Trump lawyers offer new witnesses in effort to disqualify Fannie Willis in Georgia

Trump lawyers offer new witnesses in effort to disqualify Fannie Willis in Georgia

Defense attorneys in the Georgia election meddling case against former President Donald J. The Trumps say they want to put someone on the bench whose testimony they can support their claim that Terence Bradley, a witness in their effort to disqualify the prosecutors prosecuting the case, gave misleading testimony.

The new information comes from Cindy Lee Yeager, a deputy district attorney in neighboring Cobb County, Georgia, whom lawyers said they spoke to on Friday about conversations she had with Mr. Bradley.

At issue is a key issue in the impeachment effort: the timing of a romantic relationship that developed between Fannie T. Willis, who as Fulton County district attorney led the prosecution of Mr. Trump, and Nathan Wade, an Atlanta-area lawyer she hired to lead the case.

Ms Willis and Mr Wade said a romance developed between them after she hired him in November 2021. But defense lawyers have sought to argue that the romance began earlier.

If they are correct that Ms. Willis hired a boyfriend for a lucrative, high-profile job, it may support their argument that she was “self-employed” when she took several vacations with Mr. Wade and on this way has created a conflict of interest, which should lead to her removal from the case.

Defense lawyers believed that Mr. Bradley, a former lawyer for Mr. Wade who also served for a time as Mr. Wade’s divorce lawyer, could shed some light on when the affair began. But that didn’t happen. In a text message exchange in January, he told one of the defense attorneys in the case that he “absolutely” thought the affair began before Ms. Willis hired Mr. Wade.

But when called last week, Mr Bradley said he was “speculating”.

In a statement Monday, attorneys for David J. Shaffer, a co-defendant in the case, said they had spoken to Ms. Yeager, who said that Mr. Bradley had told her that the relationship between the prosecutors began before Mr. Wade left to work for Ms. Willis .

The filing states that, according to Ms. Yeager, Mr. Bradley told her that “Mr. Wade had finally begun a romantic relationship with Ms. Willis by the time Ms. Willis ran for district attorney in 2019-2020.

According to the filing, Ms. Yeager said she also heard Ms. Willis call Mr. Bradley last September, prompted by a news story that mentioned how much her office was paying Mr. Wade and his law partners . (Mr. Bradley’s work for the office is unrelated to the Trump case.)

“They’re coming after us,” Ms. Willis told Mr. Bradley during the conversation, according to the account offered by Ms. Yeager, which was outlined in defense documents. “You don’t need to talk to them about anything about us.”

The context of Ms. Willis’ alleged call to Mr. Bradley is not clear; In any event, this would have occurred before the disqualification effort began in January and before it was known that Mr. Bradley would be called to testify.

Mr Bradley testified last month that he “didn’t personally know” Ms Willis. “My interaction with Ms. Willis was never where I would pick up the phone and talk to her,” he said.

It is also unclear what impact, if any, Ms. Yeager’s statement might have on the judge’s decision whether to disqualify prosecutors. The judge, Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, has already finished testifying on the disqualification issue; on Friday he said he would rule on the matter within two weeks.

In their filing on Monday, Mr. Schafer’s lawyers asked the judge to allow them to put Ms. Yeager on the witness stand “in the event the court reopens the hearing to receive additional evidence.” They noted that Mr. Trump and Ms. Willis’ office had also asked the judge to allow additional testimony.

At a hearing Friday, Judge McAfee heard final legal arguments from both sides, but said he may hold a new hearing if evidence emerges that warrants it.

A lawyer for Mr. Bradley did not return calls seeking comment. Ms. Yeager, who previously ran for local office as a Republican but says she now considers herself a Democrat, declined to comment on Monday’s filing. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office office had no comment Monday, but Ms. Willis and her office described the disqualification effort as legally unfounded and an effort to generate obscene headlines.

If successful, efforts to remove Ms. Willis would throw the criminal case against Mr. Trump into disarray, forcing a state agency to find another prosecutor to take over. A new prosecutor could move to maintain, amend or dismiss the case against Mr. Trump, who was indicted in August with 18 allies on charges of plotting to overturn the former president’s 2020 election in Georgia.

Four defendants have since pleaded guilty.

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