‘A mystery to me:’ Attorney has no idea why he’s been subpoenaed over Willis affair allegations

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Channel 2 Action News has learned a potentially explosive hearing has just been scheduled for Monday in the Georgia election indictment case.

It involves the furor over the Fulton County District Attorney’s relationship with a special prosecutor on the election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke exclusively with a man subpoenaed in one of those hearings about why he’s fighting that subpoena.

Gabe Banks said as a former federal prosecutor, Fulton County gang prosecutor and now successful defense attorney, he’s had hundreds of subpoenas sent out to various witnesses for his cases.

But now he’s the target of a subpoena for his testimony at a hearing set for Feb. 15 before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee sparked by defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant’s efforts to have Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, and the whole DA’s office disqualified from the election interference case in part because of an alleged personal relationship between Willis and Wade.

“I don’t know why she subpoenaed me,” Banks said. “What I have to add is a mystery to me.”

Banks says he has filed a motion to quash his subpoena so he wouldn’t have to testify.

The DA’s office has also filed a motion to quash subpoenas for Willis, Wade and seven other people with the office.

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“Ultimately, it’s a complete fishing expedition,” Banks said. “As a former federal and state prosecutor, the reality is that even if at some point she believes that she has information that I may have, I mean you have to verify that information before you start issuing subpoenas.”

Merchant told Winne that she’ll fight the motions to quash, and she believes everyone she’s subpoenaed knows relevant details about Willis and Wade.

“You worked with Fani Willis when you were both prosecutors under a previous DA?” Winne asked Banks.

“Good friend of Fani Willis. Worked closely,” Banks said.

Banks said he served on her transition team with Wade and others and was offered the special prosecutor job before Wade was, but he doesn’t know what Merchant wants to ask him.

Banks said if Merchant wants to ask him when Willis and Wade started dating, he doesn’t know that.

The prosecution has said there was no personal relationship between Willis and Wade in November 2021 at the time of Special Prosecutor Wade’s appointment.

Banks said he expects a hearing on Monday on the motions to quash to set up the prospect of potentially two bombshell hearings before McAfee in one week on a national or even international stage.

“I think being a judge is a very good fit for him. And he has the right temperament, intellect, and dedication to justice. I think for the for the job he’s facing,” said former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak.

Pak told Winne that he hired McAfee as an assistant U.S. attorney and the young prosecutor handled some of the office’s most complex cases fairly.

“Being a federal prosecutor doesn’t mean that you have to be completely one-sided. I always found, Judge McAfee when he was an AUSA, to be very fair, very well respected with the people who he worked with. And he obviously was very smart, and I was very impressed with him,” Pak said.

Pak said he has watched McAfee’s handling of the election interference case through news reports.

“I’m very impressed with how he’s been able to handle things, and I don’t necessarily think that he’s going to get, any, you know, views of favoritism one side or the other, even though an outcome might not be popular to one side,” McAfee said.

Fellow Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney told Winne that McAfee is smart, thoughtful, also humble. So this isn’t about him, it’s about getting it right.

He said he’s got a good sense of humor which is important to keep everyone grounded in the law and not get lost in all the drama.

He called him an ideal judge for a very complicated and demanding situation.

The notice of Monday’s hearing does not mention Banks’ motion to quash.

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