Controversial criminal case against Trump set to implode

March 1, 2024
by
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Georgia attorney Ashleigh Merchant represents former Trump campaign official Michael Roman, one of 19 co-defendants in the criminal case that controversial Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has brought against former President Donald Trump. Merchant filed a motion in January that thrust Willis’s relationship with attorney Nathan Wade, whom she had hired as a special prosecutor in the case, into the national spotlight.

The filing alleged that Willis hired Wade because she was romantically involved with him and did so without obtaining approval from the Fulton County Commission, which is required by state law. It also claims their romantic relationship predated Wade’s hiring. Therefore, according to the motion, "the entire prosecution is invalid and unconstitutional."

Terrence Bradley, Wade’s former divorce attorney, law partner, and friend took the stand on Tuesday to answer questions about when the romantic relationship between Willis and Wade started. If it can be established that the affair began before the time Willis hired Wade, then the pair – and potentially the whole district attorney’s office – could be disqualified from the case.

This could, in turn, delay and ultimately even derail the entire case against Trump.

Although Merchant obtained information about the relationship from Wade's estranged wife, much of her knowledge came from a lengthy series of text message exchanges with divorce attorney Bradley. The exchanges began in September, but most of their discussions occurred in January.

Bradley was extremely forthcoming in his communications with Merchant and seemed eager to help her with the investigation. He confirmed to Merchant that the romantic relationship between Willis and Wade began shortly after they had met in 2019, long before Wade was hired as a special prosecutor. Willis and Wade have each claimed in writing and sworn testimony that their friendship did not turn romantic until after Wade had been hired.

However, despite his earlier cooperation with Merchant, Bradley was the ultimate reluctant witness when he took the stand on Tuesday. His responses were punctuated with long pauses and repeated claims of not being able to recall events or even text messages he'd written as recently as January. He told the court he had no personal knowledge about the relationship between Willis and Wade. When directly asked why he told Merchant in a text message that the relationship had begun before Willis hired Wade, Bradley said, "I was speculating, and I never witnessed anything. It was speculation."

Late Tuesday night, Cobb County attorney and Townhall columnist Phil Holloway obtained copies of the text message history between Bradley and Merchant which he revealed on the Wednesday edition of the Megyn Kelly Show. (Holloway posted the key text messages on X.)

He told Kelly that under Georgia state law, the text messages are considered "prior inconsistent statements," and are considered "substantive evidence" in the eyes of the law. If a witness contradicts something he has said or written before, he explained, the judge or jury is entitled to access both and can decide for themselves which one is more credible. Holloway said the text messages "are like a photo from a crime scene that the judge can use to base any rulings in the case."

He noted that the text messages corroborate the testimony of a previous witness, Robin Yearte, a former friend of Willis's and an ex-employee at the Fulton County District Attorney's office. She told the court there was "no doubt" the affair began before Nov. 1, 2021, the date that Willis hired Wade.

Last Friday, Trump’s attorneys submitted a filing that allegedly shows Willis and Wade exchanged more than 2,000 cell phone calls and nearly 12,000 text messages in the first 11 months of 2021. According to the Washington Times, “cellphone records show Wade visited the Atlanta-area neighborhood where Willis lived nearly three dozen times before he was hired.”

Heritage Foundation senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, weighed in on the prospect of Willis and Wade or even the entire office being removed from the case in a January op-ed. He noted there are "approximately 2,300 district attorney offices" in the U.S. and that "recusals by individual offices happen regularly."

He continued: "When a conflict of interest exists, or even the appearance of such a conflict or impropriety, a district attorney will recuse not only the individual prosecutor handling the case but the entire district attorney’s office, regardless of the procedural stage of a criminal case."

A huge conflict of interest is present in the Willis/Wade case. At the very least, "the appearance of such a conflict or impropriety" exists. The remedy, Spokovsky explained, would be for the case to "be handled by another prosecutor in a different county in the same state. That prosecutor would take a fresh look at the charges and make an independent decision regarding the validity of the prosecution."

Closing arguments in the case will be heard today, and then the decision to disqualify Willis and Wade – or not – will lie in the hands of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee.

McAfee is a 34-year-old former prosecutor and inspector general who was appointed to his current position by Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Ga., in February 2023. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that McAfee once "worked under Willis" and that friends described him as "driven and mild-mannered with conservative credentials."

A great deal will be riding on McAfee’s decision.

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