The father of embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took the stand Friday, testifying that he backs up her story about storing cash at home, listens avidly to conservative talk radio, and knew about COVID-19 well before most other Americans. 

Willis is defending herself from accusations that her affair with the man she hired as special prosecutor disqualifies her from pursuing a racketeering case against former President Donald Trump for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. 

A former Georgia governor, meanwhile, said he turned down the chance to be a special prosecutor in the Trump case

The second day of a court hearing in Atlanta to determine whether Willis and Wade should be disqualified lacked the drama of the first, when Willis took the stand Thursday in a surprise appearance and gave combative testimony

However, more facts emerged to provide context in the Fulton County scandal involving Willis and now ex-boyfriend Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired.

“Your Honor, I’m not trying to be racist, OK? But it’s a black thing,” John Floyd, Willis’ father and also a lawyer, explained to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, the presiding judge. “I was trained, and most black folks hide cash and they keep cash.”

He later added: “I have told my daughter, you keep six months’ worth of cash, always.”

Floyd related a story about a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that refused to take his credit card or traveler’s checks. 

The Willis-Wade controversy emerged in a legal motion from one of Trump’s co-defendants, former White House aide and later campaign aide Michael Roman. 

Trump and Roman were among 19 persons originally indicted for conspiracy in August by a Fulton County grand jury because they challenged the presidential election results in Georgia. 

Willis hired Wade in November 2021 at $250 an hour and their prosecution team brought the criminal case to the grand jury. Wade has billed Willis’ office for over $650,000 in legal work.

Roman’s lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant, filed the motion to disqualify Willis from the Trump case, citing a conflict of interest in her relationship with Wade. 

Wade and Willis went on several vacations on cruises and flights to destinations that included Belize, Aruba, and the Bahamas.

Merchant alleged in her motion that Willis personally benefited from hiring a man with whom she had a romantic relationship. 

Wade and Willis both testified under oath Thursday that although Wade paid for the vacations with his business credit card, Willis reimbursed Wade in cash. 

Willis and Wade testified that their romantic relationship didn’t begin until early 2022, several months after Willis hired Wade as a special prosecutor for the Trump investigation. However, a former friend of Willis’ testified that she saw signs that the two were in a relationship as early as 2019.  

When the relationship began could be key to determining whether Willis anticipated any personal gain.

Asked on the stand whether he is aware of news reports about the pair’s testimony Thursday, Floyd answered: “You can’t cut the TV on without seeing this first thing. I listen to conservative radio a lot, and last night for five hours all they talked about was this case.”

Willis and her father lived for a time in the same house in the Atlanta area. But after Willis was sworn in as the Fulton County district attorney on Jan. 1, 2021, his daughter moved out because of threats and harassment, Floyd testified. 

He testified that protesters gathered outside his daughter’s house and shouted the “N-word” and the “b-word” at her. Someone spray-painted obscenities on her house, he added.

In what turned out to be an unusual exchange, Merchant tried to determine Floyd’s whereabouts in 2019, and whether he might have been aware of his daughter’s relationship with Wade.

“Did you spend any time in 2019 in California?” Merchant asked Floyd.

“I did not. What happened was COVID. Once COVID hit, I was just paralyzed. I couldn’t go anyplace,” Floyd said.  

“I may be wrong, but I believe COVID was in 2020. I’m talking about 2020. I was asking about 2019,” Merchant said. 

Floyd testified that he spent time in South Africa and Washington, D.C., but arrived in Atlanta in spring 2019.

The first known case of COVID-19 in China was reported in late November 2019. The first known case in the United States didn’t occur until early 2020. 

“Before COVID was even here in the United States—remember I lived in South Africa and I traveled the world. I knew COVID was coming before,” Floyd said. “I knew COVID was around before. They may have announced it in ’20. But in fact, I knew about it and I knew what was happening in ’19.”

Willis’ office called former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat who now is a lawyer in private practice, as a witness. Barnes testified that Willis asked him in 2021 to accept the job of special prosecutor in the Trump case. 

“I don’t recall the exact date, but I know it was sometime in 2021. And she asked me to come down, and I met with her and Nathan Wade, and there were several others in the meeting,” the former governor testified. “She asked me if I would be interested in being special prosecutor, to which I replied that I had mouths to feed at a law office and I could not, I would not, do that.”

Barnes added that, in an unrelated matter, the FBI had warned him of threats from people angry that he was “too close to the Jews.” 

“I told DA Willis, I lived with bodyguards for four years and I didn’t like it, and I wasn’t going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life,” Barnes said. 

A lawyer who represented Wade in his divorce, Terrence Bradley, also testified Friday after claiming attorney-client privilege Thursday. Bradley repeatedly said he could not remember details and asked lawyers to repeat questions. 

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