Kenneth Chesebro, attorney and architect of a fake elector scheme devised to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, pleaded guilty on Friday to one felony charge in Georgia and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Chesebro, 62, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false documents for helping defeated incumbent Republican Donald Trump attempt to overthrow the US Constitution, block the certification of Democrat Joe Biden as President and remain in the White House.
Instead of serving five years in prison for his crime, Chesebro is being sentenced to five years of probation, a $5,000 restitution fine and 100 hours of community service. He will get these things in exchange for testifying against his 17 co-defendants, including Trump, in the upcoming trial, and writing a letter of apology to the people of Georgia.
According to Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, as long as Chesebro follows through with the terms of the plea deal, his case will be sealed, and he will have no criminal record.
Chesebro was originally charged with racketeering, conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery and several other felony counts. The indictment against Trump and the other 18 co-conspirators was filed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on August 14.
The wide-ranging prosecution named a total of 41 criminal counts and cited 161 overt criminal acts committed by Trump, his chief of staff Mark Meadows and his attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Chesebro, along with DOJ Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
The August indictment spelled out Chesebro’s role in coordinating and executing a plan to have 16 Republicans sign a certificate declaring Trump had won the state and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors, even though the official count showed Trump had lost Georgia to Biden by 11,779 votes.
Chesebro’s plea agreement was announced one day after Trump attorney Sidney Powell made a similar deal. Like Chesebro, Powell received a slap on the wrist for agreeing to testify against the other conspirators. She was fined $6,000 and had all felony counts dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to six misdemeanors and agreeing to pay $2,700 in restitution to the state of Georgia. She also received 12 months of probation for the each of the six misdemeanors and has to write an apology to the citizens of Georgia.
In contrast to Powell, who was involved in hacking into voting machines in Georgia and stealing voter data from them, Chesebro is directly implicated in the scheme to overturn to the election, which led to the January 6 coup assault on the US Capitol. That attack included plans to forcibly block the certification of Biden by taking hostages and possibly murdering Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Chesebro worked with Trump lawyers and Republican leaders in six other swing states—Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—to present false slates of electors to Congress for certification.
The scheme included submission of lengthy memos calling on Republican leaders in those states to meet and cast electoral votes for Trump. The memos gave detailed instructions for how the process should be carried out and, as an email from Chesebro to Giuliani shows, the scheme included as a final measure the disruption and delay of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, at which the official electoral votes were to be certified.
Chesebro wrote that his strategies were “preferable to allowing the Electoral Count Act to operate by its terms.”
Chesebro’s attorney Scott Grubman said it is up to the prosecution as to whether his client will be called to testify against others in the case, but said he would be surprised if it happens.
According to a report by Associated Press, Grubman said he did not think Trump should be worried about any testimony Chesebro might offer. He also claimed Chesebro has been “inaccurately described as the architect of some plan to overturn democracy.”
A report in the Los Angeles Times said that, just like Powell’s, “Chesebro’s testimony is incredibly valuable. Chesebro worked with both Eastman and Giuliani, each of whom worked intimately with Trump.”
At the same time, Chesebro is also an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against Trump. In that case, Trump was charged with trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and block the peaceful transfer of power.
The federal indictment says that “co-conspirator 5”—which AP has identified as Chesebro through court and congressional records—“assisted in devising and attempting to implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”
With the exception of a guilty plea by bail bondsman Scott Graham Hall—who was sentenced to five years’ probation and agreed to testify in future cases—all the other defendants including Trump have pleaded not guilty. But the pleas of Powell and Chesebro, the first two defendants set for trial, which was to start on Monday, could lead to other dominoes falling.
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