Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who brought election interference charges against Donald Trump, has acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with an attorney she hired to work on the high-profile case.
Citing the relationship between Ms Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, the former US president and two other co-defendants have sought to have her disqualified and the charges dismissed.
Ms Willis, in a 176-page filing with Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, called the request “meritless” and urged the judge to dismiss it.
She said there was no personal relationship with Mr Wade at the time he was hired in November 2021 as special prosecutor, for which he has reportedly been paid more than $650,000 (€602,000).
Mr Wade, who is going through a contentious divorce, said in an attached affidavit that he and Ms Willis began a personal relationship in 2022 and she has “received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as special prosecutor”.
Ms Willis said she and Mr Wade each paid their own share for vacations they took together, which reportedly included a Caribbean cruise.
Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has pleaded not guilty to charges of involvement in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia, where Democrat Joe Biden won by some 12,000 votes.
In a post on his Truth Social platform today, Mr Trump said Ms Willis “just admitted to having a sexual relationship with the Prosecutor she, in consultation with the White House and DOJ, appointed to ‘Get President Donald J. Trump.’
“That means that this scam is totally discredited & over!” he said.
Ms Willis has asked for the trial of the former president and his 14 co-defendants to begin on 5 August, three months before the November presidential election.
Four co-defendants, including three former Trump campaign lawyers, have pleaded guilty already to lesser charges in deals that spared them any prison time.
Others indicted in Georgia include former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, John Eastman, a constitutional lawyer, and Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level Justice Department official.
Mr Trump also faces federal charges for his efforts to subvert the 2020 election and for the 6 January, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters.
That trial was scheduled to begin in Washington in March but is likely to be delayed.
Mr Trump and his two eldest sons, Don Junior and Eric, are currently on trial in New York for business fraud, and the former president is scheduled to go on trial in Florida in May for alleged mishandling of top-secret documents after he left the White House.