She is very scared of the texts, she said as much on one (1) of the VAR conversations she had with her Sister. I am not sure if I can recover them but now it really makes me want to see what was being said. At this point I am just trying to be slow & methodical to cover my bases.
You need to get that phone and keep it in your possession, before one of her friends shows her how to do a factory re-set, which wipes out pretty much everything.
By all means take the phone to a tech specialist or a private investigator to recover as much as possible. There are software packages around that can be downloaded and tried, but someone like a PI will be able to do that while also having ideas about where things can be hidden.
Remember this golden rule: you can bluff. Even if you do not really take the phone to a specialist, or you do, and he cannot recover anything, tell your wife that is what you are doing. Wait for a few days. Then say you have to go and review the findings with the specialist.
Come back silent and serious. Tell her you have read a lot, and ask your wife what she has to say about what she wrote about you, and about the AP, and if she meant all of it.
Get yourself a pen drive. Hold it up and show it to her. Tell her the messages and "All the other material" is all on it, in case you need it in future. Then hide it very securely. All is fair in love and war. Let her sweat, and worry about that stuff being revealed to a wider audience.
One thought; if your wife is scared of the texts, she is scared they may upset you, and if she cares about you being upset, then she cares about the future of the marriage and remaining with you. If she did not give a damn about that, and she really thought she was going to leave and start a new life with the AP, she would not care. Knowing that she does not want to lose what she has gives you leverage.
It also provides you with insight for when you tell her she is welcome to pack up and go and be with the AP if he is so fantastic, because it is becoming clear that the whole 'starting a new life' thing was never a part of the affair, and the AP would very likely tell her she cannot move in with him.
Logical follow-up questions would be, "Doesn't he want you living with him? Doesn't he want to take care of you for the rest of your life? If he did, would you abandon us and go to be with him? Are you only here because he doesn't want you for anything other than free sex?"
Brutal, for sure, but it will help to demolish the whole 'soulmate' delusion that your wife built in her fantasy world.
Sadly, it is no surprise to find that her bunch of friends are all involved in some kind of marital monkey business. That is often how people get drawn into the idea of having affairs, and a group of toxic friends like that can actually promote the idea, because it becomes the group 'norm'. Yes, her one friend of two decades told her to smarten up, but the AP is that guy's friend, and the AP clearly takes a different view, and the friend did not tell the AP to back off.
Moving forwards, if you choose to give your wife a chance, she is going to have to sever her ties with that group of people, because they are a problem waiting to happen. Particularly if the AP is a member of that crew in good standing.
I think that if you have been married to your wife for twenty years, and she has known that male work colleague for twenty years, it is definitely worth asking your wife how many other times she has had affairs. I am not suggesting she has, but it is a worthwhile angle to pursue, based on the fact that her work friend of two decades introduced her to the AP. "So...How many other guys has he introduced you to over the years?"
Something new that came out with my conversation with the WW is that they went to third base not just kissing anymore. She acted like she had told me this before, ah no I am pretty sure I would remember that. We plan to go over the timeline tonight, but I am sure more bones will fall out of the closet. She told him she stopped him from closing the deal & was adamant about it.
That story begs the obvious question, "Why would you go to third base with a man you did not want to have sex with? You are not sixteen years old, you are a grown woman having an affair. Why was third base was fine, but then you suddenly put up a firm and unbreachable boundary?"
Your wife is still trickle-truthing you, but your resolute approach to this will break those barriers down.