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Fulton County prosecutors decline to call Fani Willis to return for questioning

Fani Willis not returning to witness stand
Fani Willis not called back to stand for questioning; her father testifies 04:27

Fulton County prosecutors declined to call District Attorney Fani Willis to the witness stand for additional questioning Friday, after she forcefully defended herself and accused defense attorneys of lying as part of a bid to disqualify her and her office from prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump.

Lawyers representing Trump and several of his co-defendants and prosecutors gathered for the second day of testimony in an evidentiary hearing, during which witnesses including John Clifford Floyd III, Willis' father, and Terrence Bradley, Wade's former law partner and divorce attorney, answered questions about the relationship between Wade and Willis.

The hearing, which lasted less than seven hours, stemmed from defense attorneys' allegations that Willis engaged in an improper relationship with Wade, whom she hired to work on the racketeering case against Trump, and financially benefited from it. 

Willis testified for roughly two hours Thursday, during which she fiercely pushed back on the accusations and accused the defense lawyers of lying.

A lawyer for Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official, first raised the allegations about Willis and Wade last month and is seeking to have prosecutors involved in the case disqualified and the indictment dismissed. Trump and his allies are accused of orchestrating a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It's unclear when McAfee will make a decision on Roman's efforts to kick Willis and her office off the case and have the charges tossed out, though additional proceedings are expected.

Both Wade and Willis testified Thursday, providing details about the origins of their relationship, trips they took together, their finances and other aspects of their relationship. They confirmed in a court filing earlier this month that they began a romantic relationship in early 2022, months after Willis appointed Wade special prosecutor to work on the sprawling racketeering case involving Trump. But the district attorney has called the allegations "salacious" and rejected the claims that she benefited financially from the relationship.

"You've been intrusive into people's personal lives," Willis told Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Roman. "You're confused. You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial. I object to you getting any personal records of mine."

She called implications made by Merchant in court filings about the start of her relationship with Wade "highly offensive" and said her interests were "contrary to democracy."

Prosecutors in her office still planned to call at least three witnesses to answer questions Friday, including her father.

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes on why he wouldn't serve as special prosecutor in Trump election interference case

Proceedings kicked off Friday morning with testimony from former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat. Barnes was Willis' first choice to serve as special prosecutor, and he said he often consults to help on major cases.

"I had mouths to feed at a law office and that I could not, I would not do that," Barnes said of his conversation with Willis about declining to assist with the case, adding "I told D.A. Willis I lived with bodyguards for four years, and I didn't like it, and I wasn't going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life."

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens briefly attended the proceedings, watching Barnes' testimony.

Bradley arrived at the court to provide testimony after a doctor's appointment delayed his appearance. McAfee warned that Bradley, who also appeared Thursday, may be in violation of a subpoena as a result of his conflict.

Bradley testified that he had "no personal knowledge of" when the pair's relationship began, and said any information he learned about it was in his capacity as Wade's lawyer. He said he began acting as Wade's attorney around 2017 or 2018, and was retained for Wade's divorce proceedings.

During his exchange with Merchant, Bradley read aloud text messages he exchanged with her, including one sent in January after Merchant learned that Wade took Willis to Napa, California, and paid for it using his business credit card.

"Is he that dumb?" Merchant texted Bradley, according to the message he read aloud from the witness stand.

Willis and Wade both acknowledged Thursday that they visited California together last year and split the costs associated with the trip.

During a line of questioning about travel, Bradley recalled Wade used his business credit card to pay for one trip, though he said he did not know whether it was related to the case.

"It was a trip, but I cannot accurately state where it was or who it was with," he said, adding that Wade likely reimbursed him for with a cash or check.

Bradley said his business card was routinely used to pay for court filings or other office-related expenses at the firm he led with Wade.

But Wade testified Thursday, "I've never used Mr. Bradley's credit card. I've never used anyone else's credit card. Not even my father's. And we have the same name."

Cross-examination of Bradley by Anna Cross, of the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, revealed that he left the firm he shared with Wade after he was accused of sexual assault. Bradley denied the allegation.

Fani Willis' father, John Clifford Floyd III, testifies about threats to family and when he met Nathan Wade

Prosecutors questioned  Floyd, Willis' father, about his time living at his daughter's home in Fulton County and whether he had ever met Wade. Floyd, a criminal defense attorney and former Black Panther, testified that Willis moved out of her home in early 2021 after several incidents that prompted concerns for her safety.

Floyd recalled death threats targeting him, his daughter and grandchildren, and strangers coming to Willis' house. He said on one occasion, derogatory and racist words were spray-painted on the home.

"I was concerned for her safety," he said, adding that he remained in the house to protect it. 

Willis moved from her house in Fulton County into a condo owned by a former longtime friend, Robin Bryant-Yeartie, who delivered damaging testimony Thursday that claimed Wade and Willis' relationship pre-dated his hiring in November 2021.

Appearing via Zoom, Yeartie said Willis also told her she was engaged in a romantic relationship with Wade in 2020 and 2021, and testified that she witnessed "hugging, kissing" and "just affection" between the two.

During his testimony, Floyd said he met a former boyfriend of Willis' in 2019 and 2020 — a DJ he called "Deuce" — but said he was not introduced to Wade until 2023, when he was participating in an interview with journalist Michael Isikoff at the district attorney's office. He said he didn't learn about their personal relationship until it became public earlier this year.

"She kept that a secret from you, correct?" Steven Sadow, who is representing Trump, asked Floyd. "Correct," he replied.

Floyd said he also didn't know Wade was accompanying Willis on trips to the Bahamas, Aruba, Belize and California, in 2022 and 2023.

"I knew that my daughter had gone, but I did not know who she went with or what the circumstances were," he said.

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