Ex-Wade law partner testifies he doesn’t know when relationship with Fulton DA began

Once hailed as a ‘star witness for the defense, Terrence Bradley failed to deliver on stand

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade’s former law partner testified repeatedly Tuesday that he didn’t know when Wade’s romantic relationship with District Attorney Fani Willis began, frustrating defense attorneys in Fulton County’s election interference case who hoped he would help prove the prosecutors lied under oath.

Terrence Bradley said that he was “speculating” when he texted with defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant in early January and said Willis and Wade had begun dating before the DA hired him as special prosecutor. He faced a barrage of questions from seven defense lawyers who took turns trying to poke holes in his story. Ultimately, he did not contradict Willis and Wade’s account of their relationship.

That could prove crucial as defense attorneys seek to disqualify Willis and her entire staff from prosecuting the case against former President Donald Trump and 14 remaining codefendants. The lawyers say the Willis-Wade relationship gave the DA a financial stake in the prosecution. Willis and Wade say they’ve done nothing improper.

Defense attorneys have sought to prove the couple have misled the court about the details of their relationship, including when it began. They hoped Bradley would refute the couple’s account that their romance began months after Willis hired Wade. But he was not the “star witness” they’d hoped as he was billed to be.

On the stand for about two hours, Bradley wiped sweat from his face, at one point asked for a glass of water and sometimes took lengthy pauses before responding to direct questions. Defense lawyers pushing Bradley for details were met frequently with one of two responses — “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall.”

Bradley said he no personal knowledge of trips Wade and Willis took together, did not recall some text messages that appeared to contradict his testimony and couldn’t remember when Wade had confided in him that he and Willis were dating.

Steve Sadow, former President Donald Trump’s attorney, subjected Bradley to a particularly withering line of questioning. Sadow showed Bradley text messages sent to him from Merchant before she filed the motion to disqualify Willis.

In one, she asked if Willis’ and Wade’s romantic relationship began before Wade was appointed special prosecutor in November 2021.

“Absolutely,” Bradley texted.

Unprompted, Bradley then added in the text, “It started when she left the DA’s office and was a judge in South Fulton.”

That would have been before Wade was hired and contrary to what Willis and Wade testified at a hearing on Feb. 15 – that their romantic relationship began in early 2022.

Sadow asked Bradley why he texted that the relationship started when he said it did.

”That’s speculation on my part,” Bradley answered.

“Why would you speculate?” Sadow asked.

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

Sadow then told Bradley that he was now saying he is speculating “because you do in fact know when it started. ... That’s the true explanation because you don’t want to admit it in court.”

Prosecutor Adam Abbate then objected, forcing Sadow to move on.

The defendants say Willis should be disqualified because she hired her boyfriend to oversee the case. They say she benefitted when Wade paid thousands of dollars for trips the couple took to such locations as Aruba, Belize and Napa Valley.

In court documents and recent testimony, Willis and Wade have said they split the cost of their travel roughly evenly. And they say they did not become romantically involved until months after Willis hired Wade for the case in November 2021.

The defendants have not demonstrated conclusively that Willis benefited financially from the case. But they have accused Willis and Wade of misleading the court about the details of their relationship – especially when it began.

At a recent hearing, a former friend and employee of Willis testified that the DA’s romance with Wade began shortly after they met in 2019.

Attorneys for the DA, Wade and Bradley fought to prevent Bradley from testifying. They said any knowledge he had of the relationship was privileged because he had been Wade’s divorce attorney for a time.

But after meeting with Bradley in private Monday, McAfee determined at least some of his knowledge was not protected by attorney-client privilege. That cleared the way for Tuesday’s hearing.

McAfee has scheduled another hearing Friday, when each side will sum up their arguments about whether Willis and her staff will be disqualified.

The judge also is expected to decide whether to admit Wade’s cell phone records as evidence. Defense attorneys say the records strongly suggest Wade spent the night at Willis’ Hapeville condominium in early 2022, though both testified he had never stayed overnight there. Some experts say the records are inconclusive and speculative.