Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro is shown in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Atlanta, Aug. 23, 2023.
Source: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office
Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro agreed to plead guilty Friday to a felony charge in the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump.
The deal with Chesebro, who was accused of pursuing ways to challenge Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, came one day after Sidney Powell, another one-time key advisor to the former president, struck her own plea deal with prosecutors.
Chesebro, like Powell, will be required to testify truthfully at the trials of other co-defendants in the case, including Trump, if he is asked to do so.
Chesebro’s abrupt flip signals rising pressure on the defendants to cooperate with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ team — putting more heat on the former president.
Chesebro had reportedly turned down a plea offer as recently as last month, NBC News and other outlets reported Thursday. He pleaded guilty shortly after jury proceedings had in his trial had begun.
His turnabout Friday makes him the third of 19 co-defendants to plead guilty in Willis’ case, which alleges a sweeping conspiracy by Trump and others to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia’s 2020 election.
Defense attorney Scott Grubman said after the court adjourned that the plea deal allows Chesebro to go home to his family and avoid the threat of serious jail time. Grubman also said it was inaccurate to describe Chesebro as the architect of a plan to subvert democracy.
Asked if Trump should be worried by the development in the case, Grubman said, “I don’t think so.”
Chesebro was initially charged with seven counts related to efforts to advance alternate electors who would vote for Trump in swing states where he lost to President Joe Biden, among them Georgia.
Willis’ indictment alleges Chesebro penned numerous memos after the November 2020 election, providing instructions and documents on how those pro-Trump “electors” could meet to cast votes in those key states.
Chesebro also allegedly sent emails with strategies for “disrupting and delaying” Congress from counting the Electoral College votes confirming Biden’s victory during a joint session as the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The charges against Chesebro included violating Georgia’s racketeering act, as well as conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit false statements and documents.
The deal negotiated with prosecutors dropped all of those charges except one count of conspiracy to file false documents.
Chesebro will receive five years’ probation and must pay $5,000 in restitution to Georgia as part of the plea agreement. He must also complete 100 hours of community service and submit an apology letter to the court.
Before they pleaded guilty, both Chesebro and Powell were set to become the first co-defendants in the case to face trial.
Judge Scott McAfee had granted Powell and Chesebro their demands for speedy trials, though he denied their requests to keep those trials separated from each other.
A trial date has not yet been set for Trump, who faces 13 criminal counts in Willis’ case, and the other co-defendants who have pleaded not guilty.
Powell a pro-Trump attorney who spread false voter fraud conspiracies about the 2020 election and filed failed lawsuits challenging the results, was accused by Willis of unlawfully breaching election equipment in Coffee County, Georgia.
She pleaded guilty Thursday to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties.
Another co-defendants, bail bondsman Scott Hall, pleaded guilty in September to five misdemeanor conspiracy charges.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.