When Fani Willis’ relationship started key to Trump election fraud case

(The Center Square) – A hearing into whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had an improper relationship with an attorney she hired to prosecute the state’s election interference case against Donald Trump continued Friday without resolution.

The testimony of a key witness, Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of prosecutor Nathan Wade who represented Wade during his divorce, was repeatedly halted by objections and arguments from a room full of attorneys with opposing interests. Willis and Wade were romantic partners, but when that relationship began was a source of contention.

Bradley didn’t answer questions about when the relationship between Willis and Wade started because the judge was concerned it would involve attorney-client privilege. After all, Bradley served as Wade’s divorce attorney. That privilege came up repeatedly during the hearing and was the source of arguments throughout the hours-long hearing.

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee said some of the questioning would have to be done behind closed doors.

Defense attorneys have alleged that Willis and Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired, should be removed because of their romantic relationship. The judge said he wouldn’t make any decisions this week.

A lawyer for Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official, first raised the allegations about Willis and Wade and January. Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, and other defense attorneys are seeking to have prosecutors involved in the case disqualified and the indictment dismissed.

Defense lawyers allege Willis and Wade were dating in 2019 and 2020 – before she hired him for the case in November 2021 – and that she should be disqualified because she profited from the relationship.

On Thursday, Willis’ former friend Robin Bryant-Yeartie testified that Willis began a romantic relationship with Wade in 2019 shortly after they met at a judicial conference and years before Willis hired Wade. Willis said she did not have a romantic relationship with Wade before she hired him to prosecute the Trump case in 2021. Wade said the relationship started in March 2022. Willis said it began in early 2022.

Defense attorneys allege the relationship began much earlier and that Wade and Willis improperly benefited from that relationship.

The hearing at times eclipsed the matter that preceded it: The allegations that Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. In August 2023, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former state Republican Party Chair David Shafer, on charges they tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty.