Ken Chesebro has agreed to resolve the Georgia RICO case against him by pleading guilty to a felony in exchange for testimony.
Chesebro is one of the main architects of the fake electors plot, a scheme which tried to lay the legal groundwork for Trump to stay in power after having lost the 2020 election. Chesebro gave TPM an exclusive interview last year about his work. The plea brings to an end the first RICO trial out of the 19 defendants charged before the proceeding could even begin. Jury selection in the case had just begun on Friday morning when Chesebro entered his plea.
At the hearing, Chesebro said he had agreed to plead guilty to one felony count: conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Per the agreement, which a Georgia judge approved Friday morning, Chesebro will give a full proffer interview with state prosecutors, write an apology letter, provide records to prosecutors, and testify in future proceedings.
Per the deal, as described by the state prosecutor, Chesebro agreed to a sentence of five years probation, restitution of $5,000, and 100 hours of community service. Georgia’s first offender law means that his conviction will be expunged upon completion of probation.
Chesebro wrote a series of memos in late 2020 and early 2021 in which he argued that the Trump campaign should convene slates of electors in states which Trump lost to masquerade as real ones, sending certificates to Congress and the government. In Chesebro’s thinking, this would give state legislatures, the courts, and whoever Trump managed to bully into having a legal means to grant him the electoral votes to win.
The Harvard Law-educated attorney faced seven charges brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee signed off on the deal during a live-streamed hearing on Friday.
The plea is a stunning move from an attorney who took a bizarre route to Trumpworld. At Harvard Law, Chesebro was mentored by Constitutional Law Professor Larry Tribe in a group which included future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and journalist Jeffrey Toobin. Chesebro spent years after law school working with Tribe, known as a premier liberal litigator, in the elite world of appellate law.
Now, after contributing his legal theories to Trump’s effort to stay in power via a coup, Chesebro is a cooperating witness with a felony plea to boot.
Per the statement of offense as read out by a prosecutor at the hearing, Chesebro admitted to an expansive interpretation of what the fake electors plot was meant to achieve. By plotting to file false electoral college certificates and have GOP officials “hold themselves out” as real electors, Chesebro purportedly sought to disrupt and delay” the joint session of Congress on January 6. The prosecutor said it was part of a “multi-state conspiracy” to keep Trump in power after having lost.
Chesebro faced seven counts in the August indictment, all of which emerged from his involvement in the fake electors scheme. That included the overarching RICO charge, one count of conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, two counts of first degree conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements, and one count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
Trump, along with senior aides and attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mike Roman, and three fake electors were named as co-conspirators in the same false statements charge from Willis over the same conduct. Chesebro was arguably the architect of the fake electors scheme; now that he’s admitted it was a lie, it leaves the rest in legal peril.
The prospect of Chesebro cooperating with the prosecution offers Willis’ team a direct line into the inner circle of Trump’s legal effort to reverse his 2020 defeat. Chesebro was at the center of the action. Emails show him strategizing with attorney John Eastman over how maximize their chances at the Supreme Court, while he allegedly held numerous calls with Rudy Giuliani over the fake electors plot.
Chesebro himself, records show, played a key role in convening the fake elector slates themselves. He sent documentation across the country and helped corral local GOP officials into participating in the scheme.
The plea comes one day after ‘Kraken’ attorney and former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell took a deal, and on the same day as jury selection began in Chesebro’s trial. Chesebro is the first defendant to plead guilty to a felony as part of a deal with Georgia prosecutors. The other two defendants to have agreed to cooperate, Powell and bail bondsman Scott Hall, pleaded to a series of misdemeanors relating to the Coffee County voting machine tampering caper.
Chesebro matches the description of co-conspirator 5 in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment of Trump for the election plot in D.C.