Fulton County DA Fani Willis Testimony Suddenly Halted

The district attorney will not testify on Friday, prosecutors said in court.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis Testimony Suddenly Halted
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis testifies during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., on Feb. 15, 2024. (Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s testimony in a court hearing on whether she should be disqualified in the Trump case ended early after state prosecutors opted against questioning her on Friday.

Ms. Willis was expected to take the stand again on Friday and confirmed in court that she would return after she testified on Thursday. But the state said during the second day in court on Friday that they have no further questions for the district attorney, and she did not appear for the hearing.

“The state has no further questions for Ms. Willis,” prosecutor Anna Cross said during the hearing.

Last month, a Trump co-defendant Michael Roman filed a motion accusing Ms. Willis of engaging in an improper relationship with Nathan Wade, her special prosecutor in the Trump case, saying she should be disqualified. Among other claims, the motion accused her of financially benefitting from the relationship with Mr. Wade, who is accused of using taxpayer funds to take her on vacations.

During her first day in court, while being questioned by Mr. Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, Ms. Willis took a combative tone and began accusing the lawyer of lying before Judge Scott McAfee called a break.

“You think I’m on trial,” Ms. Willis said Thursday. “These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020,” she added, pointing toward the table of defense attorneys “I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

Upon return from the break, the judge advised the parties involved to use decorum. But he later told Ms. Willis that he might strike her testimony if she continued to be combative on the stand.

“I’m going to have to caution you---you have to listen to the questions asked, and if this happens again and again, I’m going to have no choice but to strike your testimony,” the judge told the DA.

Defense attorneys, when questioning both Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis, pressed the pair on why there were no receipts when he took her on vacations. Mr. Wade said that he had no receipts and used his credit card to pay for those expenses, ultimately saying that Ms. Willis paid him back in cash, which she corroborated. However, neither provided any evidence of the cash payments.

“Did you pay him back? For the cruise and for Aruba?“ asked Ms. Merchant. “Yeah, I gave him his money before we ever went on that trip,” Ms. Willis said.

“And so when you got cash to pay him back on these trips, did you go to the ATM?” the defense attorney said. “No,” Ms. Willis added.

“So the cash that you would pay him, you wouldn’t get it out of the bank?” Ms. Merchant asked. “I have money in my house,” said the DA. “For many, many years I have kept money in my house.”

“I just have cash in my house,” Ms. Willis continued. “I don’t have as much today as I would normally have, but I’m building back up now.”

Earlier, Mr. Wade testified that he and Ms. Willis traveled together to Belize, Aruba, and California and took cruises together, but said she paid him back in cash for some travel expenses that he had charged to his credit card.

“She was very emphatic and adamant about this independent, strong woman thing so she demanded that she paid her own way,” Mr. Wade said.

Other issues that were brought up involved the timeline of their relationship. Both Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis said it started in 2022, but an earlier witness—a former friend of Ms. Willis who worked in the district attorney’s office—said that she saw them “hugging” and “kissing” in 2019.

An attorney for former President Trump, Steve Sadow, suggested that she wasn’t being truthful about their relationship. “I’m asking you whether or not prior to Nov. 1 of 2021, there was a romantic relationship with Mr. Wade?” Mr. Sadow asked.

Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade looks on during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Feb. 15, 2024. (Alyssa Pointer/Pool via Getty Images)
Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade looks on during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Feb. 15, 2024. (Alyssa Pointer/Pool via Getty Images)

In response, Ms. Willis said that she did “not consider our relationship to have become romantic until 2022,” adding that “I don’t consider my relationship to be romantic with him before that,” referring to Mr. Wade’s hiring as special prosecutor.

It’s unclear when the judge might rule on whether Ms. Willis and her office should be disqualified from the case. On Monday, he said she could be disqualified “if evidence is produced demonstrating an actual conflict or the appearance of one.”

Their relationship was first revealed by Ms. Merchant early last month. The lawyer has alleged that Ms. Willis personally profited from the case, paying Mr. Wade more than $650,000 for his work and then benefiting when Wade used his earnings to pay for vacations the pair took together.

Several co-defendants in the cast joined the motion, with Trump attorneys also alleging that Ms. Willis made inappropriate and racially charged statements at a church after she was accused of the relationship.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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