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Trump Legal News: Turn, Turn, Turn!

Yesterday, for the third time in as many business days, one of Donald Trump's former lawyers turned on him and took a plea deal in Georgia. The newest canary to sing is Jenna Ellis, who becomes the fourth of the 19 Georgia defendants to cop a plea.

Yet again, reader A.R. in Los Angeles—who, as a lawyer, is better equipped to comment than us—has been kind enough to write up an assessment:

To recap, when last we met our conspirators, Sydney "release the Kraken" Powell had just pled guilty to six misdemeanor counts and will serve 6 years' probation in exchange for testifying against the other 18 remaining defendants. The next to plead guilty was Kenneth "The Cheese" Chesebro (yes, that's actually his nickname, as he's from Wisconsin). He had to plead guilty to a felony and will serve 5 years' probation in exchange for cooperating.

Enter Jenna Ellis. She has now entered a guilty plea to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She was originally charged with two counts: (1) Racketeering (RICO) and (2) solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer. While the earlier plea deals were primarily bad news for Trump, this plea is very bad news for Giuliani. He should invest now in some really heavy-duty hair dye because he'll be sweating more than at that press conference.

The Georgia indictment lays out in granular detail all the various strands in the illegal effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election and keep Trump in power. These strands can be organized into 3 buckets (forgive the mixed metaphor): (1) sow doubt and confusion in the state legislatures in swing states to pressure Republican legislators to take action to disrupt the certification process either at the state or federal level; (2) submit fake electors to Congress to disrupt the certification process on Jan. 6; and (3) access voting machines and steal software to claim the machines are part of a larger plot to rig the election. Chesebro was the architect for the fake electors and Powell orchestrated the voting machine heist in Coffee County. With those guilty pleas, Willis has buckets 2 and 3 covered.

With Ellis, she now has a state's witness for Bucket #1. That was Giuliani's mandate. He was tasked with contacting and pressuring the Republican legislators in key swing states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Nevada. Ellis accompanied him and participated in presentations on all these trips with the exception of Nevada, so no doubt she took part in all the planning and strategy sessions. The scheme was to first disrupt the state certification process on December 14 and when that failed, to put into action their efforts to disrupt the electoral count in Congress. Ellis even penned two memos laying out her theory on how to disrupt the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 and stop the vote count. According to the indictment, she wrote, "the Vice-president [sic] should begin alphabetically in order of the states and coming first to Arizona, not open the purported certification, but simply stop the count at that juncture."

Ellis took the unusual step of addressing the Court and expressed remorse for her actions. She sounded genuine, which would make her testimony against other defendants that much more powerful and persuasive. Quite frankly, Giuliani should be getting his affairs in order. I don't think there's anything he could offer Willis that would cause her to agree to a plea to lesser charges. Not only did he plot to use Georgia officials to overthrow the duly elected president, but he also ruined the lives of two dedicated public servants who were only doing their jobs to ensure a free and fair election. She takes that very seriously and she wants him to be held accountable for those crimes. With the Ellis plea, she's got him.

My guess is the next to flip will be John Eastman—he's running out of time to get a good deal and with his skin tone, orange is really not his color.

Thanks yet again, A.R.! And on that final point, after Chesebro turned traitor, we ran a survey asking readers to predict who would flip next. Here are the results, along with some comments on each (we neglected to ask people to identify themselves, so we can't give credit, unfortunately):

  1. Ellis (31.1%):

  2. Eastman (26.9%):

  3. Former White House Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows (12.1%):

  4. Coffee County staffer and fake elector Cathy Latham (6.4%):

  5. Coffee County staffer Misty Hampton (4.3%):

  6. Giuliani (3.9%):

  7. Fake elector Ray Smith (2.5%):

  8. Former DoJ official Jeffrey Clark (2.4%):

  9. Fake elector David Shafer (2%):

  10. There will be no more plea deals (1.7%):

  11. Coffee County staffer Scott Graham Hall (0.8%):

  12. Former leader of Black Voices for Trump Harrison William Prescott Floyd (0.7%):

  13. Trump campaign staffer Michael Roman (0.66%):

  14. Giver of false testimony Robert Cheeley (0.63%):

  15. Donald Trump (0.6%):

  16. Publicist Trevian C. Kutti (0.5%):

  17. Pastor Stephen Cliffgard Lee (0.45%):

  18. State Senator and fake elector Shawn Still (0.4%):

Some good thoughts, some funny thoughts, and some good and funny thoughts. The third Meadows commenter, as it turns out, is right... at least in part. There's no indication the former White House Chief of Staff has flipped in Georgia, but according to ABC News, he has been granted federal immunity by Jack Smith, and has already sat with the Special Counsel's team for several interviews. The most significant thing Meadows reportedly said is that he told Trump several times that the election was not stolen, and that it was as secure as any presidential election has ever been. In view of the fact that the bridge is now officially burned, it's hard to see why Meadows wouldn't flip in Georgia, unless Willis is not offering a deal (or is not offering a sweet enough deal).

Meanwhile, in case it wasn't enough for Trump to get stabbed in the back in Georgia, and also in Washington, he got to sit in court yesterday and watch former fixer Michael Cohen spill all kinds of dirt. Cohen said, among other things, that Trump is a "proven liar" (certainly true) and that when it was necessary to assign a value to a property, or to judge his former boss' net worth, Trump would just pull a number out of thin air and then order CFO Allen Weisselberg and his staff to cook up paperwork that supported the figure. Trump's legal team tried to impeach the witness by pointing out that he's been convicted of perjury. That is true, Cohen has been, but "the witness is a liar" generally only works when the defendant isn't an even bigger liar, which does not appear to be the case here.

In short, not a great day for the former president on the legal front. That will happen, as we understand it, when you're facing 91 felony counts in four different jurisdictions. (Z)

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