What we know about the allegations against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was at the center of courtroom drama last week over whether she should be disqualified from an election fraud case in Georgia against former President Donald Trump and 14 of his allies.

Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade were accused of having an affair before and during the time they were investigating Trump for allegedly trying to steal the 2020 election. Willis hired Wade to help oversee the election fraud case in November 2021.

Willis and Wade admitted to having had a relationship, but they say it only began after Wade started working on the case. Wade was also accused of using some of the money he earned in the Trump case to take Willis on vacations.

Lawyers for Trump and some of his co-defendants alleged that the romantic relationship had created a conflict of interest in the Georgia case. However, Willis and Wade responded in a hearing last week that it had no bearing on the criminal case.

Here’s a rundown of who Willis is and a recap of the hearing.

Who is Fani Willis?

Willis was born in Inglewood, Calif., in 1971. Her father, John Clifford Floyd III, was a Washington, D.C. criminal defense attorney who raised Willis in D.C. as a single parent.

Willis graduated from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta in 1996, and she joined the Fulton County district attorney's office in 2001. In 2018, Willis opened her own law firm in Atlanta, where she specialized in criminal defense and family law, according to the Fulton County website.

She made history in 2021 when she became Fulton County’s first Black female district attorney after being elected the previous year.

Trump's effort to overturn the election in Georgia

In early January 2021, a recording of Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” 11,780 votes to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election became public.

Willis, a Democrat, previously told USA TODAY that she “knew an investigation may be warranted on day one… the literal physical day I walked into the office.”

Willis announced in February 2021 that she was launching an investigation of Trump's attempt to overturn the election in Georgia.

Trump and 18 of his allies were indicted in August 2023 on charges of violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, solicitation of violation of oath by public officer, and more. Four of Trump's co-defendants have pleaded guilty in the case. 

Willis' investigation is the main focus of the new book “Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election," by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.

Trump has bashed the Georgia election fraud case on Truth Social, claiming that it was a "fake case."

What happened at the hearing?

On Jan. 8, a lawyer for former Trump campaign official Michael Roman asked the court to disqualify Willis, Wade and the entire district attorney's office over the alleged relationship. Trump and another co-defendant joined the motion late last month.

On the witness stand last week, both Willis and Wade said their relationship had nothing to do with Trump.

"These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020,” Willis said during the hearing about Trump and his alleged co-conspirators. “I’m not on trial no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

Both of them testified that their relationship began in spring 2022 and ended in summer 2023. Floyd, Willis’ father, testified at the hearing that he hadn’t met Wade until last year. He also said that his daughter has had to move several times due to threats she faced from Trump supporters.

Wade said Willis repaid him in cash for trips they took together that he put on his credit card, but that he kept no evidence to corroborate it.

Defense lawyers argued the relationship began as early as 2019 and that Willis profited from it via the travel.

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee hasn't ruled on the allegations.

Contributing: Bart Jansen and Kevin Johnson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is Fani Willis accused of by Trump and his allies? What to know