Trump co-defendant loses lawyers in Georgia RICO case

Left: Judge Scott McAfee speaks during a Fulton County Superior Court hearing on the Georgia election challenge Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Atlanta. (John David Mercer/USA Today via AP, Pool). Right: Trevian Kutti appears in McAfee's court via video conference on Friday, January 12, 2024 (via YouTube/Judge Scott McAfee). Inset: Trevian Kutti (via Fulton County Sheriff's Office).

A defendant in the wide-ranging criminal election interference and extortion case in Georgia against former President Donald Trump and more than a dozen others is proceeding without a lawyer – at least for now.

As Law&Crime previously reported, lawyers for Trevian Kutti, a former publicist for the rapper formerly known as Kanye West who is now charged alongside the former president, filed a motion to resign as counsel in December.

At a hearing Friday, Kutti told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee that she was trying to find a way to afford to bring one of her former attorneys, Steve Greenberg, back into the case.

“I will try, first, to retain one of the attorneys involved in this conversation and, second, to seek additional legal counsel,” said Kutti, appearing via video.

McAfee said he was confused because Greenberg was one of the attorneys who requested to withdraw from representation.

Greenberg, who once represented famous R&B singer and convicted sex offender R. Kelly in a New York federal case, said his representation of Kutti was initially a personal favor, but things didn't go as expected.

“I have known Ms. Kutti for a long time, and when it first came up, before the arraignment, I said I would help her,” Greenberg said. “She believed that people could help her meet what I thought were minimal work commitments given the scale of the work. Unfortunately, these people didn't help her. So if she has the opportunity to seek private counseling at some point in the future, I would be willing to help her.”

Greenberg added that “as a friend, I just can't help her” as prosecutors expect a trial that will last at least four months.

After McAfee confirmed to Greenberg that he wanted to move forward with the request to withdraw from his practice, he said he would file a signed order granting the request. He also encouraged Kutti to be “careful” in finding an attorney, telling her that if an attorney joins the case close to trial and asks for a continuance, “that probably won't be granted.”

As of Saturday, the order had not appeared in public records.

Kutti is one of more than a dozen defendants, including the former president, who are accused of conspiring to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 election victory in the Peach State. In particular, she is accused of working with Black Voices for Trump activist Harrison Floyd and pastor Stephen Cliffgard Lee to pressure Georgia poll worker Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss to make false statements about the manner in which the vote was taken to do voice processing.

The women became targets after longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani falsely accused them of “stealing votes” at State Farm Arena in November 2020, and a federal jury ruled that he should now pay them $148 million in damages -dollars owed.

Four defendants in Georgia's RICO case have pleaded guilty: attorney Jenna Ellis, so-called “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, accused coup memo co-author Kenneth Chesebro and bail bondsman Scott Hall.

Matt Naham contributed to this report.