Joycelyn, after he filed for divorce in 2021. She’s accused Willis of having an affair with her husband and subpoenaed the district attorney to testify in the case.

Joycelyn Wade became increasingly frustrated at her inability to learn key details about her husband’s finances while trying to work out a settlement for ending their 26-year marriage. In February 2022, she said it was clear Wade “had no intentions of cooperating or complying” with demands for documents, and a year later he had “yet to provide any additional documents whatsoever,” court documents show.

‘Nearly Nothing’

In a Dec. 7 filing, she complained that he’d left her “without any means of financial support” or a way to pay her lawyers. Wade had earned $700,000 from Willis’s office since May 2022, even as he provided her “nearly nothing” for her support and survival, often causing her bank account to be in overdraft, she said.

As a stay-at-home mother for two decades, she had relied on biweekly payments of $700 for personal and household expenses. Since the divorce, Nathan Wade “continuously draws from this account for his own personal and household expenses,” she said in a court filing.

The records, unsealed in Cobb County Superior Court, show that the judge had cited Nathan Wade for contempt for failing to provide financial data his wife sought. Wade’s contempt order came in the same week that Trump was indicted.

Most of the documents were available online after the unsealing, but a few could only be obtained in the courthouse. An April 2022 filing previously obtained by Bloomberg News showed Wade took a five-year, $25,000 loan from LendingClub Corp. in 2015, and paid it back by 2020, along with interest payments of $11,167. That reflects an interest rate of 15.6% on the loan.

Judge Henry Thompson unsealed the documents as Joycelyn Wade seeks to question Willis under oath. In a hearing Monday, he deferred a decision on whether Willis must testify in the divorce case. Willis filed an emergency motion on Jan. 19 to halt the subpoena, claiming it was an attempt to harass and intimidate her.

The next day, Joycelyn Wade responded with a legal filing claiming Willis should testify because she has unique knowledge of Wade’s finances and marriage, including that Wade bought plane tickets to travel with her to Miami and San Francisco.

Since Wade filed for divorce, “he has taken trips to San Francisco and Napa Valley, to Florida and even gone on Caribbean cruises, enjoyed a trip to Belize, another to the country of Panama and even just last month took a trip to Australia,” according to the filing. “The evidence is clear that Ms. Willis was an intended travel partner for at least some of these trips.”

Thompson ruled that he will block Willis’ testimony until after Wade first gives a sworn deposition in the case. The judge said he can then decide if Willis has unique information to help determine what matters in the case: how to divide the marital assets; how much Wade owes in alimony; and what the attorneys deserve in fees.

“It seems to me that Mr. Wade would be the best source of information on what his income has been, how he’s been spending it and whether he’s been engaged in an extramarital affair,” Thompson ruled in a hearing broadcast on YouTube.

The judge has set a hearing for Jan. 31.

“At that time, we expect Mr. Wade will be forced to provide more answers to questions about both his conduct and his finances,” Joycelyn Wade’s lawyer, Andrea Dyer Hastings, said in a statement.

A coalition of media outlets that includes Bloomberg News had asked the judge to unseal the divorce case records.

(Updates with details of the unsealed divorce records, statement from Joycelyn Wade’s attorney.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.