Testimony to Resume as Trump and Georgia Co-Defendants Seek D.A.’s Removal - The World News

Testimony to Resume as Trump and Georgia Co-Defendants Seek D.A.’s Removal

The judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump has ordered a key witness back to the stand, as the judge weighs whether Fani T. Willis, the prosecutor who brought the case, has a disqualifying conflict of interest.

The witness is Terrence Bradley, the former divorce lawyer and law partner of Nathan Wade, whom Ms. Willis hired to manage the Trump case. The ruling on Monday by Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court is a victory for Mr. Trump and his 14 co-defendants, as they seek to have Ms. Willis, Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis’s entire office removed from the high-stakes case.

The defense questioned Mr. Bradley during a court hearing earlier this month, in an attempt to find out whether Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis were being truthful about key details of a romantic relationship that developed between them, including their assertion that the romance began after Mr. Wade began working for Ms. Willis in November 2021.

Mr. Bradley declined at that time to answer questions related to what he knew about the romance, citing attorney-client privilege and other rules that shield lawyers from having to disclose communications with clients.

But the judge told the lawyers in the case in an email on Monday that “the court believes that the interested parties did not meet their burden of establishing that the communications are covered by attorney-client privilege, and therefore the hearing can resume as to Mr. Bradley’s examination.”

Mr. Bradley could be called back to the stand to testify as soon as Tuesday afternoon, according to a number of people familiar with the case.

The disclosure last month of the relationship between the two prosecutors is threatening to derail the ambitious racketeering case, which alleges that Mr. Trump and a number of his allies sought to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. Ms. Merchant and other defense lawyers are trying to convince the judge that the relationship between Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade created a conflict of interest that should disqualify them from the case.

Mr. Trump and other defendants contend that the two prosecutors engaged in “self-dealing,” because while Mr. Wade was being paid by the district attorney’s office, he was spending money on vacations that he took with Ms. Willis, including to the Caribbean and to Napa Valley in California. Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade have denied that there was any improper financial benefit, and have testified that they roughly split the costs of their vacations.

Judge McAfee appears to be scrutinizing the details of how they divided the costs. Delta Air Lines has provided records to the court that have been sealed, the judge said in an order filed Monday. Delta was among the airlines that Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade used for their private travel, previously released records have shown.

The court filing alleging the conflict of interest was made by Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer representing Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official. She has asserted that Ms. Willis began her romantic relationship with Mr. Wade before hiring him, making the conflict of interest more serious.

Steven H. Sadow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, has accused the prosecutors of lying about when the romance started.

Last week, Mr. Sadow presented the court with an affidavit describing phone records obtained through a subpoena that he said detailed “just under 12,000” calls and text messages between Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade in the first 11 months of 2021, before she hired him. The affidavit also said that cellphone location data suggested that on two occasions during that period, Mr. Wade was in the vicinity of Ms. Willis’s residence from late at night until dawn.

Ms. Willis’s office said the data “do not prove that Special Prosecutor Wade was ever at any particular location or address.”

In court this month, Ms. Willis testified that the romance ended before Mr. Trump was indicted in August 2023. During her dramatic testimony, she vigorously defended her conduct, and her case.

“These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020,” she told Ms. Merchant. “I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *