The Weekend Wrap: October 29, 2023
Another Trump lawyer pleads guilty in Georgia
Welcome to the Weekend Wrap! Here are last week’s white collar highlights:
Georgia State Case - January 6 Allegations
Another former Trump attorney has pleaded guilty in Georgia. Jenna Ellis admitted to aiding and abetting the making of false statements and writings, a felony.
You’ll recall that attorney Ken Chesebro pleaded guilty to filing false documents. His plea involved filing the phony slate of electors with the Georgia courts, which was Count 15 of the indictment.
Ellis’s plea is based on a different event. On December 3, 2020, she appeared before a meeting of the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee along with co-defendants Rudy Giuliani and Ray Sterling Smith III. During that meeting, Giuliani and Smith made several false statements about the Georgia election, including:
That 96,000 fraudulent mail-in ballots were counted
That 2,506 felons voted illegally
That 66,248 underage people voted illegally
That 2,432 unregistered people voted
That 1,043 people voted who had registered illegally
That 10,315 or more dead people voted; and
That Fulton County election workers ordered poll watchers and members of the media to leave the tabulation area on the night of November 3, 2020 and then continued to work
During her plea, Ellis admitted these statements were false and that she took part in those statements being made. Her plea is based on Counts 3 and 4 of the indictment.
It’s significant that this plea involves a different area of false statements. DA Willis has now secured guilty pleas from defendants involved in the fake electors plot, in tampering with voting machines, and now in lying to the Georgia legislature. More and more of the allegations in the overall scheme to overturn the Georgia election are being validated by guilty pleas from those involved.
This plea in particular puts Rudy Giuliani in the crosshairs. Ellis directly implicates him in knowingly making false statements to the Georgia legislature. As with the earlier pleas, Ellis is required by her agreement to testify in any other relevant court proceedings.
It’s notable that of the four defendants who have pleaded guilty so far in Georgia, three of them are attorneys who worked for either Trump or his campaign. I’m not sure exactly what that says - maybe it’s easier for them to see the writing on the wall or to recognize a good deal. But one thing is clear: to the extent Trump hoped to claim he was relying in good faith on legal advice, that defense gets pretty tricky when so many of your attorneys are admitting they committed crimes on your behalf.
There is still no trial date set for the remaining 15 defendants. We can probably expect some additional guilty pleas from more lower-level players in the near future.
DC Federal Case - January 6 Allegations
In a series of late night filings on Monday, Trump’s attorneys raised a number of challenges to his indictment. His attorneys had already filed a motion to dismiss based on absolute presidential immunity, which we’ve discussed in prior posts.
On Monday they filed:
A motion to dismiss on Constitutional grounds
A motion to dismiss on statutory grounds
A motion to dismiss for vindictive and selective prosecution, and
A motion to strike “inflammatory allegations” from the indictment
None of these were really a surprise, and I don’t expect any of them to go anywhere.
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