Fani Willis is testifying in a hearing that could disqualify her from Trump’s election lawsuit

(Alyssa Pointer/Associated Press)

Fani Willis is testifying in a hearing that could disqualify her from Trump’s election lawsuit


February 15, 2024

Fulton County Dist.




j. Fani Willis took the witness stand Thursday to defend herself against efforts to remove her from Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case, angrily pushing back against what she described as lies about her romantic relationship with a special prosecutor.

In an extraordinary moment during a hearing that could lead to disqualification from the case, a fiery Willis agreed to testify after a former friend and colleague said Willis’ relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade began earlier than they had claimed. Willis and Wade both tested that they started dating in 2022, after he was hired as a special prosecutor.

Willis’ lawyers had initially fought to keep her off the witness stand, but Willis said she was keen to set the record straight, saying: It is very insulting when someone lies to you.

Do you think I’m on trial? These people are on trial for trying to steal the 2020 election. I’m not on trial no matter how hard you try to bring me to justice, Willis said under questioning by attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who wants Willis and her office removed. out of the case.

Robin Yeartie, a former friend and colleague of Willis, testified earlier Thursday that Willis began a relationship with Wade before he was hired as special prosecutor in November 2021. During personal and uncomfortable testimony that lasted for hours, Wade also admitted to having sex with Willis. during his divorce from his estranged wife.

That admission and Yeartie’s testimony together threaten to undermine the prosecutor’s credibility and upend the case against Trump and others accused of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Trump and his co-defendants have argued that the relationship presents a conflict of interest that should keep Willis from the case. Wade tried to downplay the matter by portraying himself and Willis as private individuals.

There is nothing secret or salacious about having a private life, he said. Nothing.

Wade said the relationship ended last summer, but he remains good friends with Willis. He added that because of these attacks, they were probably closer than ever.

But the hours of probing questions for Wade underscored the extent to which the prosecutors who vowed to hold Trump accountable are now themselves under a public microscope, with revelations about their personal lives distracting from Trump’s own behavior and threatening to implicate one of the four suspects. to derail. He confronts as he tries to win back the White House.

If Willis were disqualified, a board supporting Georgia prosecutors would find a new attorney to take over, who could either move forward with charges against Trump and 14 others or drop the case altogether.

Merchant claims that Willis personally profited from the case, paying Wade more than $650,000 for his work and then profiting when Wade used his earnings to pay for vacations the couple took together.

Wade, who took the stand after the judge refused to quash a subpoena for his testimony, tested that he and Willis traveled to Belize, Aruba and California together and took cruises together, but said Willis reimbursed him in cash for certain travel expenses he had made. charged to his credit card.

“She was very emphatic and adamant about this independent, strong woman thing, so she demanded she pay her own money,” Wade said.

Wade was pressured by attorneys to answer uncomfortable questions about his relationship with Willis, prompting objections from the district attorney’s office. The hearing began with lengthy sparring between lawyers over who should answer the questions. This is expected to last until Friday.

Willis’ removal would be a stunning development in the most expansive of the four criminal cases against Trump. Even if a new lawyer were to pursue the case, it would most likely not go to trial before November, when Trump is expected to be the Republican nominee for president. At a separate hearing in New York on Thursday, a judge ruled that Trump’s hush money criminal trial will proceed as planned, with jury selection to begin on March 25.

In a court filing earlier this month, Willis’ office emphasized that she has no financial or personal conflict of interest and that there are no grounds to dismiss the case or remove her from prosecution. Her filing called the allegations salacious and said they were designed to make headlines. Wade said in an affidavit filed with the court that their relationship began after he was hired and that they never lived together.

Since the allegations of an inappropriate relationship came to light, Trump has used them to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Willis’ case against him. Other Republicans have cited them in calling for investigations into Willis, a Democrat up for re-election this year.

Roman’s attorney, Merchant, subpoenaed Willis, Wade, seven other employees of the district attorney’s office and others, including Wade’s former business partner, Terrence Bradley. Bradley took the witness stand earlier Thursday but declined to answer Merchant’s questions, citing attorney-client privilege.


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