Lawyer Ashleigh Merchant Testifies Before Ga. Committee Investigating Fani Willis

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 27: Attorney Ashleigh Merchant speaks during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on February 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. Witness and attorney Terrence Bradley testified as Judge McAfee considered an effort by lawyers for former President Donald Trump to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over her romantic relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade, who had been Bradley's law partner. (Photo by Brynn Anderson-Pool/Getty Images)
Attorney Ashleigh Merchant speaks during a hearing in the case of the State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on February 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Brynn Anderson-Pool/Getty Images)

OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
2:25 PM – Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Ashleigh Merchant, the lawyer who first made a motion to disqualify Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, testified before the Georgia Senate Special Committee on Investigations.


Merchant testified before members of the committee on Wednesday.

The defense attorney was the first person to receive a subpoena from the panel as they investigate Willis, who is accused of having a romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor she hired for President Trump’s election interference case in Georgia.

Merchant mentioned that Willis’s office’s decision to hire a special prosecutor for Trump’s case was unusual in the first place.

She pointed out that in September of 2021, Willis spoke before the Fulton County Board of Commissioners requesting money to hire 55 additional lawyers amid a “rise in crime and backlog of homicides.”

Chairman Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Ga.) asked Merchant if there was a request to pay for a special prosecutor in the state’s election interference case. She answered, saying that there was not, adding that once the county approves a budget, Willis essentially has the power to do whatever she wants with it.

“I did open records based on this asking who was hired and the dates of hire because I wanted to be able to track that and that was denied,’’ said Merchant.

“And who made that denial, the DA’s office or the county?” Cowsert asked.

“The DA’s office,” Merchant replied. “For those 55 people she went and asked for more money because she didn’t have enough money. So once she was awarded that it’s her position now that she can spend that money however she wants.”

When asked about her thoughts on the situation, Merchant said that it was odd that there was no budgetary authority or oversight on how Willis was spending the public’s money.

“I know that it’s an elected official but it’s still public money,” Merchant said.

The defense attorney also pointed out how the two other special counsel members hired for the RICO case were paid much less than special prosecutor Nathan Wade. She added that he had never even prosecuted a felony case before.

Merchant represents Michael Roman, a Philadelphia GOP operative and one of the 19 defendants in Georgia’s case. He brought forth allegations that Willis was in a romantic relationship with Wade and they utilized money paid by her office to go on lavish vacations.

“A lot of people in the community were a little surprised to see Nathan handling this case… It was surprising cause he does a lot of law practice but this isn’t what you’d imagine him doing,” Merchant said.

“Two of the cruises that they took he used a travel agency. There was a cruise to the Bahamas, a trip to Aruba, and another cruise to the Bahamas. His credit cards were the ones that showed all the Belize trips,” Merchant added.

“And they showed that he was buying the tickets for both himself and Ms. Willis?”, asked Chairman Cowsert.

“Oh yes,” Merchant replied.

Merchant also mentioned Terrance Bradly, who formerly represented Wade in his recent divorce. She said that Bradley told her that Wade and Willis had been dating before he was ever hired for Trump’s case.

“He had (Bradley) told me they met at hotels, he (Wade) would go to her place, and I remember him saying ‘you need to find her bestie’ who they had a falling out, that’s the person whose condo it was that they would meet at.”

The committee plans to hold another hearing in the coming weeks. 

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