Trump-allied attorney Kenneth Chesebro pleads guilty in Georgia election subversion case

The architect of the fake elector scheme is the third defendant to plead guilty in election interference case

Alex Woodward
Friday 20 October 2023 18:00 BST
Trump ally Kenneth Chesebro pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case

Kenneth Chesebro, the architect of the so-called “alternate” elector plot to overturn 2020 presidential election results in states that Donald Trump lost, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in a sprawling Georgia case accusing the former president of joining a criminal enterprise to subvert the state’s election outcome.

The Trump-allied attorney was set to be tried separately from 16 other defendants in the case along with Sidney Powell, who reached a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors on 19 October, just one day before jury selection.

Mr Chesebro entered a plea in a Fulton County courtroom in Atlanta on 20 October.

He has pleaded guilty to one felony: conspiracy to commit filing false documents, the fraudulent electoral college certification for Georgia’s election results performed in coordination with Mr Trump’s campaign, according to prosecutors.

That scheme, supported by attorneys John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, who are co-defendants in the case, enlisted a slate of false electors who met at the Georgia state capitol to falsely proclaim Mr Trump’s victory in the state after his definitive loss.

He was sentenced to five years of probation, a $5,000 fine in restitution to the state, and 100 days of community service. He has also agreed to testify in any other connected case and write an apology letter.

Mr Chesebro, like the other defendants in the case, was initially charged under the state’s anti-racketeering statute. He also was charged with conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer. Those charges were dropped as part of a guilty plea arrangement to other crimes.

Ms Powell was accused of playing a central role in an effort to seize voting machines in Coffee County in the volatile aftermath of the election in January 2021. She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to interfere with elections during a surprise hearing with her attorney and prosecutors.

She faces a sentence of six years of probation, a $6,000 fine and $2,700 in restitution to the state of Georgia, and she must write an apology letter to Georgia voters and testify “truthfully against any and all co-defendants in this matter,” according to the judge.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee addresses potential jurors moments before Kenneth Chesebro reached a plea deal with prosecutors on 20 October.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee addresses potential jurors moments before Kenneth Chesebro reached a plea deal with prosecutors on 20 October. (AP)

In the days leading up to their pleas, attorneys for Ms Powell and Mr Chesebro – both of whom initially pleaded not guilty – had insisted their clients were clear of any wrongdoing.

Mr Chesebro is now the third person charged in connection with the sweeping case to reach a plea deal with prosecutors. Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall was among a group of Trump loyalists charged with breaching voting machines in the state. He agreed to a plea deal on 29 September that includes a sentence of five years of probation, a $5,000 fine and 200 hours of community service.

The pleas mark major victories for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office now has cooperation from at least two central actors in the former president’s inner circle who can testify to his unlawful attempts to remain in office.

A trial date has not yet been determined for Mr Trump and his remaining co-defendants. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The Fulton County criminal cases are separate from a federal investigation and criminal charges against the former president for his alleged conspiracy to overturn election results.

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