Trump cites allegations of improper relationship in effort to dismiss Georgia election charges

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ATLANTA — Former President Donald Trump moved Thursday to adopt a motion to dismiss the election interference charges against him in Georgia, with his lawyer pointing to allegations of an improper romantic relationship between Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade.

Trump’s lead defense counsel requested a dismissal of the indictment and disqualification of Wade, Willis and her office from the case, alleging that she “wrongfully inserted racial animus” into the case in a recent speech.

“Although this Court may not have the authority to disbar DA Willis, it certainly does have the power to dismiss the indictment and to disqualify her, the special prosecutors she hired and her office from any further involvement in this case or any related matter, and should do so here,” Trump attorney Steve Sadow said in the court filing.

The motion to dismiss was originally filed by Trump co-defendant Michael Roman.

Sadow said in a statement that the motion filed Thursday seeks to hold Willis legally accountable for both "her misconduct alleged in a motion filed by Mr. Roman as well as her extrajudicial public statements falsely and intentionally injecting race into this case."

The court filing alleged Willis potentially tainted the jury pool in a Martin Luther King Day speech at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta, during which she asked why the one Black special prosecutor was being attacked but not the two white prosecutors.

Sadow said in the filing., “The DA’s extrajudicial comments ... constitute a glaring, flagrant, and calculated effort to foment racial bias into this case by publicly denouncing the defendants for somehow daring to question her decision to hire a Black man (without also mentioning that she is alleged to have had a workplace affair with the same man) to be a special prosecutor.

“These assertions by the DA engender a great likelihood of substantial prejudice towards the defendants in the eyes of the public in general, and prospective jurors in Fulton County in particular," he added. "Moreover, the DA’s self-serving comments came with the added, sought after, benefit of garnering racially based sympathy for her self-inflicted quagmire.”

Sadow said that Willis had violated the state's rules of professional conduct and that she deserves to be sanctioned and disqualified.

The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Willis has not responded to the allegations of an improper relationship. A judge has given her until Feb. 2 to file a written response with the court. Willis' office said she plans to do so.

Roman's attorney this month said in a 39-page filing seeking dismissal of the charges against his client that Willis and Wade have traveled together to destinations including Napa Valley, California, and that they have been seen together around Atlanta in a personal capacity.

The filing requested that Willis, Wade and the DA's office be barred from prosecuting the case because the two "engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case, which has resulted in the special prosecutor, and, in turn, the district attorney, profiting significantly from this prosecution at the expense of the taxpayers."

A separate court filing last week in Wade's ongoing divorce proceedings included credit card statements that revealed that Wade and Willis bought plane tickets for Willis for trips together.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has set a hearing for Feb. 15 to address the motion to dismiss and the misconduct allegations concerning Willis and Wade.

Roman worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020. He is accused of conspiring to organize “alternate electors” to cast votes for Trump after President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, in addition to the racketeering charge.

Four defendants have pleaded guilty. Roman, Trump and the other co-defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Blayne Alexander reported from Atlanta and Rebecca Shabad from Washington.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com