Personal questions, and a witness stays mum: key moments from the Fani Willis hearing

Personal questions, and a witness stays mum: key moments from the Fani Willis hearing

On the first day of a heated hearing, the Fulton county district attorney Fani Willis and her deputy, special prosecutor Nathan Wade, took the stand, hoping to put an end to the allegations that their past relationship threatens the criminal case against Donald Trump and his allies in their attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

A defendant in the Trump case, Mike Roman, is seeking to have Willis and Wade disqualified, alleging their relationship constituted a conflict of interest. His lawyer attempted to prove Willis financially benefitted from her relationship with Wade.

If Roman is successful in having Willis relieved from bringing the case, it would result in the disqualification of the entire district attorney’s office.

Here were some key moments from the hearing on Thursday.

A key witness decided to stay mum

Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of Nathan Wade, was supposed to be the witness that set up the dominoes to fall by testifying that the district attorney’s relationship began earlier than Wade had asserted in an affidavit. Superior court judge Scott McAfee implied that a decision to quash subpoenas for Wade, Willis and others depended in part on whether Bradley’s testimony was powerful enough to overcome suspicions that the whole legal gambit was a fishing exercise and a distraction.

But Bradley, who served as Wade’s divorce lawyer for a time, cited attorney-client privilege and refused to testify about the details of his knowledge about the relationship between Wade and Willis.

For a moment, it appeared that this would be the beginning and end of the hearing.

A former friend gave perhaps the most damning testimony – if true

Robin Bryant-Yeartie, a former friend of Willis’s, testified that she was aware that Willis was romantically engaged with Wade. Bryant-Yeartie said they had started dating in 2019, before Willis had been elected as district attorney and before Donald Trump’s “perfect phone call” to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensberger, which set off the investigation.

Bryant-Yeartie’s testimony directly contradicted Wade’s sworn statement in an affidavit in his divorce case, which said he had not been involved in a relationship with someone else while still married. Prosecutors noted in Willis’s defense that Bryant-Yeartie and Willis had had a falling out and that Bryant-Yeartie had left the district attorney’s office in acrimony, but the testimony was enough to open the door, compelling Wade, and then later Willis, to take the stand.

Wade was backed into a corner, but he still surprised the court

Wade’s testimony had twists and turns, revealing more of the timeline and that he had cancer in 2020, limiting his time for outside relationships during the pandemic. He also tried to underscore the way he and Willis say they shared the bills: with him paying by credit card and her reimbursing him with cash.

skip past newsletter promotion

But the lawyers, with their persistence, sometimes left him with no choice but to be direct.

“Are you asking me if I had intercourse with the district attorney?” Wade said, after attorney Steve Sadow asked him if they had any kind of personal relationship after June 2023. Wade said no and that he has had no romantic relationship since.

Fani came to fight, her way

Originally objecting to taking the stand, Willis essentially overrode her lawyers to testify on Thursday afternoon. “I’m ready to go,” she said.

With the spotlight on her, Willis attempted to explain and rebuff every allegation, and refocus the message. Sometimes, she was cheeky. “He likes wine. I don’t really like wine, to be honest with you,” she said, when explaining a trip to Napa Valley with Wade. “I like Grey Goose.”

At other times, she called the lawyers liars, and tried to circumvent the questions to send a message to the public. “You’re confused … I’m not on trial,” she said to attorney Ashleigh Merchant. “These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020.”

Read More

Laisser un commentaire

Your email address will not be published.