Trump defense lawyer walks through Nathan Wade's midnight tryst with Fani Willis, using cellphone data

 March 7, 2024

One of the defense lawyers seeking to disqualify Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis walked lawmakers through a late-night meeting between Willis and her lover, using his cellphone records. 

Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer for Trump co-defendant Michael Roman, testified about Willis' affair with Nathan Wade before an investigative panel of the Georgia Senate on Wednesday.

Willis and Wade have both admitted they had an affair, but they insist it began only after Wade was hired to work on Willis' prosecution of Donald Trump.

Wade was paid over $600,000 for his work on the Trump case despite his lack of prosecution experience. Merchant told the Senate hearing Wednesday that he was paid twice what other attorneys in the office received.

Cellphone captures late meeting

The Senate panel 's investigation is separate from the proceedings in Fulton County Superior Court, which actually has the authority to disqualify Willis for a conflict of interest.

An expert hired by the defense analyzed the geolocation data on Wade's phone and determined that he visited Willis' condo some 35 times, sometimes late in the evening.

Willis' office has pushed back on the defense's claims, insisting the cellphone data proves nothing specific.

At Wednesday's hearing, Merchant gave a detailed walk through of an apparent midnight tryst.

"It's pinging from his house all the way down to the condo at midnight 1 a.m. And then he calls her when he gets there," Merchant said.

"And then it goes silent for four or five hours. And then, you know, early in the morning hours, he starts pinging again, driving back, and then he texts her when he gets home."

Decision expected soon

Merchant told the Senate that she was first informed of the affair by Terrence Bradley, Wade's former divorce lawyer.

She said Bradley was upset with how Wade treated his wife. “He was upset because they were still married and (Wade) essentially just left her after meeting Ms. Willis and dropping the kids off at college,” Merchant said.

Merchant said that Bradley urged her to reach out to Willis' former "bestie," Robin Yeartie, who owned the condo Willis was renting.

Yeartie told the Fulton County Superior Court that Willis and Wade began dating shortly after meeting at a professional conference in 2019, a claim that Bradley corroborated to Merchant before dismissing his texts as "speculation" on the witness stand.

Another witness, a prosecutor in neighboring Cobb County, has since come forward alleging that Bradley's testimony misled the court.

The judge is expected to share his decision on Willis' disqualification any day now.

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