Adjudicated Rapist Brings Trumped-up Claims Against Fani Willis | Opinion

Photo via Fani Willis, Facebook.

Michael Roman, an indicted criminal co-defendant in Donald Trump’s Georgia election interference case, has filed a 127-page motion to dismiss and disqualify Fulton County DA Fani Willis, her outside counsel Nathan Wade, and the entire Fulton County prosecutors’ office from the case on the grounds that Willis and Wade are having a consensual affair.

Roman, Trump’s former Director of Election Day operations, was indicted along with Trump and others on a full range of election felonies, including impersonating public government officials, forgery, pressuring officials to lie, and supporting false electors to falsify Georgia’s election results.

Roman’s motion is defeated by its own attached exhibits. Trump, whose trial counsel struggles with exhibits in general, has now joined the motion. It appears Attorney Alina Habba can’t read exhibits either.

A trumped-up claim that Wade was hired without county authority

Roman devotes the bulk of real estate in his motion to the claim that Willis hired Wade without authorization from Fulton County.

Exhibit C, attached to his motion to disqualify, is a fully executed Fulton County document titled, “A resolution authorizing funding for additional personnel for the office of Fulton County District Attorney personnel,” the exact authorization Roman claims is lacking. Two months after the Fulton County commissioners passed it, Willis retained Wade.

The signed county authorization says no fewer than four times that Fulton County authorized the appropriation to help Ms. Willis to address Georgia’s rising crime rate, which would include any type of felony, including election felonies.

Mainstreet media isn’t helping

When Roman’s filing hit the court, main street media pounced. Headlines claimed that Willis and Wade were taking “lavish vacations” at “taxpayers’ expense.” Details about their luxurious vacations swirled on the front pages of nearly every major publisher. It seems no one in the media bothered to read the brief before co-opting someone else’s headline.

If it isn’t obvious, any employee or contractor who works for county government, including prosecutors and outside counsel, are always paid with taxpayer funds. Roman’s claim that Willis and Wade were “profiting” and “vacationing” at “taxpayer expense” just means they got paid from tax dollars for doing the job they were hired to do.

They can spend their income however they choose; they can spend it on Skittles and kittens if they want.

Where is the conflict of interest, anyway?

MSM headlines keep repeating Roman’s unexamined claim that Willis has a “conflict of interest.” A romantic affair with someone on the same team doesn’t create a conflict of interest, nor does traveling together. Indictment-adjacent, the “conflict” claim just gives Fox News and right-wing pundits a plausible substitution to avoid discussing hard evidence against Trump.

The motion waxes on about Willis’ alleged attempt to “defraud the public” by personally benefiting “from an undisclosed conflict of interest” without identifying exactly where Willis’ conflict of interest lies. Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct instruct that a lawyer shall not represent a client “if there is a significant risk that the lawyer's own interests … will materially and adversely affect the representation of the client.”

But the client here is Fulton County, not Roman. The county’s interest is in securing a just conviction for Trump and his co-conspirators if that is where the facts and law lead. Willis and Wade want the same thing their client wants; they don’t have their own interests which conflict with their client’s interest. There is no “conflict” where attorneys and their client want the same outcome.

Wade was Willis’ third choice

The motive presented in the disqualification motion is that Willis hired Wade because they were involved romantically, and she wanted to benefit from his hourly compensation. It’s a sloppy and unsupported theory.

Willis tried to hire two other outside and prominent attorneys before she offered the work to Wade. Willis first asked former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, but Barnes declined. Gabe Banks, a former federal prosecutor, was next, and also turned Willis down. Both men were concerned about safety, with Barnes asking, “Hypothetically speaking, do you want a bodyguard following you around for the rest of your life?”

The fact that Willis only hired Wade after two other prominent attorneys turned her down wholly defeats Roman’s “defraud the public” by “hiring her boyfriend” claim.

A parting shot at the glaring double standard

Last summer, a jury found Trump liable for sexual assault, the legal equivalent of rape, yet Republicans still consider him qualified to serve as President of the United States.

Under Trump ethos, a man can rape a woman, and brag about grabbing her genitalia without permission, and still occupy the highest office in the nation. But a woman in a consensual affair with outside counsel is disqualified from service as a county prosecutor. Got it.

Sabrina Haake discusses the motion to disqualify Fani Willis on the Thom Hartmann show on YouTube.

Sabrina Haake is a 25-year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Her columns appear in OutSFL, Chicago Tribune, Salon, State Affairs, Howey Politics, and RawStory. She and her wife split their time between South Florida and Chicago. Follow her on substack.


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