Trump Georgia election judge may force D.A. to testify in disqualification hearing

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis attends a Harrison Floyd bond revocation hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Nov. 21, 2023.

Dennis Byron | Reuters

The judge in the Georgia election criminal case against Donald Trump seemed inclined Monday to allow a subpoena for testimony from District Attorney Fani Willis at an upcoming hearing to potentially disqualify her from the case.

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee, at a hearing, said Willis’ testimony appears relevant to a bid by Trump and some of his co-defendants to remove her from the case due to her romantic relationship with a key subordinate, Nathan Wade. Willis appointed Wade as special prosecutor for the Trump case.

“I don’t see how quashal can be imposed here,” McAfee said, using the legal term for voiding a subpoena.

But McAfee said he would hold off on making a final ruling on Willis’ request to void the subpoena for her testimony from one of Trump’s co-defendants until after another witness, Terrance Bradley, testifies Thursday at the disqualification hearing.

Bradley is Wade’s former business partner.

McAfee also held off on ruling on motions to quash subpoenas for Wade and other employees of Willis’ office at Monday’s hearing.

The judge did quash a subpoena for Wade’s bank records, which some of the defendants wanted to enter into evidence to support their allegations that he paid for vacations with Willis while he was heading a team investigating and prosecuting Trump.

Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer for Trump’s co-defendant Michael Roman, told the judge, “We have a right to explore whether or not there was a personal or financial benefit to Willis’ relationship and we have carefully chosen the witnesses that we have subpoenaed based on that.”

Merchant dismissed the idea of relying on a written affidavit by Wade in determining whether Willis and he should be disqualified from the case.

“It’s nothing more than hearsay,” Merchant said of the affidavit.

She noted that in Wade’s divorce case last year, he filed an affidavit saying he did not have a relationship with anyone other than his wife, but later changed that to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against disqualification.

Anna Cross, the attorney who represented Willis at the hearing, said McAfee should quash the subpoenas.

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“The defense is not bringing you facts. The defense is not bringing you law,” Cross argued. “The defense is bringing you gossip and the state cannot, and the court should not condone that.”

Trump and more than a dozen others are charged with crimes related to trying to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia to President Joe Biden.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in the case.

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