New Guilty Pleas Unlikely to Bolster Georgia Case Against Trump, Former Prosecutor Says

Three of former President Donald Trump’s legal advisors have entered guilty pleas in an ongoing criminal case in Fulton County, Georgia in the past week, but former prosecutor David Gelman said those plea deals are unlikely to help prosecutors convict the former president.

“I know, the mainstream media is really hounding down and say, ‘Oh, the Trump’s inner circle is collapsing.’ I don’t see it,” Mr. Gelman told NTD News’ “Capitol Report” on Wednesday.

In August, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged President Trump and 18 other individuals in a sweeping alleged conspiracy to unlawfully overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

Attorney Sydney Powell, who supported efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, pled guilty on Oct. 19 to six misdemeanor charges. The following day, attorney Kenneth Chesebro took a plea deal and accepted one felony count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Jenna Ellis, another attorney who supported President Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, also pled guilty on Tuesday to a single felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

NTD Photo
Jenna Ellis reacts with her lawyers after reading a statement pleading guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings inside Fulton County Courtroom in Atlanta on Oct. 24, 2023. (John Bazemore/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Scott Hall, a bail bondsman also charged in the Fulton County case, took a plea deal last month, accepting responsibility for five misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.

As part of their plea deals, Mr. Chesebro, Mr. Hall, Ms. Powell, and Ms. Ellis have all agreed to testify for the prosecution as it proceeds with its case against President Trump and the remaining co-defendants.

Mr. Gelman—who served as the assistant county prosecutor in Burlington County, New Jersey, before launching his own criminal defense practice in 2017, Gelman Law—suggested the prosecutors likely offered these early plea deals to see if they could get other defendants in the case to flip and isolate President Trump legally.

“When I was a prosecutor, we charged everybody as much as we possibly could, for the simple reason that we know people are going to flip,” Mr. Gelman said. “…[The prosecutors] want to make everybody just kind of sweat if you will, and kind of just break, and you know flip if you want on the main individual. In this situation, it’s the former president.”

Steve Sadow, an attorney representing President Trump in the Fulton County case, has also minimized the risk his client could face if prosecutors called Ms. Powell or Mr. Chesebro to the witness stand. Mr. Sadow said if the prosecution does indeed call Ms. Powell to testify, her truthful testimony would only bolster President Trump’s defense arguments.

“I fully expect that truthful testimony would be favorable to my defense strategy,” Mr. Sadow again added following Mr. Chesebro’s guilty plea.

Sidney Powell
Sidney Powell speaking during a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

More Plea Deals Likely: Gelman

Mr. Gelman said defendants often enter plea agreements because they can’t keep up with their legal costs and predicted many of the remaining defendants in this case would likely do the same.

He said it would be difficult to know how President Trump’s legal team will respond until they know how these other defendants may testify.

“What are they going to offer? That is the whole question on this. And if I’m the defense attorneys for Donald Trump, remember, they’re going to have the opportunity to cross-examine all these individuals who have cut plea deals and who are allegedly going to testify against him,” Mr. Gelman said.

In any case, the prosecutor-turned-defense attorney argued that any co-defendants who do take plea deals won’t be able to prove President Trump intended to commit a crime.

“They’re not going to show the intent of Donald Trump,” Mr. Gelman told NTD News. “So unless they’re going to actually say that Donald Trump ‘ordered me to do X, Y and Z,’ I don’t think they’re going to have really much to go on.”

The Aug. 14 indictment alleges Mr. Chesebro recommended the Trump campaign’s strategy of nominating alternate slates of electors in the various states whose 2020 election results the Trump campaign had challenged. Mr. Chesebro also allegedly communicated with other attorneys who were indicted in the Fulton County case, including Ray Smith and John Eastman.

Kenneth Chesebro, (L), confers with is lawyer Scott Grubman as Judge Scott MacAfee presides as the lawyers of Sidney Powell and Mr. Chesebro appear during a motions hearing in the election subversion case in Atlanta, on Oct. 10, 2023. (Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP)

The indictment alleges Ms. Powell and Ms. Ellis made false statements concerning election fraud in Georgia at a Nov. 19 press conference on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Ms. Powell also allegedly met with President Trump on Dec. 18, 2020, to discuss strategies for challenging the 2020 election results, including seizing vote tabulation machines and granting her special counsel authority to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia. Prosecutors had also alleged Ms. Powell had committed a variety of unlawful behavior while inspecting election equipment in Coffee County, Georgia.

The Georgia indictment also alleged Ms. Ellis participated in efforts to convince Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania legislators to allow for the appointment of alternate slates of electors and authored two separate memorandums describing means of delaying the certification of the 2020 election results.

The indictment alleges Mr. Hall engaged in a variety of unlawful acts for his involvement in handling the Coffee County election equipment.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.