Fani Willis misconduct hearing adjourns after 2nd day in Trump Georgia case

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A hearing to determine whether to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade from the case against former President Donald Trump continued Friday for a second day.

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An attorney for one of the 18 people who were charged alongside Trump accused the district attorney of having an inappropriate relationship with Wade that benefited her financially. Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Michael Roman, said that the two had a “clandestine personal relationship” that created a conflict of interest.

On the stand Thursday, Willis and Wade denied any wrongdoing.

Court adjourns for the day

Update 4:29 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee said evidence is closed for the day Friday.

McAfee working on setting up another hearing date depending on schedules. A date has not yet been set.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Austin Dabney called as next witness

Update 4:19 p.m. EST Feb. 16: The District Attorney’s office called their next witness, Austin Dabney. Dabney worked for a law firm that was run by Wade, Terrance Bradley and Chris Campbell.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Bradley dismissed

Update 4:07 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee has decided to dismiss Terrance Bradley from testifying for the day. McAfree ordered Bradley to keep in contact with his attorney and plan to meet again at a later date.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Court returns from brief recess

Update 3:49 p.m. EST Feb. 16: The courtroom has returned from a brief recess Friday afternoon. The plan is to continue for additional testimony.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Court takes a recess

Update 3:37 p.m. EST Feb. 16: The courtroom Friday afternoon broke for a brief recess.

-- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Bradley testified he “rarely saw” Willis, Wade together at DA’s office

Update 2:38 p.m. EST Feb. 16: During questioning, Terrance Bradley testified that he “rarely saw Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade together” in the District Attorney’s office. He claimed that Wade spent over half of his time at the District Attorney’s office.

Bradley said that the law firm did multiple contracts with Willis’ office.

-- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Attorneys spar over text messages

Update 1:40 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Ashleigh Merchant on Friday worked to get Wade’s law partner, Terrance Bradley, to answer questions one day after he claimed attorney-client privilege under questioning.

Bradley previously served as Wade’s divorce attorney. He insisted on the stand that he did not have personal knowledge of the relationship between Wade and Willis, saying that anything he knew came from his working as Wade’s attorney.

Merchant brought forth text messages between her and Bradley in an attempt to impeach Bradley. An attorney for the district attorney’s office objected, saying that the texts amounted to gossip between two lawyers.

Court resumes after lunch break

Update 1 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Court reconvened to hear testimony from Wade’s law partner, Terrance Bradley, at 1 p.m.

Court breaks until 1 p.m.

Update 12:10 p.m. EST Feb. 16: After hearing from Willis’ father, John Floyd, on Friday, court broke for lunch,

Attorneys are expected to return around 1 p.m. and hear from Wade’s law partner, Terrence Bradley.

Willis’ father testifies that he told her ‘always have some money’

Update 12 p.m. EST Feb. 16: Willis’ father, John Floyd, said that he told his daughter to always keep cash on her.

“I’m not trying to be racist, your honor, but you know — it’s a Black thing,” he said. “I was trained and most Black folks, they hide cash and they keep cash.”

He described an encounter at a diner in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when his daughter was young in which employees declined to take either his credit card, his debit card or any of his traveler’s checks.

“I had a $10 bill, and he said the bill for my wife at the time — Fani’s mother, Fani and myself was like $9.95,” he said. “I’ll always remember that.”

He added, “I’ve told my daughter, you keep six months worth of cash, always.”

Willis’ father says he learned about daughter’s relationship with Wade ‘when the other folks found out’

Update 11:55 a.m. EST Feb. 16: John Floyd, Willis’ father, testified Friday that he learned about Wade’s relationship with his daughter a few months earlier.

“I just found out when the other folks found out,” he said.

Earlier, he testified that Willis was dating another man who he knew as Deuce when he first moved in with her in 2019.

“I think he had a government job during the day, I don’t know what it was,” Floyd said, describing the man as a DJ. “All his stuff was always in the way and I always had to push it aside.”

He said Willis never told him about dating Wade.

Willis’ father testifies that she was dating another man in 2019

Update 11:40 a.m. EST Feb. 16: John Floyd, Willis’ father, said that when he first moved in with his daughter in 2019, she was dating a DJ that he knew as Deuce.

“I met him often,” he said.

He testified that he first met Wade in 2023, adding that he might have seen Wade earlier, during his daughter’s swearing-in ceremony.

Willis’ father, John Floyd, describes threats that prompted her to leave home

Update 11:35 a.m. EST Feb. 16: John Floyd, Willis’ father, described threats made against his daughter days after she was sworn in as Fulton County district attorney.

He said that a group of people appeared outside her home in early February 2021 who were “cursing and yelling and calling her the b-word and the n-word.” They left after a neighbor called authorities.

“It just — it was bizarre,” he said.

He testified that he feared for his daughter’s safety, saying she has faced “so many death threats.”

“They said they were going to blow up the house, they were going to kill her, they were going to kill me, they were going to kill my grandchildren. I mean, on and on and on,” he said.

South Fulton police kept a car in front of the house and occasionally had a person check for bombs.

“I knew that that was a house that my daughter had worked for,” he said. “It was a brand new house. She’s the only one who had ever lived there. It’s a four-bedroom, brand new house. ... Somebody needed to protect the house and I stayed there to basically take care of the house, take care of the yard.”

He said someone also vandalized the house at some point, leaving graffiti calling Willis derogatory names.

Willis approached Barnes to serve as special prosecutor

Update 11:05 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said he was approached by Willis sometime in 2021 about becoming the special prosecutor over Trump’s Georgia election case.

“I replied that I had mouths to feed at a law office and that I could not, I would not do that,” he said. “Also I just had a bad — well, I won’t say bad because it happens from time to time — but I just had (the) FBI ... report a fellow, a militia trainer, to me that said they were concerned that he was making threats against me.”

He added, “I told DA Willis that I’d 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.”

District Attorney’s Office calls former Gov. Roy Barnes to testify

Update 10:55 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Court returned Friday morning from a brief recess to continue testimony in the hearing to determine whether to remove Willis and Wade from Trump’s election subversion case in Georgia.

Attorneys had been waiting for Wade’s law partner, Terrence Bradley, to appear for questioning one day after he said he was barred from speaking about the relationship between Wade and Willis due to attorney-client privilege. Bradley represented Wade in his divorce.

As they wait, they agreed to allow the state to begin calling its witnesses. The District Attorney’s Office began by calling former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes.

Court goes into recess, Bradley to return to witness stand

Update 9:20 a.m. EST Feb. 16: The court went into recess shortly after convening on Friday morning to allow for an appearance from Wade’s law partner, Terrence Bradley.

Bradley declined to speak on Willis and Wade’s relationship on the stand on Thursday, citing attorney-client privilege. He previously represented Wade in his divorce and said that he didn’t have “independent knowledge” of their relationship.

A member of Bradley’s legal team earlier told Judge Scott McAfee that he would be delayed getting into court due to a doctor’s appointment on Friday, NBC News reported.

Willis dismissed from the stand

Update 9:10 a.m. EST Feb. 16: Attorneys representing the District Attorney’s Office declined to cross-examine Willis on Friday, dismissing her from testifying for a second day.

It was not immediately clear who would next take the stand.

Original report: Willis told Merchant on Thursday that she has been “intrusive into people’s personal lives.”

“You’re confused. You think I’m on trial,” she said. “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.”

The district attorney and Wade testified that they met in 2019 and began a romantic relationship in early 2022 that ended in the summer of 2023. Wade said he sometimes paid for Willis’ travel expenses on his business card and got reimbursement in cash. The district attorney testified that she frequently carried cash with her, a habit she got with encouragement from her father.

Robin Yeartie, a former friend of Willis’ who had a falling out with the district attorney in 2022, earlier told the court that the romantic relationship between Willis and Wade began in 2019. She said that she was sure that the relationship was ongoing in 2020 and 2021, adding that she saw them “hugging (and) kissing.”

On the stand, Wade denied that he was in a relationship with anyone at the time. He said that he was battling cancer in 2020 and part of 2021, and as such had to take additional precautions to isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.

“That prevented me from pretty much leaving … environments that aren’t sterile,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what might happen to the case against Trump and his co-defendants if Willis is disqualified. Pointing to the political and legal challenges, CNN reported that another prosecutor might not be willing to take up the case. Court proceedings could also be delayed past when voters go to the polls to pick the next president in November.

Trump has long been the frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Authorities filed charges against the former president, Roman and 17 others accused of racketeering to keep Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election. Four people — bail bondsman Scott Hall and attorneys Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis — have pleaded guilty to charges.

The former president and others charged in the case have denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

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