Fulton County prosecutor's divorce attorney testifies in Fani Willis case

By Dan Berman and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Updated 6:06 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024
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6:01 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Takeaways from the Bradley testimony

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, Devan Cole, Zachary Cohen and Dan Berman

A Georgia lawyer who had been billed as a star witness in the effort to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not deliver damaging testimony Tuesday on her romantic relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade.

Instead, the lawyer, Terrence Bradley, said he did not recall when asked a number of key questions during the two-hour hearing in Atlanta.

Most notably, he said he did not know when the relationship began – and whether it began after Willis hired Wade to spearhead the prosecution of Donald Trump and his allies. Bradley said he was speculating about the timeline.

Here are some key takeaways from the hearing:

  • Bradley – repeatedly – said he didn’t know when the relationship between Wade and Willis began. “I do not have knowledge of it starting, or when it started,” Bradley said at one point.
  • Bradley said he was speculating when he told a defense lawyer about the relationship. “I was speculating, I didn’t have a – no one told me. I was speculating,” Bradley said.
  • Things got testy when various defense lawyers had their chance to pressure Bradley. “Mr. Bradley, ‘speculation’ is kind of a weaselly lawyer word,” defense attorney Richard Rice said at one point. “Let’s speak truth here and you’re under oath.”

Read more about today's hearing.

4:37 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Analysis: Terrence Bradley didn't deliver for Trump and the defense teams

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Terrence Bradley walks to the witness stand at the Fulton County Courthouse on February 27.
Terrence Bradley walks to the witness stand at the Fulton County Courthouse on February 27. Brynn Anderson/Pool/Getty Images

This hearing is about evidence Terrence Bradley might have had, and for the defense teams that called him to the stand, he didn't deliver.

"He'd made some comments to you along the way that led you to believe he had more knowledge than today he's testifying that he had," Judge Scott McAfee said bluntly to defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant on Tuesday afternoon.

Merchant and other defense lawyers in the Georgia election subversion case have been trying to stand up, with days of evidence and witness testimony, allegations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and the lead prosecutor she hired for the Trump case, Nathan Wade, began an ethically dubious relationship earlier than they've said. Both have testified the relationship started after Wade joined Willis' office in late 2021.

Bradley, a hesitant witness, was finally forced on Tuesday to speak about the years of 2015 to 2022, when he was Wade's law partner and divorce lawyer.

Bradley had chatted with Merchant over text in recent months about the Wade-Willis relationship starting earlier than that, according to Tuesday's proceeding.

Merchant recounted in court she had texted Bradley, "'Do you think it started before she hired him?' And you said, 'Absolutely."

"Do you recall me asking how they would react? Would they attack me? And you told me that they would deny it," Merchant added.

To that, though, Bradley testified repeatedly he was just speculating.

The defense lawyers, one after another in court, grew frustrated — and confirmed with Bradley he had no direct conversations with Wade or proof of the prosecutors' relationship beginning more than two years ago.

"I never witnessed anything," Bradley said under oath. "I do not have knowledge of it starting, or when it started."

He said he remembers only one conversation, at a time he can't recall, that Wade told him Wade and Willis were dating.

4:24 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Terrence Bradley is off the stand

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Terrence Bradley's testimony has concluded and the hearing has ended.

Bradley testified Tuesday that he did not know when his former client Nathan Wade’s relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began and that he was merely speculating when he told a defense attorney it started before Willis hired Wade to lead the investigation into Donald Trump and others.

4:09 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Defense attorney to Terrence Bradley: "Speculation is kind of a weaselly lawyer word"

From CNN's Devan Cole

One of the Fulton County defense attorneys called out Terrence Bradley’s use of the word "speculation" when he tried to explain during his testimony Tuesday why he told another attorney when Nathan Wade’s relationship began with District Attorney Fani Willis.

“Mr. Bradley, ‘speculation’ is kind of a weaselly lawyer word. Let's speak truth here and you’re under oath,” defense attorney Richard Rice said at one point after Bradley again used the word.

Earlier Tuesday, Bradley, Wade’s onetime divorce attorney, said he was “speculating” when he told defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant when Wade began dating Willis.

“When you told me that their relationship started when she left the DA's office and was a judge in South Fulton, where did you obtain that information from?” Merchant, who represents Mike Roman, asked Bradley.

“I was speculating, I didn’t have a – no one told me. I was speculating,” Bradley replied.

3:59 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Defense attorney to Bradley: "Do you tell lies about your friends?"

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Defense attorneys are piling on to Terrence Bradley, questioning him as to why he would speculate or make up lies about his friend and former law partner Nathan Wade.

In one testy exchange, Richard Rice, an attorney for defendant Robert Cheeley, asked Bradley whether “as a normal course of your relationship with your friends, do you pass on lies about your friends?”

“Have I passed on lies about my friends, is that what you’re asking?” Bradley responded.

“Is that something you normally do, Mr. Bradley?” Rice said. "Do you tell lies about your friends?”

Bradley responded: “Have I told lies about my friends? I could have. I don’t know.”

“Do you pass on lies about your friends in a case of national importance?” Rice pushed.

Bradley repeated, “I could have. I don’t know.”

3:57 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Judge McAfee appears to be tracking when witness says he doesn't recall

From CNN's Nick Valencia in the courtroom

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, on Tuesday, February 27.
Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, on Tuesday, February 27. Brynn Anderson/Pool/AP

Judge Scott McAfee appears to be taking many notes during the course of Tuesday’s hearing.

McAfee was observed on more than one occasion writing down when Terrence Bradley, former attorney for Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade, said he either did not remember or could not recall details of Wade's relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

3:46 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Trump’s attorney raises the possibility that Wade and Willis might have lied under oath

From CNN's Devan Cole

Donald Trump attorney Steve Sadow suggested Tuesday that if attorney Terrence Bradley testifies that he knew from Nathan Wade that the Fulton County prosecutor’s relationship began with District Attorney Fani Willis before the pair said it did, it would show that they lied under oath.

“Mr. Bradley, you realize that if you were to testify under oath that you knew from Mr. Wade that the relationship between him and Ms. Willis existed before the contract in November 1 of 2021, that if you testified that you knew that from Mr. Wade, that would show that both Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade had lied under oath. You know, that don't you,” Sadow said.

Before Bradley could respond, Judge Scott McAfee interjected to say that such a finding would “call for an opinion on the credibility of another testifying witness.”

“So I don't think that would be appropriate question,” the judge added.
3:37 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Bradley: "I have no answer" for why he "speculated" about Wade-Willis relationship timing

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Terrence Bradley, special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s former law partner and onetime divorce attorney, testifies in court Tuesday, February 27.
Terrence Bradley, special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s former law partner and onetime divorce attorney, testifies in court Tuesday, February 27. Brynn Anderson/Pool/AP

Donald Trump's defense attorney, Steve Sadow, pushed Terrence Bradley over why he would “speculate” that Nathan Wade and Fani Willis were in a relationship as far back as 2019. Sadow cited Bradley’s earlier testimony in which he said he was “speculating” in text messages with defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who first brought the allegations of Wade and Willis’ relationship into court, when he said that Wade and Willis started dating at a judges’ conference in 2019.

“Maybe you can tell the court in your own words, why in the heck would you speculate in this text message and say that it started when she left the DA’s office and was a judge in South Fulton,” Sadow asked.

“I don’t recall why I felt that it started at that time, but I do recall that he only met her – and I testified to that – that he met her at that [judges'] conference in 2019,” Bradley said, adding that he did not hear anything about the relationship from Wade that would lead him to that belief.

“Why would you speculate when she was asking you a direct question about when the relationship started?” Sadow pushed.

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

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

3:23 p.m. ET, February 27, 2024

Bradley says he can't recall other conversations with Wade about Willis relationship

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Terrence Bradley testified Tuesday that he remembers having only one conversation about the romantic relationship between Nathan Wade and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over the more than four years he acted as Wade’s divorce attorney.

Under questioning from Donald Trump’s attorney, Steve Sadow, Bradley said he represented Wade, the special prosecutor Willis hired to lead the Georgia election subversion case, between 2018 and mid-2022.

During that time, Bradley said, he had one conversation with Wade in their shared law office about the relationship.

“You’re testifying under oath that you had one conversation about a relationship between Mr. Wade and Miss Willis?” Sadow asked. “Is that correct?”

“I don’t recall having any other conversation with Mr. Wade about him and Ms. Willis,” Bradley responded.

“Is it your testimony then, that you don’t remember any other conversation or there wasn’t any other conversation besides the one?” Sadow asked.

Bradley said he believed that “it was the one” but that he did not determinately remember whether there were others.