Ex-Trump Lawyers' Testimony Could Be "Game Over" For Trump In Georgia Case
Former Trump lawyers, who were once the face of Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election, have pleaded guilty and are now delivering incriminating testimony against their former boss.
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Now we know why Trump’s former lawyers got such generous plea agreements.
In August, Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants were charged as a “criminal enterprise” in a behemoth RICO indictment for their plot to overturn the 2020 election. The racketeering prosecutorial strategy pursued by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis appears to have paid off. Since then, four of the defendants have pleaded guilty and are now flipping on Donald Trump.
ABC News and The Washington Post obtained video clips of hours-long proffer sessions former Trump lawyers held with Georgia prosecutors in October. Proffer sessions are when defendants who have agreed to cooperate meet with prosecutors to disclose evidence that could help their case. The testimony these defendants delivered is beyond helpful for prosecutors and truly damaging to Donald Trump.
DA Fani Willis has requested an emergency protective order, accusing the defense of leaking this footage in an effort to inspire threats and intimidation of these cooperating witnesses. When you look at the details of their testimony, you can see why the defense teams are likely nervous right now.
Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis said that Trump aide Dan Scavino told her that, “The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.”
Former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell said she was in the Oval Office while key advisors told Trump he lost. Powell also confirmed previous reporting that revealed Trump wanted to appoint Powell special counsel so she could seize voting machines.
Former Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro said that he personally briefed Trump on the scheme to replace legitimate Biden electors with fake Trump electors.
Trump’s former lawyers claiming Trump knew he lost, had no plans to leave office, and pursued his efforts to overturn the election anyway go a long way to proving corrupt motive and criminal intent. Also, this testimony that Trump was made directly aware of the illegal fake elector scheme in December 2020 is also incriminating.
Let’s dive into what Trump’s former lawyers told prosecutors and why it’s so damning for their former boss, according to legal experts.
What Trump’s Former Lawyers Told Prosecutors
Jenna Ellis Said Trump Planned To Stay In Office No Matter What
Jenna Ellis told prosecutors that Trump aide Dan Scavino told her Trump never intended to leave office.
At a holiday party on December 19, 2020, Jenna Ellis said she had emphasized to Scavino that their ability to challenge the election results "was essentially over." Ellis said Scavino replied by saying it didn’t matter:
"And he said to me, in a kind of excited tone, 'Well, we don't care, and we're not going to leave.’
"And I said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'Well, the boss', meaning President Trump -- and everyone understood 'the boss,' that's what we all called him -- he said, 'The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.'"
Ellis continues: "And I said to him, 'Well, it doesn't quite work that way, you realize?' and he said, 'We don't care.'"
This adds to the already mounting evidence that Donald Trump and his team didn’t care if they could legitimately overturn the election. They didn’t care whether their court challenges failed. No matter what, they would seek to stay in office illegally.
Sidney Powell Said Trump Was Repeatedly Told He Lost
Sidney Powell, known for her wild conspiracy theories and promises to “release the Kraken,” delivered key testimony that builds Trump’s criminal intent.
Powell testified she was in constant contact with Donald Trump throughout her efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
When Powell was asked if she was ever around when anyone told Trump he had lost the election, Powell replied, “Oh yeah.”
“Pat Cipollone, Eric Herschmann, Derek Lyons all thought he’d lost,” Powell proclaimed. Pat Cipollone, who served as Trump’s White House counsel, and Eric Herschmann, a former senior advisor to Trump, were both key witnesses during the January 6 Committee hearings and testified to their roles in telling Trump he lost. Powell is corroborating their testimony.
Trump was repeatedly told he lost, but he took Powell’s advice because she told him what he wanted to hear. Powell said the reason he took her advice is "Because I didn't think he had lost… I saw an avenue pursuant to which, if I was right, he would remain president."
Powell said she heard Trump’s advisors tell him he didn’t win during a December 18 Oval Office meeting in which Trump’s advisors also discussed the potential for seizing voting machines.
Powell said Trump "was specifically willing to appoint me special counsel.” Powell went into more detail to prosecutors:
“In fact, he looked over at [White House Counsel Pat] Cipollone three different times and said, 'Do I have the authority to name her special counsel?' and Cipollone said, 'Yes, you do.’”
"And then somebody said, 'Well, she doesn't have a security clearance.’ So he looked at Cipollone and he said, 'Do I have the authority to give her a security clearance?' and Cipollone said, 'Yes, you do.' And then about the third time we went through that scenario, Cipollone, I think, said, 'You can name her anything you want, Mr. President, and nobody's going to pay a bit of attention to it.'"
Powell went on to say that Trump wanted to appoint her special counsel so she could make an attempt to seize voting machines.
"I guess [Trump] assumed, and I would have thought, that I would have looked at putting into effect a provision of [draft executive order] 13848 that would have allowed the machines to be secured in four or five states or cities.”
So, in the same meeting where Trump is told he lost the election, Trump is inquiring about how he could empower Sidney Powell to seize voting machines. In her testimony, Powell also admitted she knew nothing about election law the entire time:
“Did I know anything about election law? No. But I understand fraud from having been a prosecutor for 10 years, and knew generally what the fraud suit should be if the evidence showed what I thought it showed."
Kenneth Chesebro Says He Briefed Trump On The Fake Elector Scheme
Kenneth Chesebro delivered damning testimony about Donald Trump’s direct knowledge of the fake elector plot to replace legitimate Biden electors with fake Trump electors.
According to The Washington Post, Chesebro described a December 16, 2020, Oval Office meeting where lawyers challenging the election results in Wisconsin appeared for a photo op. Dan Scavino and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were there. This was new information not previously known.
Chesebro described how, after the photo op, he briefed Trump on the fake elector plot:
“Near the end of the photo op, I had a back and forth with President Trump when the matter of Arizona came up. I briefed him on what my understanding was of what was happening in Arizona.”
Chesebro said Trump “piped up” at the information. Chesebro said Trump asked “four or five questions,” then Chesebro briefed Trump on his November 18, 2020, memo that outlined the entire fake elector plot and proclaimed January 6, 2021, as the “real deadline” for certifying electoral votes.
Directly tying Donald Trump to former lawyer John Eastman’s fake elector plot is really important. The fake elector plot is one of the most transparently criminal components of the effort to overturn the 2020 election. It was described in robust detail in the Fulton County RICO indictment.
A defendant with testimony of his direct conversations about this illegal plot is valuable to prosecutors. It builds upon what we already know was revealed in the January 6 Committee hearings, that Trump was explicitly told by Eastman the fake elector plot to pressure Pence to overturn the results was illegal.
Why This Is So Damning For Trump
Multiple co-defendants taking guilty pleas and delivering damning testimony is never good for a defendant. Here, it’s especially bad because the testimony is important for showcasing Trump’s intent, a key to any criminal trial.
Ryan Goodman, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security and a former special counsel for the Department of Defense, told CNN that while prosecutors don’t have to prove this to win the case, if they do prove that Trump knew he lost but tried to overturn the election anyway, that’s “game over.” Goodman spoke on Jenna Ellis’s testimony:
"She's adding something that's golden evidence for prosecutors both in Georgia and in DC, which is, they don't have to prove this but if they can show that Trump knew he lost and was still trying to hold on to power, that's it. That's game over. And that's exactly what she says is the context of the conversation."
Jenna Ellis didn’t relay info about her specific conversations with Trump on this, but Sidney Powell and Chesebro did. Powell outlined how she personally witnessed multiple Trump advisors tell Trump in the Oval Office that he lost.
National Security Lawyer Bradley P. Moss discussed how “devastating” this is for Trump in a post on Twitter/X:
“This is devastating in my view. Trump never had any intention of complying with the election results. He was told repeatedly in the presence of a convicted co-defendant that he had lost. He ignored it and conspired with his lawyers to overthrow the election anyway.”
Even if jurors aren’t given evidence of Trump acknowledging he lost himself, the fact he was told could be enough.
On MSNBC, Barbara McQuade, a former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and current Michigan University law professor, said jurors could rely on a legal concept called “willful blindness” to establish Trump’s intent. Willful blindness is when someone deliberately avoids acknowledging facts that would prove they were aware they were committing crimes.
Trump clearly did that by ignoring the advice from his White House Counsel in favor of sycophantic lawyers like Sidney Powell, who said she knew nothing about election law.
But of course, if we look beyond just the testimony from these co-defendants and back at the January 6 Committee hearings, there is testimony indicating Trump explicitly admitted he lost. I covered this with The Independent in a series of articles I did on the January 6 Committee hearings:
Alyssa Farah Griffin, who was the former Communications Director for Trump, claimed that he said, "Can you believe I lost to this f***ing guy." In new testimony, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson claimed when Trump was "raging" about the Supreme Court denying his election case, he said: "I don’t want people to know we lost."
I’m sure Georgia prosecutors will utilize a wide array of testimony in their effort to prove Trump was well aware he lost and pursued illegal acts to overturn the 2020 election anyway.
This is only the testimony we’ve seen publicly, and the potential for more guilty pleas to come provide an opportunity for even more damning testimony to be presented to a jury.
There’s also the potential that Special Counsel Jack Smith sees some of this testimony and subpoenas these witnesses in his federal election subversion case against Trump.
While Donald Trump puts all his chips on his presidential campaign saving him from criminal accountability, the chances of him being convicted continue to increase.