The co-defendant who first accused Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis of being romantically involved with the outside lawyer she appointed to lead the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies on Friday challenged her account of when the relationship began.

In a late Friday motion, an attorney for Mike Roman, a longtime Republican operative who worked on Trump’s 2020 campaign, said special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s former law partner will testify that Willis and Wade’s romantic relationship began before he was named to the case.

Terrence Bradley – Wade’s former business associate, friend and onetime attorney – will “refute” claims Willis and Wade made in a court filing last week in which they admitted to a personal relationship but claimed it began after Wade was appointed to lead the Trump investigation.

Georgia Election Indictment

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, followed by special prosecutor Nathan Wade, right, arrives for a news conference at the Fulton County Government Center in August 2023, in Atlanta. Willis acknowledged in a court filing on Feb. 2, having a “personal relationship” with Wade, a special prosecutor she hired for the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump, but argued there are no grounds to dismiss the case or to remove her from the prosecution. John Bazemore/Associated Press

“Bradley has non-privileged, personal knowledge that the romantic relationship between Wade and Willis began prior to Willis being sworn as the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia in January 2021,” Ashleigh Merchant, Roman’s attorney, wrote. “Thus, Bradley can confirm that Willis contracted with Wade after Wade and Willis began a romantic relationship, thus rebutting Wade’s claim in his affidavit that they did not start dating until 2022.”

The filing pressed Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, to move forward with a previously scheduled Feb. 15 evidentiary hearing on Roman’s motion to disqualify Willis, Wade and the district attorney’s office.

Roman’s disclosure that Bradley would offer public testimony contradicting the timing of Willis and Wade’s relationship came two days after the district attorney’s office filed a motion seeking to block Roman’s subpoenas for Bradley and several others – including Willis and Wade – to testify under oath at the Feb. 15 hearing.


“Any relevant information Mr. Bradley may have – and the State disputes he has any information relevant to any pending matter before the Court – is protected by attorney-client privilege and non-discoverable,” the motion filed by the district attorney’s office said.

A spokesman for Willis declined to comment. Bradley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers are ethically bound not to submit false statements in court, but the sanctions are typically handled by a state bar, not judges. Supporters of the prosecution say they would be stunned that Willis would jeopardize the case with such behavior.

“I will not make any assumptions about the veracity of any of the charges or claims – I just don’t think we have any basis,” said Morgan Cloud, a law professor at Emory University. “But if this is proven, I don’t understand how this could have happened. She’s a smart person and a good lawyer, and to have engaged in the kind of misconduct alleged here, it’s just inexplicable to me.”

Roman’s filing also included new details about Willis’ and Wade’s travel together, alleging that Wade paid for at least five trips for the two of them – two cruises to the Bahamas, a trip to Belize, and previously reported trips to Napa Valley and Aruba. In her response last week, Willis claimed that she and Wade shared travel expenses, but her filing included receipts only for one airplane trip from Atlanta to Miami.

Roman’s filing comes a week after Willis acknowledged a personal relationship with Wade but denied it had tainted the proceedings. She also strongly denied any claims of misconduct, calling the accusations “meritless” and “salacious,” and argued personal relationships between lawyers “do not constitute impermissible conflicts of interest.”


Willis’ filing included a sworn affidavit from Wade, who said there was “no personal relationship” between him and Willis “prior to or at the time” he was appointed to the case in November 2021. Wade’s affidavit said that in 2022, he and Willis “developed a personal relationship in addition to our professional association and friendship.” The filing did not say whether that personal relationship is still ongoing.

Merchant has subpoenaed Willis, Wade and nearly a dozen of their associates to testify under oath at the Feb. 15 hearing – among them, she claims, are people who will dispute Wade’s claim that his relationship with Willis began after he was appointed to the case.

On Wednesday, Willis moved to quash several of Roman’s subpoenas – including those issued to herself, Wade, several staff members of the district attorney’s office, and Terrance Bradley, Wade’s former law partner who also previously represented Wade in his ongoing divorce case.

Willis called the summons a “belated … effort to support reckless allegations.” She wrote that they amounted to “harassment and disruption” and an attempt to “disrupt and delay” the racketeering case against Trump and his allies, who are accused of conspiring to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, Wade filed his own motion to quash – seeking to block Roman’s subpoena to Synovus Bank seeking financial records tied to Wade’s law firm and personal finances. Wade accused Roman of abusing the legal system “to fish for irrelevant information unconnected to the criminal charges against Roman.”

The motion, filed by Wade’s attorney Andrew C. Evans, complained Wade only learned about Roman’s subpoena to Synovus when the bank notified him it had declined to turn over the records. “Had Synovus not timely notified Wade, Roman would be dreaming of ways to turn Wade’s purchase of toner into proof that Wade is an architect of the deep state,” Wade’s motion said.


The moves by Willis and Wade to block the subpoenas could require its own evidentiary hearing.

The developments come a month after Roman claimed in a court filing that Willis and Wade had been involved in an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” that has financially benefited them both.

Roman claimed Willis may have broken the law by hiring Wade, an outside attorney with scant experience prosecuting criminal cases, and then allowing him to pay for “vacations across the world” with her that was unrelated to their work on the case. Wade’s firm has been paid more than $653,000 since he was appointed in November 2021. Roman’s filing, which offered no proof to substantiate the sensational claims, called for the prosecutors to be disqualified and for the charges against him to be dismissed.

The allegations against Wade and Willis have played out against the backdrop of a bitter divorce battle between Wade and his estranged wife that has provided some of the fodder for the salacious drama that now threatens to derail the criminal case against the former president.

Bank records made public as part of Wade’s divorce proceedings show Wade purchased plane tickets for himself and Willis on two occasions – a trip to Aruba purchased in October 2022 on American Airlines, and a second trip purchased in April 2023 to San Francisco on Delta Air Lines.

Wade said in his affidavit that he and Willis had split travel expenses “equally.” An attached exhibit included receipts for airline tickets for a trip to Miami in December 2022 that Willis bought for herself and Wade. He insisted that Willis had not benefited from his salary as a special prosecutor.


“No funds paid to me in compensation for my role as Special Prosecutor have been shared with or provided to District Attorney Willis,” Wade said in the affidavit. “The District Attorney received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as Special Prosecutor.”

Roman’s motion to disqualify Willis and her office was later joined by Trump and several other co-defendants, including Atlanta-area attorney Bob Cheeley, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, former Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer and Cathleen Latham, a 2020 Trump elector. All have filed motions pressing McAfee to hold an evidentiary hearing or simply grant motions removing Willis and her office from the case.

Willis indirectly addressed some of the allegations leveled by Roman and other critics in a fiery Jan. 14 speech before a historic Black church in Atlanta, accusing critics of playing the “race card” by questioning her right to appoint Wade, whom she did not name but described as a legal “superstar.” Willis and Wade are both Black. Those remarks later prompted additional misconduct claims, including from Trump who accused Willis of making racially charged accusations against the defendants that could prejudice a future jury.

Willis wrote in the Friday filing that her church remarks “neither reference this case nor these defendants,” so to cite that as a basis for disqualification “is transparently meritless.”

“Much like the motion advanced by Defendant Roman, Defendant Trump’s motion appears designed to generate media attention rather than accomplish some form of legitimate legal practice,” Willis wrote.

On Wednesday, Steve Sadow, Trump’s attorney, slammed Willis’ claim in a motion renewing a request to have Willis and her office removed from the case and charges against his client dismissed because of what he described as Willis’ “egregious misconduct.”


He called Willis’ claim that she wasn’t referencing the defendants in the church speech as “preposterous and disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst.” “It is an after-the-fact futile attempt to mislead this court,” Sadow wrote, describing Willis’ remarks as “undeniably unethical.”

Lawyers for Shafer also targeted Willis’ remarks at the church as well as other public statements she has made about the case, including to The Washington Post.

“All the causes for the disqualification are self-inflicted blows,” Shafer’s motion, which was also adopted by Latham, said. The district attorney has strayed “wildly from the legal guardrails that are designed to protect the accused from improper, extrajudicial comments.”

Another co-defendant, Clark, argued Willis’ legal maneuvering to avoid testimony in Wade’s divorce case is also disqualifying. In her motion to quash her subpoena in that case, an attorney for Willis accused Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade’s estranged wife, of colluding with others to disrupt the racketeering case against Trump and his allies. Willis’ motion pointed out the close timing between her subpoena in the divorce case and the filing from Roman that accused her and Wade of misconduct.

“Joycelyn Wade is using the legal process to harass and embarrass District Attorney Willis, and in doing so, is obstructing and interfering with an ongoing criminal prosecutions,” Cinque Axam an attorney for Willis, wrote. An attorney for Joycelyn Wade strongly denied Willis’ claims.

In his motion, Clark argued that Willis’ statements about Joycelyn Wade violated her duties as a prosecutor. She “exploited the power of her office to threaten Mrs. Wade with criminal investigation and prosecution, again to solve her own scandalous predicament,” Clark’s filing read.


McAfee is expected to rule by early next week on whether Roman’s attorney can question Willis, Wade and others under oath and whether the Feb. 15 hearing will move forward. McAfee could also potentially dismiss the disqualification motions outright, finding that Willis and Wade did nothing legally wrong.

But even allies of Willis fear the case has been publicly damaged. And the embattled district attorney is facing trouble on multiple fronts as critics of her and the case against Trump have seized on the scandal, which is unlikely to go away anytime soon even if McAfee keeps Willis and her team on the case.

A Georgia Senate committee with subpoena power is investigating Roman’s claims, and a member of the Fulton County governing board has suggested he might also launch an investigation. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has referred the matter to the state ethics commission for potential sanctions and has also requested that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp or Attorney General Chris Carr, both Republicans, launch a criminal investigation.

Willis is currently running unopposed for a second term as district attorney. Some Fulton County voters reported receiving a text poll earlier this week probing their views on Willis, the allegations against her and their feelings about the case against Trump.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: