DemDaily: The Art of the Plea Deal

October 26, 2023

Ten weeks after Donald Trump was indicted by Fulton County US Attorney Fani Willis for "criminal enterprise," the former President's co-conspirators have begun to flip, with already four of the 18 making a plea deal.

On Tuesday, former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows -- perhaps the most damaging of witnesses -- became the latest to turn against his former boss, reportedly striking a plea deal in exchange for immunity.

On August 14 Fulton County US Attorney Fani Willis announced the indictment of Trump and 18 co-conspirators for their "criminal racketeering enterprise" in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Trump was personally charged with 13 felony counts, bringing to a total 91 felony counts against him in four separate cases as he runs for president in 2024.

The announcement of Meadows' defection came after the Tuesday morning plea of guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings by former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis. In exchange for her cooperation and testimony against Trump and his remaining co-defendants, Ellis agreed to five years probation, a $5,000 restitution and 100 hours of community service.

She is the third member of Trump's legal team to flip on him in the Georgia case, behind Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, who both pleaded guilty on related charges last week. They followed Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall, the first person to roll in the Georgia racketeering case, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to access voting machine data in exchange for probation and community service.

Powell, who pushed baseless and far-fetched allegations of voter fraud after Trump lost the 2020 election and filed lawsuits attempting to reverse the results, pleaded guilty October 19 in Fulton County Superior Court to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. Powell, who has agreed to testify in other election interference trials, cut a plea deal one day before jury selection in her trial was set to begin. She was sentenced to six years of probation, a $6,000 fine and $2,700 in restitution to Georgia.

Chesebro, one of the architects of Trump's fake electors plot, was originally charged with seven crimes, including a violation of Georgia’s RICO act, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer. Six of the seven felony charges were dropped as part of his plea deal, struck just moments after jury selection began for his trial October 20.

Instead, in addition to agreeing to testify against his co-conspirators, Chesebro was charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents -- admitting to putting forward unauthorized slates of GOP electors in Georgia and other states “in coordination with” with Trump and former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee sentenced Chesebro to five years of probation and $5,000 in restitution. Like Powell, he also agreed to write an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia. None of the plea deals to-date include jail time.

Meadows immunity deal, however, was not cut in Fulton County -- where he has pleaded not guilty to charges and has appealed to the 11th Circuit Court to transfer the state case against him from Georgia to federal court.

His agreement is with Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the federal election interference case into Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Meadows reportedly met with prosecutors from Smith's office three times over the last year, telling them he had repeatedly told Trump in the weeks following the 2020 election that the significant allegations of voter fraud claims were baseless.

Meadows secured immunity in exchange for testifying before a federal grand jury on the promise that nothing he said could be used against him. The former White House Chief of Staff also disavowed what he had written in his book, "The Chief's Chief," that the election was "stolen" and "rigged" despite "actual evidence of fraud right there in plain sight." He admitted to seeing no evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election. That case is expected to go to trial in March 2024.

In still more developments this week, former Trump attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen took the stand to testify against the former president and real estate magnate in a $250 million civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James -- charging the Trump Organization, Trump, his adult children, and others for their part in a “staggering” decade-long scheme to criminally defraud tax authorities.

Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign-finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud related to his work on behalf of Trump, was among the first to flip on Trump -- testifying before Congress in 2018.

He will not be the last.

DemList will keep you informed.

DemDaily: Inmate #P01135809 8/28/23
DemDaily: Georgia Charges Trump +18 in Criminal Enterprise 8/15/23
DemDaily: The United States v. Trump 8/2/23
DemDaily: The Trials of Trump. Where They Stand 7/31/23
DemDaily: Arrested and Arraigned 6/14/23
DemDaily: 37 Counts 6/12/23
DemDaily: Liable 5/10/23
DemDaily: With Intent to Defraud and Conceal 4/4/23
DemDaily: Indicted 3/31/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: New Republic, Rolling Stone, ABC, NBC, CNN, New York Times

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