Four most shocking revelations in the hearing to remove Fani Willis in major Trump trial

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘s case against former President Donald Trump could end up crumbling despite her record of success in turning his former allies against him.

A Georgia state Senate panel provided a platform for a defense attorney to discuss allegations regarding Willis’s relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade.

The Republican-led committee heard more than three hours of testimony on Wednesday from defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents Trump co-defendant Mike Roman and brought to light allegations of a romance between Willis and Wade in January court filings. 

Last week, a Georgia judge heard closing arguments over removing Willis in the case against Trump, and Merchant reiterated several of the most shocking revelations on Wednesday.

Midnight visits

Defense attorneys highlighted Wade’s cellphone data in multiple hearings over the past weeks, claiming the data show he made several visits, including some in the middle of the night, to the area Willis was living at the time in late 2021, before the pair testified to starting their relationship. 

Wade and Willis have said their relationship started in early 2022, after Willis picked him in November 2021 to lead the 2020 election investigation into Trump and his Republican allies. 

“It’s pinging from his house all the way down to the condo at midnight, 1 a.m. And then he calls her when he gets there,” Merchant said. “And then it goes silent for four or five hours. And then, you know, early in the morning hours, he starts pinging again, driving back, and then he texts her when he gets home.”

Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow filed a motion in February, claiming several visits were proved by cellphone data obtained by a private investigator via cell tower data and information from Wade. 

Double-or-nothing salary 

Records revealed in January showed Wade was paid over half a million dollars more than other special prosecutors on the case against Trump. An attorney for Roman, a former White House aide who is one of 18 allies charged by a Georgia grand jury with allegedly trying to overturn state election results, said Wade’s substantial salary was a result of his relationship with Willis. 

Public records from Fulton County show Wade’s firm has received more than $650,000 in public funds since November 2021. Special prosecutor Anna Cross’s firms earned around $91,000 in 2022 and 2023 from the district attorney’s office, while special prosecutor John Floyd’s law firm earned about $73,000 between 2022 and 2023. 

Wade is the lead prosecutor in the Georgia election interference case against Trump, and his arrangements with the district attorney’s office under his contract are likely different from those of his fellow special prosecutors. 

Cash reimbursements

Willis has been accused of financially benefiting from the relationship when Wade used his income from work to pay for trips. Wade and Willis said she reimbursed him for trips, paying cash for hotels and other travel expenses. 

Last week, Merchant asked the Fulton County district attorney if she had any “proof” she reimbursed Wade in cash for trips.

Willis, who testified she always pays in cash when she travels, claimed she reimbursed Wade for vacations to Napa Valley, California, Aruba, the Bahamas, and Belize. Wade also said she “paid for the excursions, so the expenses sort of balanced out” and, on at least one occasion, paid him back for flights and other expenses. 

Merchant pressed Willis over her reimbursement claim, asking for additional proof, but Willis argued that “the testimony of one witness is enough to prove a fact” and was not able to provide further proof. 

Meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris

Merchant provided the Georgia state Senate panel White House records showing Willis and the Atlanta mayor had a meeting there on Feb. 28, 2023. The meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris was held months before Willis indicted Trump and his allies in August. 

“My understanding is that it’s highly regulated who can access the White House … so you have to apply ahead of time,” Merchant said. The White House records displaying the meeting are open to the public.

Merchant claimed Willis might have obtained information from the White House used in Georgia’s indictment against the former president but was unable to provide any other context about the meeting. 

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Willis’s logged visit, shown in a screenshot, lists her among a group of about 450 people logged at the “side lawn/tent” at the vice president’s residence. 

A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office told CNN the meeting was not a secret and that Willis was there to attend a Black History Month event at the Naval Observatory with hundreds of others, only seeing Harris onstage from a distance.

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