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Takeaways from testimony of the star witness in the effort to disqualify the Fulton County DA


By Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, Devan Cole and Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — A Georgia lawyer who had been billed as a star witness in the effort to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not deliver damaging testimony Tuesday on her romantic relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade.

Instead, the lawyer, Terrence Bradley, said he did not recall when asked a number of key questions during the two-hour hearing in Atlanta.

Most notably, he said he did not know when the relationship began – and whether it began after Willis hired Wade to spearhead the prosecution of Donald Trump and his allies. Bradley said he was speculating about the timeline.

Trump and over a dozen others are charged with conspiring to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. They have pleaded not guilty.

Here are key takeaways from the hearing:

Bradley said he has no knowledge of timing

Bradley, Wade’s former law partner and divorce lawyer, said – repeatedly – he didn’t know when the relationship between Wade and Willis began.

“I do not have knowledge of it starting, or when it started,” Bradley said at one point.

He repeated versions of that response throughout the hearing.

“I don’t recall any specific dates,” Bradley said at one point. “I don’t have anything — it wasn’t a specific date … There wasn’t something I can attribute to him telling me whatever. You are asking for a date, asking for a year … and I am telling you at this time I am telling you that I do not have the date.”

Ashleigh Merchant, the defense attorney leading the effort to disqualify Willis, asked whether the relationship began by January 2021, and Bradley again said he did not recall when he learned of the relationship.

“Judge, he doesn’t remember much of anything right now,” Merchant said.

Judge Scott McAfee appeared to be marking down the times Bradley said he didn’t know or couldn’t answer a question, said CNN’s Nick Valencia, who was in the courtroom.

Then Bradley says he was ‘speculating’

Bradley had told Merchant earlier this year, according to text messages, that Wade and Willis’ relationship began in 2019. Tuesday, Bradley said it was speculation.

“I was speculating, I didn’t have a – no one told me. I was speculating,” Bradley replied.

Bradley acknowledged that Merchant sent him a copy of her motion to dismiss Willis days before she filed it in January. That filing leveled allegations that Willis and Wade engaged in an improper romantic relationship from which Willis financially benefited.

“I said, ‘looks good,’” Bradley said earlier this month of his response via text to Merchant regarding her motion.

Hearing gets testy as lawyers take their shots at Bradley

Each defense attorney involved in the motion to dismiss Willis from the case got their turn to examine Bradley, often asking different versions of the same question: When did Willis and Wade begin dating?

Bradley’s answers often frustrated the attorneys.

“Mr. Bradley, ‘speculation’ is kind of a weaselly lawyer word,” defense attorney Richard Rice said at one point. “Let’s speak truth here and you’re under oath.”

Trump attorney Steve Sadow asked about Bradley’s motive to speculate about the relationship.

“Maybe you can tell the court in your own words, why in the heck would you speculate in this text message and say that it started when she left the DA’s office and was a judge in South Fulton,” Sadow asked.

“I don’t recall why I felt that it started at that time, but I do recall that he only met her – and I testified to that – that he met her at that [judges’] conference in 2019,” Bradley said, adding that he did not hear anything about the relationship from Wade that would lead him to that belief.

“Why would you speculate when she was asking you a direct question about when the relationship started?” Sadow pushed.

“I have no answer for that,” Bradley said.

“Except for the fact that you do, in fact, know when it started and you don’t want to testify to that in court,” Sadow shot back. “That’s the best explanation.”

Back in court on Friday

Tuesday’s hearing had been hastily added to the calendar after McAfee determined that Bradley did not have attorney-client privilege with Wade about the relationship with Willis.

On Friday, McAfee will hear closing arguments from counsel on both sides. McAfee said Tuesday he will allow attorneys to reference additional evidence, including cell phone data obtained by a private investigator working for Trump’s attorneys, under what is known as a proffer.

That means attorneys can use it to bolster their legal arguments about whether Willis should be disqualified without witness testimony. McAfee reserved the right to reopen evidence if he does not feel he has enough information to make a decision after Friday’s hearing.

McAfee is unlikely to rule from the bench after Friday’s hearing, meaning a decision on the future of the case against Trump and others could still be a week or two away.

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Article Topic Follows: Politics

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