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Fulton County DA is discussing plea deals with at least 5 more Trump co-defendants

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks at a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

(CNN) – Fulton County prosecutors have discussed potential plea deals with at least six additional co-defendants charged alongside Donald Trump for attempting to subvert the 2020 presidential election, multiple sources tell CNN.

The strategy by District Attorney Fani Willis’ office is clear: get as many co-defendants as possible to flip on the former president, leaving Trump and perhaps a few close allies on the hot seat.



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Pro-Trump lawyer Robert Cheeley is among those who have been offered a plea deal in the Georgia case but, according to his lawyer, turned it down.

“To say that we are currently in discussions with the DA’s office would be an inaccurate representation of what is going on. They made us an offer some time ago and we declined it,” Cheeley’s attorney Richard Rice said.

Former Coffee County, Georgia, elections supervisor Misty Hampton and former Trump campaign official Mike Roman have also been in contact with the DA’s office about a possible deal, multiple sources said.

CNN has confirmed that three other defendants have also discussed a potential plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors but agreed not to name them after sources expressed concerns about speaking about the case at this phase.

A source with knowledge of the Fulton County DA’s strategy tells CNN that it would be open to discussing plea deals with anyone, but there is little room for compromise when it comes to the charges against Trump.

To be clear, there is no indication that prosecutors or Trump’s legal team are interested in discussing a plea deal. That’s largely because any hypothetical proposal would be completely on Willis’ terms and would require him to plead guilty to all the charges he faces, effectively taking the prospect of meaningful negotiations off the table, the source with knowledge of the DA’s strategy told CNN. Trump has pleaded not guilty, denied any wrongdoing and continues to insist he won the election.

So far, four of the 19 defendants in the Fulton County case, including three attorneys directly involved in Trump’s bid to overturn the election results in Georgia, have already accepted a deal – in some cases pleading guilty to felony charges in exchange for a more lenient sentencing recommendation.

A consistent theme of those deals has been requiring defendants to write a letter of apology to the citizens of Georgia for their role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results but the content of those letters have demonstrated varying levels of remorse.

Former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis presented her tearful apology during Tuesday’s plea hearing, reading her letter disavowing Trump’s efforts to upend the 2020 election results out loud in open court.



01:21 – Source: CNN

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That stands in stark contrast to the written apology submitted by former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell, whose letter only consisted of a single sentence, said a source who has seen the document, which has not been publicly released.

To date, prosecutors have not extended a plea deal to Rudy Giuliani, a key co-defendant in the case and one of Trump’s most outspoken attorneys in 2020, according to the first source with knowledge of the prosecution strategy. At this stage, prosecutors are unlikely to do so. Giuliani has long been considered as a top tier of Trump co-defendants due to his alleged role in orchestrating the sprawling conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and beyond.

Giuliani recently lost two his Georgia-based lawyers. CNN has reached out to a New York attorney who is still representing him.

As of now, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has also not been offered a plea deal in the Georgia case, a separate source with knowledge of his specific case in Georgia told CNN.

Meadows testified to the grand jury and spoke to investigators in the federal investigation by special counsel Jack Smith. He is also still trying to move his state charges in Georgia to federal court with the hope it may improve his chances in the case.

John Eastman, who is also considered one of Trump’s most high-profile co-defendants, has not been offered a plea deal either, his lawyer told CNN. Eastman urged Georgia state lawmakers to appoint a group of alternate GOP electors to replace the legitimate slate of Democratic electors.

Willis’ strategy centers around focusing on co-defendants listed at the top of the indictment and securing cooperation from those considered less important in the broader case, as she did in a 2014 RICO case when she successfully convicted significant participants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Robert James, former district attorney in Georgia’s Dekalb County who has followed the 2020 election racketeering case closely, says this may be the beginning of a run of plea deals in Fulton County, as prosecutors aim to have defendants on board “as witnesses as opposed to adversaries.”

“It makes the prosecutors case stronger because you have witnesses and direct evidence, but it also gives co-defendants certainty and a certain level of safety knowing that they aren’t going to prison,” James said.

One source familiar with the strategy said it can be summed up by an adage used by prosecutors in Fulton County RICO cases:

“The first to squeal gets the deal.”

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Paula Reid and Evan Perez contributed to this report.


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