Here It Comes: Judge Orders Wade Attorney to Testify About Fani

Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP

And it could come as early as this afternoon. After an in camera session with Terrence Bradley, Judge Scott McAfee ruled late last night that Nathan Wade's divorce attorney could not be shielded from testifying under a claim of attorney-client privilege. As a result, Bradley has to testify as to his personal knowledge about Wade's relationship wth Fani Willis.

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And given how hard Wade and Bradley fought to prevent this, one can presume that Bradley's story will line up better with the cell-phone records than the story told by Wade and Willis under oath:

A judge has determined that Nathan Wade’s former law partner and divorce lawyer must tell the court what he knows about the special prosecutor’s relationship with District Attorney Fani Willis – a decision that could produce more bombshell testimony as defense attorneys seek to disqualify the DA from prosecuting the Fulton County election interference case.

Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s chambers notified attorneys in the case by email late Monday that certain communications Terrence Bradley had with Wade are not protected by attorney-client privilege, according to numerous people who read the email. Bradley could be compelled to testify as soon as Tuesday afternoon. McAfee’s decision followed a closed-door meeting between the judge and Bradley on Monday that lasted nearly an hour and 20 minutes.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminded its readers last night, defense attorneys in the Georgia v Trump et al RICO case already have one witness that testified that Wade and Willis were lying. Robin Yeartie put the start of their romantic relationship years earlier, in 2019, not 2022 during the case. If that's true -- and having 2000 phone calls and 12,000 text messages in the ten months prior to Willis' hiring of Wade and Wade's divorce filing makes that seem very likely -- then Wade's law partner probably knows it. 

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And does Bradley really want to risk his law license by getting on the stand and contradicting that cell-phone data? 

Assuming Bradley doesn't risk a contempt charge by refusing to testify, things look pretty bleak for Wade, and especially for Willis. Newsweek reached out to Gerg Germain, a law professor at Syracuse, for reaction to the news that Judge McAfee would reopen testimony in the disqualification hearing. That's, um, bad for the Fulton County DA, Germain told Newsweek:

"It seems that the court is considering removing the DA and special prosecutor, and may require that the prosecution be taken over by another DA office, due to the appearance of impropriety from the relationship and coverup, should the judge believe that the relationship predated the prosecution, or that the DA received financial benefits from the lucrative role she gave to the special prosecutor," Germain said.

Germain noted that, in addition, Willis faces possible perjury charges.

"Willis could certainly be charged with perjury if a prosecutor can prove that Willis knowingly lied under oath."

"The matter would have to be referred to a prosecutor (presumably from another DA office, or state or federal prosecutor) to bring the charges."

Germain noted that it wasn't too common for prosecutors to press charges for perjury when people lie about personal relationships. (Bill Clinton enters the chat here.) Germain thinks Willis has more risk of getting prosecuted for misappropriation of public funds, especially now that it seems clear that Willis hired her lover to benefit them both, when Wade had no experience prosecuting felonies, let alone complex RICO cases. But committing perjury to cover that up is material to both the RICO prosecution and any subsequent investigation into Willis' use of funds. It also tends to make Willis' novel RICO approach look more and more like a grift to transfer taxpayer money into Wade's wallet at the expense of Trump et al.

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And, one assumes, the Georgia State Bar waits in the wings to deal with two attorneys who lied under oath. 

This decision seems to answer another question that has hung over the proceedings since the hearing. Critics of Judge McAfee wondered why he allowed Willis to performatively emote for most of a full afternoon on the stand, and then allowed her to call her father to testify on cash-hoarding. Some predicted that McAfee would back down or help Wilis get away with lying on the stand; I had thought that McAfee wanted to give her and Wade as much rope as they needed to hang themselves.

Refusing Bradley to claim privilege makes it look clear that McAfee isn't messing around. He may still not have made up his mind about what the truth is, but McAfee seems determined to get to it, and to get to it publicly

This decision and the cell-phone records have painted Wade and Willis into a corner. As I wrote last night in the headline, they may have a few hours left to call it quits and hope McAfee drops the matter. It may already be too late now, but retreat is really their only option at this point. 

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David Strom 8:16 PM | July 17, 2024
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