Trump’s Georgia lawyers release phone records in effort to remove prosecutors

Lawyers representing former President Donald J. Trump continue to make their case that the lead prosecutors in the Georgia election meddling case are lying about when their romantic relationship began, unearthing phone records Friday that they are likely to use to try to undermine the prosecution testimony.

In a court filing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers in Atlanta presented an affidavit describing phone records obtained through a subpoena that they said showed more than 2,000 calls between Fannie T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and Nathan Wade, a lawyer who hired to help oversee the case, in the first 11 months of 2021. Records also showed the two exchanged approximately 12,000 text messages during that period.

There is no dispute that Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis were in contact in 2021. They are longtime friends, and after Ms. Willis was elected District Attorney in 2020, she appointed Mr. Wade to the hiring committee to review applicants for district attorney jobs. She has also consulted with Mr Wade on a number of issues, including strategic matters on major cases, after taking office in January 2021.

His advisory role extended to the period covered by the mobile phone data referred to in the new request by Mr. Trump, from January 1, 2021, to November 30, 2021. At a hearing in the case last week, former Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia, an experienced trial lawyer, recalled that Ms. Willis and a team that included Mr. Wade met with him in October 2021 and asked him if he wanted to take the job that Ms. Willis eventually gave to Mr. Wade.

Ms Willis and Mr Wade recently admitted they were romantically involved, but said it began after she hired him to work on the Trump case

The affidavit by Charles Mittelstadt, an investigator hired by Trump’s lawyers, also described cell phone location data that they said showed Mr. Wade’s phone was connected, on at least 35 occasions, “for an extended period of time” to a cell tower near the apartment where Ms. Willis lived.

The investigator said the evidence indicated that on two specific occasions, Mr. Wade was near Ms. Willis’ residence, beginning late at night and ending before dawn. One of those occasions was late on the night of September 11, 2021.

Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment, except to say that the office would respond to Mr. Trump’s filing with its own filing.

Mr. Trump’s team did not release the data used by their investigator, so it was not immediately possible to verify their claims. On Friday, it was not clear what effect Mr.’s submission would have. Trump could have the defense’s ongoing efforts to disqualify Mr. Wade, Ms. Willis and her entire office based on allegations that the romantic relationship created a conflict of interest.

But the records will almost certainly be used by defense lawyers to argue that the two prosecutors began their romantic relationship before Ms. Willis hired Mr. Wade on Nov. 1, 2021 — not in 2022, as the two prosecutors have insisted.

The reliability of such cellphone-tracking technology has come under fire before, including when it was deployed by allies of Mr. Trump to help spread false claims of widespread ballot stuffing during the 2020 election. Such technology may be limited in how accurately it can determine a person’s location.

The number of contacts described in Trump’s new filing would mean the two prosecutors spoke on the phone an average of about six times a day over 11 months and exchanged roughly 36 text messages a day.

The connection first came to light in a filing last month by Michael Romano, one of 15 co-defendants in the election meddling case and a former Trump campaign official. Mr. Roman claims that the two prosecutors engaged in “self-conduct” that represented a conflict of interest, because Mr. Wade used money paid to him by the district attorney’s office to finance trips he and Ms. Willis took together.

Mrs. Willis and Mr. The Wades denied any improper financial benefits and testified that they roughly split the cost of their vacation.

But the question of exactly when the relationship began has also become a point of contention, with Mr. Romano’s lawyer arguing that it began before November 2021 — which would essentially mean that Ms. Willis hired her boyfriend for the lucrative and high-profile job of handling the Trump case. .

Lawyers are expected to continue arguing the disqualification issue at a hearing scheduled for next Friday.

Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University who has closely followed the Trump case in Georgia, said he doubted the cellphone data would greatly influence the judge’s disqualification decision. Since Ms. Willis admitted that Mr. Wade was a mentor and close adviser, Professor Kreis said, “it’s not inconsistent that they spend time together and exchange text messages, especially in the run-up to the Donald Trump investigation.”

Still, Mr. Kreis said the records “could be problematic” if the judge believed they damaged the credibility of Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis.

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