Reaction Of Attorney Who Exposed Wade-willis Affair To Court Ruling On Disqualification Proceedings

Georgia attorney Ashleigh Merchant claimed vindication when a Fulton County judge ruled in District Attorney Fani Willis’ disqualification case.

Judge Scott McAfee issued an order Friday directing Willis to either withdraw herself and her team from the 2020 election interference case or remove Wade as special prosecutor. The ruling came after Merchant, on behalf of her client Michael Roman, initially claimed that Willis had an “improper” affair with Wade before employing him to prosecute former President Trump and his 18 co-defendants in 2021.

While we think the court ought to have completely disqualified Willis’ office, this opinion confirms that everything the defense presented was accurate, true, and pertinent to the issues involving our client’s right to a fair trial. The judge plainly agreed with the defense that Willis’ actions were the consequence of her poor judgment and that there is a risk to the case’s future if she does not move promptly to resolve her issue,” Merchant said in a statement.

“While we do not think that the courts’ suggested solution is acceptable in response to the district attorney’s reprehensible conduct, we eagerly await the district attorney’s response to the court’s demands. “We will continue to fight for our client,” she said.

Merchant was the first to claim in court documents that Willis had a conflict of interest in employing Wade, her then-boyfriend, to prosecute the election meddling case. She claimed that Willis benefited financially from the relationship through trips she took with Wade, whose company received payment from taxpayers for working on the Trump case.

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Merchant’s court documents indicated that Willis and Wade had taken multiple trips together, and Wade’s law business had billed taxpayers $650,000 at a cost of $250 per hour since his hiring.

Prior to his hire, Wade and Willis denied having a romantic relationship. During a two-day evidentiary hearing in February, they both admitted to splitting the cost of their combined travels. Willis informed the court that she paid Wade for her portion of the excursions in cash.

During a two-day evidentiary hearing in February, Merchant called witnesses to testify that the couple began their affair in 2019 after meeting at a conference.

Robin Yeartie, a former “good friend” of Willis and former employee at the DA’s office, testified that she saw Willis and Wade “hugging” and “kissing” and displaying “affection” prior to November 2021, and that she had no doubt that the two had been in a “romantic” relationship beginning in 2019 and lasting until she and Willis last spoke in 2022.

Willis discounted Yeartie’s evidence, claiming she no longer considers her a friend.

Terrence Bradley, Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney, was the defense’s star witness. Merchant probed Bradley on the witness stand last month about what and when he knew about their relationship.

Bradley, when questioned on oath, stated that he could not recall numerous specifics and timelines from conversations he had with former client Wade about Wade’s romantic relationship with Willis.

Merchant brought out text messages between her and Bradley in which she questioned Bradley about whether he thought the connection began before Willis hired Wade in 2021. Bradley replied “absolutely” throughout the SMS chat.

McAfee, on the other hand, stated on Friday that he was “unable to place any stock” in Bradley’s evidence.

McAfee’s decision stated that Bradley’s “inconsistencies, demeanor, and generally non-responsive answers left far too brittle a foundation upon which to build any conclusions.”

“While prior inconsistent statements can be considered substantive evidence under Georgia law, Bradley’s impeachment by text message did not establish the basis for which he claimed such sweeping knowledge of Wade’s personal affairs,” McAfee stated in a press release.

The judge decided that, while neither party could definitively verify when the relationship began, there was “an appearance of impropriety” that required either Willis or Wade to be removed from the Trump case.

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