A Georgia judge on Monday said it was possible Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis could be disqualified from Donald Trump’s election interference case based on a romantic relationship she is alleged to have conducted with the lead prosecutor.
Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the Trump case, cleared the way for an evidentiary hearing to be held on Willis’ relationship with Nathan Wade, a prosecutor she hired, later this week.
“Because I think it’s possible that the facts alleged by the defendant could result in disqualification, I think an evidentiary hearing must occur to establish the record on those core allegations,” McAfee said at Monday’s hearing, according to ABC News.
The judge made it clear, however that the evidentiary hearing would only establish the facts of the alleged relationship insofar as they related to “the existence and extent” of any financial conflict of interest for either prosecutor.
The decision is a setback for Willis, who had sought to have the hearing canceled.
She was first accused of the improper relationship by Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney representing Trump co-defendant Mike Roman, in a court filing last month.
McAfee said Monday that Roman’s defense team was able to establish a “good faith basis” for its claims of impropriety—though the judge reiterated that no determination would be made until after Thursday’s hearing.
“I don’t see how I can make that determination on the front end without live testimony subject to cross-examination,” Judge McAfee said. “With each one of these witnesses, I would defer the ruling until we get further into the hearing itself.”