Georgia Election Indictment

Terrence Bradley, Special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s former law partner and one-time divorce attorney, testifies in court on Tuesday, in Atlanta. Bradley testified as a judge considered an effort by lawyers for former President Donald Trump to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over her romantic relationship with a top prosecutor who had been Bradley’s law partner. Brynn Anderson/Pool photo via AP

ATLANTA – A lawyer billed as the “star witness” in the case to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis testified Tuesday that it was mere “speculation” when he told a defense attorney that Willis began a romantic relationship in 2019 with the outside lawyer she appointed to lead the case against Donald Trump, years earlier than Willis has publicly acknowledged.

Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of special prosecutor Nathan Wade, repeatedly testified under oath that he did not know when the relationship between Willis and Wade started and could not remember the date of when he learned about it from Wade, frustrating defense attorneys who had claimed his testimony would “refute” claims by Willis and Wade that their romantic relationship began months after Wade was appointed to manage the Trump case.

“I do not have knowledge of it starting or when it started,” Bradley testified Tuesday. “I never witnessed anything. So, you know, it was speculation.”

Bradley’s claims potentially undercut a defense effort to remove Willis and her office from the election interference case by using allegations of an improper personal relationship between Willis and Wade. But Bradley’s testimony also appeared to contradict numerous statements he had made about Willis and Wade in text messages to Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for Trump co-defendant Mike Roman, who first accused the prosecutors of misconduct and relied on Bradley as a key source.

As Merchant and others pointed back to those messages, Bradley repeatedly sought to distance himself from the claims he made to Merchant – either saying he did not remember the text exchanges or that his statements were based on speculation. That led Merchant and other defense attorneys to complain that Bradley was being deliberately evasive or outright dishonest in his testimony.

At one point, Steve Sadow, an attorney for Trump, pointed to a January 2024 text exchange between Bradley and Merchant in which Bradley claimed Willis and Wade had been dating since they met at a judicial conference in late 2019. When Bradley again claimed it was speculation, Sadow accused Bradley of lying on the witness stand.


“Why in the heck would you speculate?” Sadow demanded.

“I have no answer for that,” Bradley replied.

Georgia Election Indictment

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is handed the book “Find Me the Votes”, to read over a quote from herself as she testifies during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case on Feb. 15, in Atlanta. Alyssa Pointer/Pool photo via AP

“Except for the fact that you do, in fact, know when it started, and you don’t want to testify to that in court. That’s the best explanation,” Sadow shot back. “That’s the true explanation. Because you don’t want to admit it in court, correct?”

Bradley’s testimony Tuesday came after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the election interference case, ordered him back on the witness stand to continue testimony that began nearly two weeks ago as part of an evidentiary hearing on the motion to disqualify Willis and her office from the case.

McAfee will ultimately have to decide if the prosecutors’ relationship created a conflict of interest or the appearance of one – and if Willis and her office should be removed from the case, or if any of the charges should be dropped against Trump or his allies, who are accused of criminally conspiring to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. It is one of four criminal cases facing Trump as he once again runs for president.

In his first round of testimony, Bradley repeatedly refused to answer questions about what he knew about Willis and Wade’s romantic relationship, including when it began. Bradley previously served as Wade’s divorce attorney and cited concerns that he might violate attorney-client privilege. McAfee met with Bradley and his attorney behind closed doors for nearly 90 minutes on Monday – over objections from Wade’s attorney – and decided that some of Bradley’s communications with Wade were not subject to privilege, leading to Bradley’s return to the witness stand Tuesday.


Bradley continued to be a reluctant witness. He testified Tuesday that he could only recall “one conversation” in which Wade told him that he and Willis were dating. Bradley said he could not remember the date of the conversation, including whether it was before or after Wade was appointed to the Trump case.

That reluctance to answer questions led Merchant to present text messages and an email showing she had been communicating with Bradley since September, when she began investigating allegations of an improper romantic relationship between Willis and Wade. She read off numerous claims Bradley made to her – including details of an alleged tryst at Willis’s private law office and information about trips that he claimed Willis and Wade had taken.

Bradley repeatedly said he did not recall the exchanges and dodged questions about the information. “I don’t recall that,” he testified.

Merchant also read an excerpt from an email and text exchange in which Bradley had asked her to include details about payments he had made as an outside attorney consulting for the district attorney’s office in her motion to disqualify Willis. Merchant suggested Bradley had asked her to include that detail to help him elude suspicion that he was her source – a claim Bradley denied, saying he was merely helping Merchant be “accurate” about the payments Wade and his law partners had received for this work with the district attorney’s office.

Bradley’s maneuvering Tuesday echoed his posture from his Feb. 16 testimony, when he initially claimed he did not recall conversations with Merchant, testifying that he had communicated with her through “a third party.” But he later acknowledged under oath that he had talked to Merchant via phone and later exchanged text messages with her as she sought to confirm Willis and Wade were a couple.

In one message presented in court, Merchant had asked Bradley if he knew of anyone who would give her “an affidavit … about the affair.”


Examining his own phone, Bradley confirmed that he responded, “No one would freely burn that bridge.”

Bradley also confirmed that he texted with Merchant about trips Willis and Wade took together and how Wade had used his corporate card to pay for them. Bradley confirmed Merchant had sent him a copy of the Jan. 8 motion she filed that first detailed allegations of an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” between Willis and Wade, as Merchant claimed he fact-checked her allegations about the prosecutors.

“Looks good,” Bradley texted Merchant in response to her filing – a message he confirmed under oath.

Pressed on that exchange Tuesday, Bradley said the “looks good” comment was not a statement about the accuracy of Merchant’s claims against Willis and Wade but rather of the details about money he had earned from the district attorney’s office. One by one, defense attorneys sought to discredit Bradley, with Merchant at one point accusing Bradley of looking at Wade, who sat at the prosecution table, and seeking cues on how he should answer – a claim Bradley strongly denied.

Richard Rice, an attorney for co-defendant Bob Cheeley, repeatedly pressed Bradley if he had been dishonest with Merchant.

“Mr. Bradley, you’re a lawyer. Did you lie to Ms. Merchant when you told her facts about Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis’s relationship?” Rice asked.


“Not that I recall,” Bradley replied. “I mentioned earlier that I speculated on some things.”

“Speculation is kind of a weaselly lawyer word,” Rice said. “Let’s speak truth here, and you’re under oath.”

The exchange quickly drew a prosecution objection, which McAfee granted.

At the previous hearing, McAfee abruptly ended Bradley’s questioning after a prosecutor claimed during cross-examination that Bradley and Wade ended their legal partnership after Bradley was accused of sexually assaulting an employee and a client. Prosecutors implied it raised questions about Bradley’s credibility as a witness and whether he had ill will toward Wade.

Bradley strongly denied he had sexually assaulted anyone but admitted that the employee’s claims led him to sever his partnership with Wade.

At a hearing scheduled for Friday, attorneys will make their closing arguments on whether Willis and her office should be disqualified from the case. McAfee has suggested that he does not plan to rule from the bench, and he has not provided a timeline for his decision.


Gardner reported from Washington. Amy B Wang in Washington and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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.