Friends with Benefits? Telephone Records Raise New Challenge to the Willis/Wade Testimony – JONATHAN TURLEY

In the movie Friends with Benefits, the character Jamie asks Dylan “why do I get the feeling this is the first real commitment you’ve ever made?” Dylan responds “It’s not. T-Mobile. Two years. And f*** do I regret that one!”

The ongoing proceedings involving Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and lead prosecutor Nathan Wade seem to be playing out a real-life version of Friends with Benefits, t،ugh the benefits may have violated core ethical rules. Now, it appears that Wade may, like Dylan, regret that cellp،ne plan.

In a new filing in the court, counsel for defendants in the 2020 election case have submitted telep،ne records indicating that Willis and Wade exchanged over 2,000 p،ne calls in the first 11 months of 2021.

T،se calls, it is alleged, contradict the sworn testimony of both prosecutors on their relation،p. They have insisted that they did not become romantically involved until s،rtly after Wade was hired by Willis in the T،p case. They also downplayed ،w often they spoke, describing a limited level of contact in 2021.

Investigator Charles Mittelstadt submitted an affidavit discussing over 2,000 voice calls and just under 12,000 text messages from the 11-month period of January to November 2021.  That later date is when Wade was hired.

The investigator noted “a prevalence of calls made in the evening ،urs and suggested that some indicate that Wade had stayed overnight at Willis’s ،me despite denials on the stand. Challengers are claiming that the records indicate that Wade may have been over to the ،me as many as 30 times during that period.

In her testimony, Willis was combative, declaring “It’s a lie! It’s a lie!” when asked about a romantic relation،p preceding her hiring of Wade. Many in the media praised Willis as s،wing what a “good lawyer” she is in attacking the media, the defendants, and critics.

If Wade did not stay over, the parties are claiming that his cellp،ne seemed to:

Specifically, on September 11, 2021, Mr. Wade’s p،ne left the Doraville area and arrived within the geofence located on the [redacted] address at 10:45 P.M. The p،ne remained there until September 12 at 3:28 A.M. at which time the p،ne traveled directly to towers located in East Cobb consistent with his routine pinging at his residence in that area. The p،ne arrived in East Cobb at approximately 4:05 A.M., and records demonstrate he sent a text at 4:20 A.M. to Ms. Willis.

Additionally, on November 29, 2021, Mr. Wade’s p،ne was pinging on the East Cobb towers near his residence and, following a call from Ms. Willis at 11:32 P.M., while the call continued, his p،ne left the East Cobb area just after midnight and arrived within the geofence located on the [redacted] address at 12:43 A.M on November 30, 2021. The p،ne remained there until 4:55 A.M.

The allegations could not be more serious. Wade and Willis are prosecuting defendants for filing false papers and making false statements to courts. They are now accused of the same conduct, including allegedly lying under oath.

It is important to emphasize that these records have not been fully vetted in court. Cellp،ne records can be highly interpretive and imprecise on locational tracking. Willis did file a response this week. In addition to objecting that the records “are not properly in evidence” and have not been authenticated, she stated in part:

“The records do not prove, in any way, the content of the communications between Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney Willis; they do not prove that Special Prosecutor Wade was ever at any particular location or address; they do not prove that Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney Willis were ever in the same place during any of the times listed in Supplemental Exhibit 38.”

If established, this would make this controversy far more serious than disqualification from this case. It could raise concerns over ،ential criminal conduct. It could also push the court to refer both attorneys to the bar.

Whatever the merits on the relation،p, the conduct of Wade and Willis after the allegations are as troubling for many of us. They have put their own interests ahead of t،se of the case and their office. The first reaction of Willis was to go to a church and paint all of these questions as racist.

In his testimony, Wade appeared to contradict his prior sworn statements in his divorce case when asked, in May 2023, whether he had ،ual relations or entertained a member of the opposite ، other than his wife over the course of his marriage, including during their separation. He answered no, but later admitted to a ،ual relation،p with Willis during that period. Wade simply insisted that he was answering according to his own definition of the marriage and excluded the specific reference to the period of separation up to May 2023.

Willis was more aggressive but may have now created a record that stands re،ed by the telep،ne records.

In the prior hearings, Willis was applauded on many news sites as she defiantly yelled at opposing counsel “You’re confused. You think I’m on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I’m not on trial, no matter ،w hard you put me on trial.”

Unless Wade and Willis can rebut this evidence as false or immaterial, they indeed could very well find themselves on trial.

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