Conclusions of the second day of hearings in the case of Georgia Trump

Lawyers for Donald J. Trump and his co-defendants in Georgia found themselves frustrated in their efforts to extract damaging information from a key witness on Friday as they tried to disqualify the lead prosecutors who have accused Mr. Trump and his allies of plotting to overthrow the 2020 election.

The defense argues that Fulton County District Attorney Fannie T. Willis and her office should be disqualified and removed from the prosecution, accusing her of benefiting financially from a romantic relationship with the special prosecutor she hired for the case, Nathan J. Wade.

If the judge removes them, it would delay and potentially derail proceedings that have major implications for the 2024 presidential election. Here are excerpts from the second day of the misconduct hearing:

Defense lawyers had high hopes of eliciting damaging testimony from Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of Mr. Wade who was also his divorce attorney.

But they were twice frustrated: Mr. Bradley did not appear to testify in the morning. Then, after taking the stand in the afternoon, he proceeded to assert attorney-client privilege in many matters.

That led to back-and-forth wrangling between defense attorneys and the district attorney’s office over what questions might be asked of him, and — at times — exasperation by a calm but clearly frustrated presiding judge, Scott McAfee.

Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer for one of Mr Trump’s co-defendants, took the unusual tactic of subpoenaing her mobile phone text messages she exchanged with Mr Bradley after learning Ms Willis and Mr Wade were dating.

Ms. Merchant hoped to establish that the relationship had begun before Mr. Wade was hired to lead Trump’s prosecution of Ms. Willis, who defense lawyers argued would be good for her if they dated and took expensive trips together.

But after more than two hours of questioning, Ms. Merchant and her fellow lawyers could get nothing out of Mr. Bradley who found that Mr. Wade was dating Mrs. Willis when she hired him.

Judge McAfee, however, said he would review two of Mr. Bradley’s text messages to determine whether they were subject to attorney-client privilege and therefore could not be disclosed.

After heated exchanges with defense attorneys during Thursday’s testimony, Ms. Willis was expected to return to the stand on Friday. But in a surprise move, her office said they had no further questions for her.

Instead, Ms. Willis’ father, John Floyd III, testified about death threats his daughter had faced in recent years, including when people appeared outside her home at 5:30 a.m. one morning yelling “the b word” and “on the n-word.”

Mr Floyd also supported Ms Willis’ testimony that she kept the money in her house, describing it as “black stuff”. Ms Willis said on Thursday she had reimbursed Mr Wade in cash for trips they had taken together.

“I always told my daughter, always keep six months’ worth of money,” Mr. Floyd said, adding that he gave his daughter her first cash box.

The district attorney’s office called former Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia, who testified that Ms. Willis also tried to hire him to handle the Trump case. The prosecution tried to show that Mr. Wade was not Mrs. Willis’ first choice, to establish that she had not hired him for personal gain.

Mr. Barnes, a prominent Georgia lawyer who presented a Michael Jordan-like figure to other lawyers in the courtroom, said he turned Ms. Willis down because the money wasn’t good enough and he didn’t want to deal with the hate and vitriol of prosecuting Mr. Trump. “I wasn’t going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life,” he said.

After adjourning, Judge McAfee said he would meet privately with Mr. Bradley and his lawyer to discuss issues of attorney-client privilege and the sexual assault charge against Mr. Bradley while working with Mr. Wade. Mr. Bradley vehemently denied the allegation, and the judge did not allow further testimony from other witnesses on the matter.

The judge said he would then set a date for the lawyers to make their closing arguments on the conflict of interest issue. That could happen late next week or the week after, he said, meaning there will be no quick fix to the effort to disqualify the lead prosecutors.

Ms. Willis’ office accused Mr. Trump and 18 of his allies in August 2023 of plotting to undermine the 2020 election results. The four defendants pleaded guilty.

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