Fani T. Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, has made significant progress in her extensive racketeering case against former US President Donald Trump and 19 co-defendants. She quickly secured plea agreements and binding commitments to cooperate from key defendants, including former Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell, as well as Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall. Other key defendants, such as campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Mr. Trump, are left to squirm.
Ms. Willis’ extortion case is built like a pyramid with fringe figures like Mr. Hall at the bottom and Mr. Trump at the top. Plea deals with less prominent defendants securing testimony against more high-profile figures. The idea is to start at the bottom and work your way to the top of the alleged extortion structure. That Ms. Willis has already “flipped” several key defendants suggests she knows what she is doing.
Fragments of their confidential statements were leaked to the media. Ms. Ellis testified, for example, that Mr. Trump’s then-deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino — a key aide who long managed his social media presence — responded to her observation that they were quickly running out of legal options to support Joe’s victory Biden was formally confirmed by insisting excitedly: “We don’t care and we’re not going away.” She said she understood that to mean that Mr. Trump and his inner circle were determined to ignore the election results and the law and simply staying in power even if they lose cases and run out of legal arguments.
This statement may prove more frightening than an evidence bomb. It could well be excluded from the trial on the reasonable grounds that it was hearsay, and if this is allowed, Mr Trump’s lawyers will no doubt argue that the only relevant fact, whatever Ms Ellis what Mr. Scavino meant to say is that Mr. Trump actually left the White House, albeit without conceding defeat. But it shows the kind of testimony that can pile up against more significant defendants when less central figures decide to protect themselves by revealing the truth under oath.
Perhaps more significantly, Mr. Chesebro testified that he personally informed Mr. Trump of a legal memo outlining a plan for Republican-dominated legislatures in states won by Mr. Biden to try to organize “fake” voters to cast fraudulent votes for Mr. Trump in the election College (which technically elects the US President), thereby nullifying and reversing the results of the election and leaving him illegitimately in power. This could be one of the strongest pieces of evidence yet that Mr. Trump was aware of the unlawful “fake voter” plan that his campaign and supporters were pursuing to negate the election results.
Trump’s lawyers will argue that the only relevant fact is that he actually left the White House, albeit without admitting defeat
In Mr. Trump’s favor, however, both Ms. Ellis and Ms. Powell say they believe he somehow convinced himself that he actually won the election and was the target of a gigantic voter fraud conspiracy. His state of mind and beliefs could be important in determining his guilt on charges involving intent to violate the law, such as those arising from his infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger . Mr. Trump demanded that he “get” 11,780 additional votes for him in the state, exactly the number he needed to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory in Georgia. Mr. Trump even appeared to threaten Mr. Raffensperger with an unspecified criminal disclosure, apparently suggesting that he could be prosecuted if he failed to falsify that exact number of nonexistent votes.
This case will likely hinge on whether it is a violation of Georgia criminal law—and by extension, law throughout the U.S.—for politicians and officials to conspire to overturn a legitimate election result and thereby the U.S -To destroy the constitutional system The cover is simply to give and receive legitimate legal advice. The defense of Mr. Trump and these lawyers in this case may ultimately come down to the question of whether it is criminal to use legal maneuvers — as opposed to the more obvious unlawful violent attack on Congress on January 6 that was aimed at overturning formal confirmation to block Mr Biden’s victory in the popular vote and the Electoral College – to attack the most fundamental elements of the US constitutional system: free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power.
Charles Burnham, attorney for law professor John Eastman, the lead author of the “fake voter” scheme, argued, “Professor Eastman has no problem with Greg Jacob, Ken Chesebro, or anyone else disagreeing with his arguments.” The point in “This case is that legal disagreements over unresolved questions of constitutional law should not be criminalized.”
In layman’s terms, this means that it was not an attempted coup at all, but merely conflicting legitimate legal opinions. And that is why it would be absurd and outrageous to criminalize the giving and receiving of legal advice. These are indeed “unresolved questions of constitutional law,” especially because no previous president had the audacity to attempt a legal coup.
Both Ms. Powell and Ms. Ellis admitted that Mr. Trump relied on their highly dubious advice because, unlike virtually all of the administration and Trump campaign lawyers who unanimously insisted that he must accept defeat, they told him what he wanted to hear: that he could somehow stay in power and overturn his defeat through bold legal maneuvers.
The argument that these are just conflicting legal opinions is clever and seemingly plausible, but if the U.S. Constitution cannot protect itself from subversion through conspiracies of legal chicanery as well as from threats of violent insurrection, it is a fatal weakness and fundamental incoherent document.
Ms. Willis says the Georgia trial won’t be complete until early 2025 at the earliest, well after the November election. What is most significant about their case, however, is that neither Mr. Trump nor any Republican president, if they win, could disrupt this state trial or reverse a verdict, unlike comparable federal criminal cases led by Jack Smith.
If Ms. Willis continues to topple Mr. Trump’s co-defendants like dominoes, each knocking the other to the ground with her testimony — combined with existing damning evidence like the recording of the Raffensperger phone call — she could be the only one have launched serious prosecutions, leaving Mr. Trump with no strong defense and no way out.
Updated: November 20, 2023, 2:00 p.m