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DA Fani Willis testified she paid cash during trips with top prosecutor. One winery host remembers her paying in paper bills


By Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — After spending more than two hours tasting wine at a Napa Valley estate with her top prosecutor on the Georgia election subversion case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis reached into her purse and pulled out about $400 in cash.

Willis used the money to pay for two bottles of wine – each valued at roughly $150 – and the $50 tasting, according to Stan Brody, who said he hosted Willis and a guest he later learned was Nathan Wade, at Acumen Wines in early 2023.

Brody, who was the estate ambassador for Acumen Wines that day, told CNN he was surprised when Willis paid using hundreds of dollars in cash – a memorable transaction, he said, as such cash sales are rare in Napa Valley. The self-described “news junkie” said his memory was jogged as he watched Willis and Wade testify last week about their romantic relationship and bat down allegations of self-dealing while under oath.

Willis testified last week that her use of cash explains why there is no paper trail documenting reciprocal payments she made during her trips with Wade. Brody’s account corroborates at least part of that testimony and lends credibility to Willis’ argument that her cash expenditures show she did not benefit financially from her relationship with Wade and thus she should not be disqualified from the case. Willis’ father, John Floyd, testified at length about his longtime recommendation that his daughter keep cash around.

“I ran(g) up the thing and I showed her. I was expecting a credit card quite frankly,” Brody recalled to CNN in an interview Monday. “And she says I’ll pay cash. And so that was that. So then I just put the cash in, made change for her and she was very generous to me.”

Brody told CNN he has not talked to the DA’s office or defense counsel, seeking to disqualify Willis from the Georgia case about the visit to Acumen wines in 2023. Willis’ office declined to comment.

Defense attorneys for Donald Trump and other co-defendants want a judge to disqualify Willis’ team from the criminal case – or throw out the charges – over allegations the district attorney benefited financially from her relationship with Wade, whom Willis hired in 2021 to join the prosecution team.

During her testimony, Willis was peppered with questions about her claim that she reimbursed Wade in cash for trips to Aruba, the Bahamas and Belize, as well as for wine tastings, chocolates and caviar in Napa Valley.

Wade also testified that Willis paid cash for excursions on at least one vacation and paid him back for plane flights and other travel. “She paid for the excursions so the expenses sort of balanced out,” he said.

“When I travel I always pay cash,” Willis said of the trips with Wade, saying that she paid Wade back for certain transportation and excursions during the travel.

“He likes wine, I don’t really like wine to be honest with you,” Willis said during her testimony, which at times grew tense. “I like Grey Goose.”

Explaining why there were no receipts for Willis’ reimbursements and other payments, Wade said he wasn’t keeping a ledger of what he paid for versus what Willis paid for.

“In a relationship, ma’am, you don’t – particularly men, we don’t go asking back for anything. So you’re not keeping a ledger of things that you pay for versus the thing that she’s paid for,” Wade said. “Which is why I said that it was a point of contention because she was very emphatic and adamant about this independent, strong woman thing. So she demanded that she pay her own way.”

Wade testified before Willis took the stand that Willis repaid him in cash for a trip to Belize but that he didn’t have a record of it. Willis said she re-paid Wade $2,500 for that trip.

Brody looked back on his time with Willis and Wade positively.

“These are really nice people,” he said. “I treat people at the winery every time … as if you’re sitting in my living room. And they were the kind of people that if I was having a party at my home that I would have invited. That’s what I came away with.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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