Top 6 Takeaways from Ashleigh Merchant’s Senate Testimony

The Senate Special Committee on Investigations heard sworn testimony from Ashleigh Merchant today. Merchant is the attorney for Michael Roman, one of Donald Trump’s codefendants in Fani Willis’s RICO case against the former President. For as long as I have been participating and observing the legislative process I cannot recall a single time a state legislative committee put a witness under oath. For that reason alone today’s hearing was remarkable. But so were the many takeaways from the hearing. Here are the things that stood out to me.

6. Willis and Wade took great care to hide their relationship, and may have tampered with witnesses. Merchant told the committee that Willis had hidden her relationship with Wade even from her father, “who she speaks with ten times per day.” She went on to say a man named Gabe Banks, who is married to an employee of the Fulton County DA’s office and also may have a special assistant district attorney contract with that office, called Terrence Bradley to probe whether he had leaked the existence of the relationship to Merchant. Wade then called Bradley’s best friend and asked that he remind Bradley of his attorney client privilege. Merchant says Bradley expressed feeling intimidated by the calls because it had not been disclosed to anyone that he was Merchant’ source.

The Fulton County D.A.’s Office filed motions to quash all of Merchant’s subpoenas stating that Merchant was making up the existence of the relationship, which forced Merchant to name Bradley as her source in subsequent filings.

5. Fani Willis Met with Kamala Harris and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens at the White House Before Indicting Trump. From the beginning a great many people have suspected Willis of acting from a political basis and not actually seeking justice. Merchant showed members of the committee White House logs that recorded the meeting on February 28th, 2023. This will further fuel the claims that Willis has acted politically and opens up new questions about the White House’s involvement in the case and what was discussed during that meeting.

Also, when Fani Willis was on the stand during her hearing, she denied ever visiting the White House while under oath. A troubling development that isn’t backed by the log Merchant provided the Senate today.

4. Fani Willis used Civil Asset Forfeiture Funds to pay Nathan Wade. Y’all know how I feel about Civil Asset Forfeiture, but there is something rich about a prosecutor who claims to carry around large amounts of cash, which by itself is enough to have the cash seized by police in our state, using those funds to pay her boyfriend’s hourly rate.

3. Nathan Wade accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments and hid the money from his ex-wife. Merchant claimed that Wade had begun depositing his earnings from the RICO case into a solo IOLTA account, separate from his partners. As evidence she pointed to canceled checks from Fulton County which were deposited into that account. IOLTA stands for “Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts,” and are used to hold money that belongs to clients and cannot be used for their operating expenses. Merchant pointed out that Wade parked a huge amount of money into that IOLTA account and then in his divorce proceedings claimed to only be making a couple thousand dollars per month when records show he was earning $35,000 per month.

2. Merchant used the same investigator to analyze Willis and Wade’s cellphone data who Willis is using in the YSL trial. The big bombshell from Merchant’s hearing to remove Fani Willis from the case was the existence of cellphone and geolocation data that puts Wade at Willis’s home overnight when both had testified under oath that Wade has not spent the night there. The Fulton County D.A.’s office has since filed with the court claiming that geolocation and cellphone data is inconsistent and cannot be trusted.

Unless you have been under a rock, you know about the Young Thug YSL (Young Slime Life) RICO trial that is going on as we breathe, also in Fulton County. Merchant used the same investigator to analyze Wade’s cellphone data that the Fulton County D.A. is using in that case.

Awkward. So which is it, Fani? Is it good to prosecute and prove location for Young Thug but not for you? I imagine every defense attorney in Fulton County will be using that filing against the D.A. in every case moving forward.

Number One: Ashleigh Merchant is not just a crackerjack lawyer, she is a pretty dogged investigator too. I tell ya what, if I am ever accused of a crime, I am going to be calling Ashleigh Merchant. During the course of her testimony today, she went into great detail into all of the little steps she took to investigate and document every aspect of her accusations against Wade and Willis. She filed open records requests for Wade’s badge access to the D.A.’s office to track his movements. She looked into his financial records. She contacted every D.A. in the state to ask them about their use of special assistant district attorneys. She subpoenaed phone records. She tracked, detailed, and documented every one of her claims.

I don’t think Michael Roman will be able to claim that he didn’t have adequate counsel when this is all over. Then again, I am not thinking he will have to.

2 Replies to “Top 6 Takeaways from Ashleigh Merchant’s Senate Testimony”

  1. Fani Willis was at a garden party with several hundred other people, not a private meeting.

    I hid shit from my ex during the divorce, so would you, don’t bullshit yourself.

    Someone claiming that another person claimed to “feel intimidated” is a nothingburger.

    Re: your argument against the use of civil asset forfeiture money, see “nothingburger” above. It’s still legal even if you don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, civil asset forfeiture is bullshit, but so is the government telling women what they can/can’t do with their bodies and you seem okay with that.

    Ultimately, we have record of Donald Trump trying to convince a Sec of State to fake election results. The rest of this is just noise.

    1. “I hid shit from my ex during the divorce, so would you, don’t bullshit yourself.” You are not a member of the Georgia Bar Association tasked with higher ethical standards as a prerequisite to do your job.

      And I am not claiming what you say I am in most of these cases. I simply reported what I saw in the hearing from a witness who was sworn under oath.

      Regarding civil asset forfeiture funds… Fani Willis has claimed that she keeps thousands of dollars in cash on hand as a way to explain why there is no documented evidence of her paying Nathan Wade back. As a state employee she gets paid via direct deposit and yet cannot point to any bank transaction or a series of transactions that would explain how she had that much cash on hand. This is the type of scenario the people she took that cash from through civil asset forfeiture would be expected to produce, otherwise the government is taking that money without an accusation of wrongdoing. And she used money taken that way to pay her boyfriend.

      Simply put, you are right to say, yeah it’s legal, but you gotta see the irony in all of it.

      The judge would be wise to let a different prosecutor take a stab at the case. Fani has messed up too many times and has to go.

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