Takeaways From Day 2 of the Fani Willis Hearing in the Georgia Trump Case

Defense lawyers for Donald J. Trump and his co-defendants in Georgia found themselves frustrated in efforts to extract damaging information from a key witness on Friday, as they sought to disqualify the lead prosecutors accusing Mr. Trump and his allies of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.

The defense is arguing that Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and her office should be disqualified and removed from the prosecution, accusing her of benefiting financially from a romantic relationship with the special prosecutor she hired for the case, Nathan J. Wade.

If the judge removes them, it would delay and potentially derail a proceeding that has major implications for the 2024 presidential election. Here are takeaways from the second day of the misconduct hearing:

Defense lawyers had high hopes for drawing out damaging testimony from Terrence Bradley, a former law partner of Mr. Wade who also served as his divorce lawyer.

But they were frustrated twice: Mr. Bradley didn’t show up to testify in the morning. Then, once he took the stand in the afternoon, he continued to assert attorney-client privilege over many matters.

That led to repeated sparring between defense lawyers and the district attorney’s office over what questions he could be asked, and — at points — exasperation from a calm but clearly frustrated presiding judge, Scott McAfee.

Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer for one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants, took the unusual tactic of referring to text messages from her own cellphone that she had exchanged with Mr. Bradley after learning that Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade were dating.

Ms. Merchant was hoping to establish that the relationship started before Mr. Wade was hired to manage the Trump prosecution for Ms. Willis, which defense lawyers have asserted would benefit her financially if they were dating and taking expensive trips together.

But after more than two hours of questioning, Ms. Merchant and her fellow defense lawyers were unable to draw anything out of Mr. Bradley establishing that Mr. Wade was dating Ms. Willis when she hired him.

Judge McAfee did say, however, that he would review two text messages from Mr. Bradley to determine whether they are subject to attorney-client privilege, and thus cannot be disclosed.

After her heated exchanges with the defense attorneys while testifying on Thursday, Ms. Willis was expected to return to the stand on Friday. But in a surprise move, her office said they did not have additional questions for her.

Instead, Ms. Willis’s father, John Floyd III, testified about the death threats his daughter has faced in recent years, including when people showed up outside her house at 5:30 a.m. one morning yelling the “the b-word” and “the n-word.”

Mr. Floyd also backed up Ms. Willis’s testimony that she keeps money in her house, describing it as “a Black thing.” Ms. Willis said Thursday that she had paid back Mr. Wade in cash for the trips they took together.

“I’ve always told my daughter, you keep six months worth of cash, always,” Mr. Floyd said, adding that he gave his daughter her first cash box.

The district attorney’s office called former Gov. Roy Barnes of Georgia, who testified that Ms. Willis had also tried to hire him to manage the Trump case. The prosecution was trying to show that Mr. Wade was not Ms. Willis’s first choice, to establish that she didn’t hire him for personal gain.

Mr. Barnes, a prominent Georgia lawyer who represented a Michael Jordan-like figure to the other lawyers in the courtroom, said he turned Ms. Willis down because the money wasn’t good enough, and he didn’t want to deal with hate and vitriol for prosecuting Mr. Trump. “I wasn’t going to live with bodyguards for the rest of my life,” he said.

After adjourning, Judge McAfee said he would meet in private with Mr. Bradley and his attorney to discuss questions regarding attorney-client privilege and an accusation of sexual assault against Mr. Bradley while he worked with Mr. Wade. Mr. Bradley emphatically denied the allegation, and the judge did not allow further testimony about it from other witnesses.

The judge said he would then determine a date for lawyers to make their closing arguments on the conflict-of-interest question. It could happen late next week, or the following week, he said, meaning that there will be no quick resolution to the attempt to disqualify the lead prosecutors.

Ms. Willis’s office charged Mr. Trump and 18 of his allies in August 2023 with plotting to subvert the 2020 election results. Four of the defendants have pleaded guilty.