Two high profile defendants in Trump's Georgia case will now be cooperating with prosecutors. Although this trial is not as important as some of the numerous other situations going on, it's going to be a difficult path for the remaining 16 charged.
Sidney K. Powell, who spun some of the wildest conspiracy theories about ballot fraud as a member of Donald J. Trump’s legal team after he lost the 2020 election, pleaded guilty on Thursday morning to six misdemeanor counts. She is one of 19 people, including Mr. Trump, who were indicted in August for trying to subvert the election results in Georgia, and she has agreed to testify against any of the remaining defendants.
Her guilty plea was a blow to Mr. Trump, who faces the most charges of any defendant other than Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer. Significantly, Ms. Powell is the first of Mr. Trump’s close advisers from the post-election period to flip, which could also help the federal election interference case against him.
Cracking the former president’s inner circle has long been a challenge for prosecutors, as it was for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots. Ms. Powell, 68, was a frequent visitor to the White House after the election and had direct dealings with the highest-profile defendants in the case, including Mr. Trump, who considered naming her a special counsel to investigate voter fraud.
Appearing Thursday in a downtown Atlanta courtroom, she was sentenced to six years of probation for six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. That is a significantly less-severe outcome than she would have faced if found guilty of the seven felonies for which she was originally indicted, which included a violation of the state racketeering law. Her criminal trial was set to begin next week.
Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer criminally charged in Georgia for his role in what prosecutors describe as a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Donald J. Trump, accepted a plea deal on Friday, becoming the third of 19 co-defendants to plead guilty in the wide-ranging criminal racketeering indictment that also names Mr. Trump.
The plea from Mr. Chesebro, 62, came a day after Sidney K. Powell, another Trump-aligned lawyer charged in the case, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. Both defendants had exercised their right to a speedy trial under Georgia law, and had been preparing for jury selection to start on Monday.
Their trial will no longer go forward. But Mr. Chesebro’s plea has added to a sudden sense of momentum in favor of prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga. As part of his plea deal, Mr. Chesebro agreed to “truthfully testify” against the remaining co-defendants, as did Ms. Powell and Scott Hall, an Atlanta bail bondsman who accepted a plea deal in the case in late September.
Under the agreement, Mr. Chesebro pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing of false documents and was sentenced to five years’ probation, although if he complies with its terms he may later ask that his probation be reduced to three years. He was also instructed to write a letter of apology to the state of Georgia (he said he had already done so) and to pay $5,000 in restitution to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
The two consecutive plea deals spell only bad news for Mr. Trump and his 15 remaining co-defendants, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, his former White House chief of staff, who are set to be tried at a later date.
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