Fani Willis’ timing of relationship with Trump prosecutor contradicted in Georgia hearing

Nathan Wade testified, ‘We’re private people. Our relationship isn’t a secret. It was just private’

Kelly Rissman
Friday 16 February 2024 14:04 GMT
Fulton County DA hearing gets underway

In a misconduct hearing that threatens the course of Donald Trump’s election interference case in Georgia, an Atlanta courtroom has heard contradictory timelines regarding the romantic relationship between the Fulton County District Attorney and a prosecutor.

Thursday’s hearing in Atlanta hinges not on whether Fulton County DAFani Willis and prosecutor Nathan Wade had a relationship — as the pair have already admitted they were romantically involved — but whether Ms Willis could be disqualified from the case. The defence has argued that the couple have financially benefited from Ms Willis hiring Mr Wade to prosecute the former president’s case.

The former DA’s office employee’s testimony came in direct contradiction to Nathan Wade’s testimony.

Robin Bryant-Yeartie, a former DA’s office employee and once “good friend” of Ms Willis, took the stand on Thursday morning. She testified that Ms Willis told her the pair first met at a municipal court judges conference in October 2019.

The pair “possibly” could have been dating in November 2019, Ms Bryant-Yeartie said.

“You have no doubt that their romantic relationship was in effect from 2019 until the last time you spoke with her?” defence attorney Ashleigh Merchant asked.

“No doubt,” she replied.

Mr Wade said his relationship with Ms Willis began in March 2022. His testimony on Thursday is consistent with the timeline he had written in a sworn affidavit. This would have been after Mr Wade began working for the DA’s office in November 2021.

He testified: “We’re private people. Our relationship isn’t a secret. It was just private.”

Ms Bryant-Yeartie, however, told the court that she had observed the couple “hugging and kissing.”

The defence also made assertions that Mr Wade was untruthful in his interrogatories in his divorce proceedings. Ms Merchant alleged that Mr Wade said he hadn’t had an affair with anyone in the divorce case, but told the court in the election interference case that he had had an affair in 2022.

Mr Wade undermined this claim, clarifying, “My marriage was irretrievably broken in 2015,” saying that she had an affair and they stayed together for their children.

“Because my marriage was irretrievably broken, I was free to have a relationship,” he said. “I did not have a relationship with anyone during the course of my marriage.”

The defence has also focused on potential financial dealings between the couple.

Ms Bryant-Yeartie testified that Ms Willis moved into her condo in April 2021, but clarified a previous misconception that the friends ever lived together. “I never lived with her,” Ms Bryant-Yeartie said, explaining that Ms Willis took over her lease after moving out from her father’s house.

Debunking another potential financial claim, Ms Bryant-Yeartie testified that Ms Willis — and only Ms Willis — paid the rent at the condo she was leasing from her friend and rejected the notion that Mr Wade ever paid the rent.

Ms Merchant pressed Mr Wade about bank statements that show he went on trips with the Fulton County DA. He described trips to California, Alabama, Tennessee, Belize, Aruba, and a cruise with Ms Willis and his mother.

“For safety reasons, she would limit her transactions. Imagine trying to walk through an airport or sit at a restaurant or do anything” as Ms Willis, he said. Mr Wade said she paid him back in cash.

He said the Belize trip was a birthday trip so “I paid zero” for that. She then paid for it in cash for both his and her portions.

Regarding the Napa, California trip, Ms Willis paid for the excursions so that everything was financially balanced. “She’s a very independent, proud woman so she’s going to insist she carries her own weight… She’s going to pay her own way.”

“In a relationship…you’re not keeping a ledger,” he said. Ms Willis “was emphatic and adamant about the independent woman thing,” Mr Wade said with a smile.

In “early 2022” Mr Wade said he went to Tennessee with Ms Willis for a “day trip” to “drive there, have lunch, and come back.” She kept getting a lot of attention locally so “we would get in my car” and drive to “some place off the beaten path and have lunch,” Mr Wade testified.

He said they’ve also done the same in Alabama.

Mr Wade, his mother, and Ms Willis took a cruise together in 2022. Then, his mom went home as the pair went to Aruba, he testified.

The hearing continues on Thursday.

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