Friday, February 16, 2024

MSNBC Legal Analyst Says Fani Willis' 'Credibility Is Completely Shot'

By Spencer Brown |

AP Photo/John Bazemore

As testimony played out in Georgia during Fani Willis' misconduct hearing regarding the Fulton County District Attorney's affair with her deputy Nathan Wade, it became clear — even to MSNBC legal analyst Caroline Polisi who's also a frequent guest on CNN — that the Georgia RICO case against former President Donald Trump might be close to completely falling apart. 

Following testimony from a former friend who testified that Willis' relationship with Wade began in 2019, not in 2022 as Willis and Wade had previously stated in court filings. If true, that means both lied to the court and it's "game over" for Willis' case against Trump, according to Polisi. 

"Don't let the 'legalese' fool you," the legal analyst said on MSNBC Thursday afternoon. "This is epic, this is monumental. If things are going in the direction we think [and] Fani Willis lied to the court, it's game over for her — she will be disqualified," Polisi emphasized. If, as the former friend testified, Willis and Wade "had a relationship prior to when they represented to the court, it's a huge deal," she said on MSNBC, adding she "can't overstate" the gravity of the revelation.

According to a statement Polisi subsequently provided to Mediaite, Willis' "credibility is completely shot" now. "Willis will be disqualified, which means her entire office is disqualified, which means the case will have to be re-assigned and languish with the PAC [Prosecuting Attorneys' Council] of Georgia, effectively killing the case." 



BY Mia Cathell |

Elijah Nouvelage/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

In a perilous turn of events for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, top Trump prosecutor Nathan Wade was called to the witness stand to answer questions under oath about the prosecutorial pair's admitted affair. During the televised testimony, a squirming Wade was grilled on their extramarital exploits, as the defense hoped to catch him deliberately lying to the court.

Trump co-defendant Michael Roman's defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant called on Wade to testify truthfully in hopes of exposing conflicting sworn statements he made about his romantic relations with Willis, who had hired him under a lucrative contract to helm the prosecution of former President Donald Trump and his allies in the Georgia election interference case.

Keep in mind that Willis and Wade are attempting to convict Trump on criminal charges of making false statements, specifically:

  • Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings (2 counts)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents
  • Filing False Documents
  • False Statements and Writings (2 counts)
  • Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer (2 counts)

Merchant probed for discrepancies between damning documents filed in Wade's divorce dispute, including credit card statements chronicling his wooing of Willis, and the signed affidavit he wrote in support of Willis's 176-page rebuttal to the affair allegations.

In particular, Merchant is venturing to prove that the relationship began far earlier than disclosed (2019 vs. 2022) and that Willis personally benefitted from Wade's appointment through luxury trysts the two took together via Wade's taxpayer-funded wages.

Affair's Timeline

Judge Scott McAfee dealt the devastating blow to Team Willis after they unsuccessfully tried to quash the subpoena summoning Wade to the witness stand. McAfee, who's presiding over the disqualification proceedings, denied the request upon hearing testimony from former Willis staffer Robin Yeartie that disputed what Wade stated on the record regarding the affair's origins.

"I don't see a way around the relevance of his [Wade's] testimony," McAfee said.

Yeartie, an ex-employee of Willis and a longtime friend who once lived with her, said she has "no doubt" that the romantic relationship predates Willis appointing Wade, allegedly sparking back in 2019. Via video conference, Yeartie testified that she witnessed "hugging," "kissing," and "affection" between them before Wade was tapped by Willis to serve as special prosecutor.

Cross-examined by Merchant, Wade stuck to the story that he and Willis began being romantically involved sometime in "early" 2022, "around March," months following his hiring in November 2021. Still, it ended just before Trump's August 2023 indictment.

Who Footed the Bill?

Addressing the No. 1 issue of who paid for the trips, Wade acknowledged he charged the travel bookings to his Capitol One credit card, as documented on invoices dredged up in his divorce case. However, he claimed Willis reimbursed him in cash.

Merchant: You said in the affidavit that you roughly shared travel, though. Correct?
Wade: Yes, ma'am.
Merchant: Okay, so this roughly sharing travel—You're saying she reimbursed you?
Wade: She did.
Merchant: And where did you deposit the money she reimbursed you?
Wade: Oh, it was cash. She didn't give me any checks.
Merchant: So she paid you cash for her share of all these vacations?
Wade: Yes, ma'am.
Merchant: And so, all of the vacations that she took, she paid you cash for?
Wade: Yes, ma'am.
Merchant: And you purchased all of these vacations on your business credit card. Correct?
Wade: Yes, ma'am.
Merchant: And you included those in deductions on your taxes. Correct?
Wade: No, ma'am.
Merchant: No you did not.

So, since the reimbursements were made in cash, there aren't any receipts available to show as physical proof, Wade insisted, making the repayments impossible to corroborate and disprove if there's no paper trail. Later, Willis asserted that her testimony "is enough" to corroborate the claims and should be taken as the truth without supplementary evidence.

"The proof is what I just told you," an agitated Willis said, countering: "Are you telling me I'm lying?"

When asked if she had ever written Wade a check, Willis said: "Ma'am, I don't have checks."

Legal analysts weighing in noted that if one were to reimburse another and wanted to avoid any appearance of financial impropriety, you'd do it in a matter that creates a record, be it a check or a bank transfer, that would leave behind documentation.

Another cross-examiner asked Wade: "You don't have a single solitary deposit slip to corroborate or support any of your allegations that you were paid by Ms. Willis in cash, sir? Not a single, solitary one?"

"Not a single one," Wade affirmed. 

Wade said Willis "carries her own weight," painting it as a character trait which had even amounted to "a point of contention."

Insistent that he and Willis went halfsies on travel costs, Wade called the Democrat DA an "independent, proud woman" who is "going to pay her own way" regardless. Willis said when they were dating, Wade "told me one time the only thing a woman can do for him is make him a sandwich. We would have brutal arguments about the fact that I am your equal." She added, "There was tension always in our relationship, which is why I would give him his money back. I don't need anybody to foot my bills."

Referring to a rendezvous in California's wine country, "Everything we did when we got into Napa, she paid for," Wade insisted.

Wade said Willis repaid him in other ways, like paying for excursions, "so the expenses sort of balanced out." Like any other relationship, Wade said, "You don't—particularly men—you don't go asking back. You're not keeping a ledger."

When Merchant moved to raise questions casting doubt on Wade's qualifications, given he has little prosecutorial experience, Judge McAfee shut the line of questioning down. At Monday's conference laying the ground rules for Thursday's evidentiary hearing, McAfee declaratively ruled out the defense delving into Wade's competency. "In my mind, as long as a lawyer has a heartbeat and a bar card," McAfee declared, then the appointment is "within the district attorney's discretion" alone. Willis has argued that her lover "made much more money than the other special prosecutors only because Wade did much more work."

The proceedings will resume Friday at 9 a.m. with Willis back on the witness stand for Day Two.

McAfee will ultimately decide if the evidence presented is grounds to disqualify Willis. If Willis is removed, the Trump case will be temporarily thrown into a state of limbo since the procedural process to select a replacement prosecutor will be arduous.