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Kenneth Chesebro: Pro-Trump attorney who helped craft fake elector plot pleads guilty in Georgia election subversion case

Originally Published: 20 OCT 23 10:38 ET
Updated: 20 OCT 23 12:30 ET

(CNN) — Kenneth Chesebro, a Donald Trump-aligned attorney who helped craft the 2020 fake elector plot, is pleading guilty in the Georgia election subversion case.

The plea deal is another major victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who charged Trump and 18 others in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Thursday, former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell also pleaded guilty.

Chesebro is pleading guilty to one felony – conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Fulton County prosecutors are recommending that Chesebro serve 5 years of probation and pay $5,000 in restitution. He agreed to testify at any future trials in the sprawling election subversion case and write an apology letter.

The plea came shortly after jury selection began Friday. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had met with the pool of prospective jurors Friday and told them the trial could last four to five months.

A source familiar with the discussions said the likelihood of Chesebro taking a deal increased after his co-defendant Sidney Powell made a surprise turn and pleaded guilty herself on Thursday, leaving Chesebro as the sole defendant whose trial was scheduled to begin Friday.

An attorney who worked to undermine the results of the 2020 election, Chesebro helped develop the Trump’s campaign’s plot to put forward unauthorized slates of GOP electors in Georgia and six other states. (In previous court filings, Chesebro’s lawyers have denied that he devised the plan.)

Chesebro and other Trump allies hoped then-Vice President Mike Pence would use the GOP electors to justify delaying Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory – or even throw out Biden’s lawful electors and recognize the fake GOP slates instead on January 6, 2021.

Chesebro was originally charged with seven crimes, including a violation of Georgia’s RICO act, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer.

Powell, a former Trump campaign attorney, pleaded guilty on Thursday in the sprawling racketeering case. Georgia-based bail bondsman Scott Hall pleaded guilty in late September.

As part of the plea deal struck between prosecutors and Powell’s attorneys, she admitted her role in the January 2021 breach of election systems in rural Coffee County, Georgia. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of six years of probation, as well as $9,000 in restitution. Powell will also be required to write an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia.

Powell pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors – six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties – a significant reduction from the seven felonies she initially faced.

Ahead of the trial, Chesebro and Powell lost several bids to get the case thrown out, including earlier this week. In a spate of pretrial rulings, McAfee rejected their arguments that Fulton County prosecutors misapplied Georgia’s RICO law and that the indictment failed to establish key elements of the crimes that have been charged.

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