Pleas in Trump’s Georgia Racketeering Case Show ‘Dam Breaking’

Post Reply
Posts: 1707
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:53 am

Re: Pleas in Trump’s Georgia Racketeering Case Show ‘Dam Breaking’

Post by Rideback »

ABC has reported that there's at least another 6 that Willis has been in talks for pleas.

Now reporting is that her plan all along was to have 19 pleas and one defendant, Donald Trump.
User avatar
Posts: 2414
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:03 pm

Pleas in Trump’s Georgia Racketeering Case Show ‘Dam Breaking’

Post by pasayten »

(Bloomberg) -- A trio of guilty pleas over the past week from lawyers charged in the 2020 election racketeering case in Georgia show prosecutors circling closer to Donald Trump and his inner sanctum of post-election advisers ahead of a trial.

The guilty pleas by Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell mean all three could take the stand against the former president and give prosecutors more leverage in the meantime to convince some of the remaining 15 defendants in the case to also plead guilty.

The first round of plea agreements sets the bar for how favorable a deal others can get, creating a sense of urgency to negotiate before the offers from prosecutors get worse. Even if testimony from Chesebro, Ellis, and Powell isn’t enough to directly implicate Trump in criminal activity, they could still help the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis flip some of his alleged co-conspirators.

“There’s a dam-breaking effect,” said Sarah Krissoff, a former federal prosecutor in New York. “More significant than perhaps the testimony that these individuals may give against Trump is the fact that it may just signify a trend of others being willing to cooperate against him to save their own hides.”

Four of the 19 defendants in Georgia have pleaded guilty. Bail bondsman Scott Hall kicked off the parade of pleas in late September, admitting to being part of a scheme to unlawfully breach election equipment in rural Coffee County. But the three attorneys’ recent admissions of guilt lock in cooperation from higher-profile players.

Powell’s plea focused on her role in the Coffee County breach, but she was also a high-profile proponent of false voter fraud conspiracy theories and led a string of unsuccessful legal contests to President Joe Biden’s wins. During a December 2020 showdown in the Oval Office between administration officials and Powell and other conservative activists, Trump at one point considered appointing her as a special counsel to investigate election fraud.

Chesebro was accused of developing the legal case to have pro-Trump electors falsely certify him as the winner in battleground states and of helping to put the plan into action. He pleaded guilty to being part of a conspiracy that included Trump, Giuliani, Eastman and others.

Ellis, the latest defendant to take a deal, appeared before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee on Tuesday to admit aiding the presentation of false information to Georgia lawmakers and supporting efforts to disrupt Congress’ certification of the results. She said she worked closely with Giuliani and another attorney charged in the case, Ray Smith III.

With so many defendants who had varying relationships with one another, the plea deals give the district attorney’s office options for how to leverage them, said Amy Lee Copeland, a former federal prosecutor in Georgia. For instance, while Giuliani’s loyalty to Trump has appeared strong, she said, prosecutors could focus on trying to use Ellis’ plea against Smith – who has pleaded not guilty – instead.

“They appear to be doing this very strategically, looking at the people they would need to construct their case and build it out,” Copeland said.

Willis’s office can gain other advantages from early deals, experts said. Chesebro and Powell pleaded guilty on the eve of a trial this month, meaning the remaining defendants won’t get a preview of prosecutors’ jury presentation.

The fact that lawyers pleaded guilty could make it harder for Trump to try to argue in the future that his communications with them are covered by attorney-client privilege, Copeland said. The law carves out exceptions to the privilege if a person is accused of using an attorney to further criminal or fraudulent activity.

Chesebro and Ellis pleaded guilty to felonies, while Powell admitted to misdemeanors. They all avoided the most serious racketeering charge that centers around Trump, a fact that Trump’s lawyer Steve Sadow has stressed in distancing his client from the guilty pleas. In response to Ellis’s plea, Sadow released a statement saying the “so-called RICO case is nothing more than a bargaining chip for Willis.”

All three attorneys will spend several years on probation, pay fines and restitution, and write apology letters to the citizens of Georgia. They had to agree to testify in future trials and give statements to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors agreed to language making them eligible for first-time offender status under Georgia law, which means they won’t have convictions on their records once they successfully complete their sentences.

Witnesses who avoid prison time by cutting deals typically face credibility attacks on the stand. The more lenient the terms of a deal, the more defense lawyers can use that to attack a cooperator before a jury, said Randy Chartash, a former federal prosecutor in Atlanta.

Chesebro got a “slap on the wrist,” Chartash said, but his guilty plea to a conspiracy connected to Trump would likely be more helpful to prosecutors. By comparison, he called Powell’s deal a “wag of the finger.”
Ray Peterson
Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest