“Gobsmacked” – Trump’s ex-lawyers plea deals could destroy the former president’s defense

Plea deals by former Trump allies in Georgia, alongside Meadows’ immunity deal, might have hurt the ex-president’s defense, a new filing by Special Counsel Jack Smith suggested.

Special Counsel’s motion

"I shouldn't have a protective order placed on me because it would impinge upon my right to FREE SPEECH," the former president said in a post on his Truth Social platform. (Photo by SAUL LOEB and Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP)
Illustration. Image credit: SAUL LOEB, Eva Marie UZCATEGUI

Special Counsel Smith responded to Trump’s plans to mount an “advice of counsel” defense. This defense involves attorney-client privilege, but Smith’s motion stated that if Trump filed the defense, “there is good reason to question its viability, especially because in the time since the Government filed its motion, three charged co-defendant attorneys pleaded guilty to committing crimes in connection with the 2020 election.”

The pleas highlight the complications

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Illustration. Image credit SHANNON STAPLETON / POOL / AFP

“At the very least, those guilty pleas highlight the complications that may arise if the defendant should assert an advice-of-counsel defense and underscore the need to resolve all issues well before the start of the trial. If disclosure is delayed, it may result in disruption to the trial schedule,” the motion by Smith added.

Smith’s pushing for Trump to reveal his strategy

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In a previous filing, Smith wrote to Judge Chutkan, “The defendant has provided public notice that he intends to rely on an advice-of-counsel defense at trial.”

The explanation

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Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

The filing continued, “When a defendant invokes such a defense in court, he waives attorney-client privilege for all communications concerning that defense, and the Government is entitled to additional discovery and may conduct further investigation, both of which may require further litigation and briefing.”

Chesebro, Powell, and Ellis flipped

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Illustration. Image credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

Chesebro and Powell struck plea deals with prosecutors. They agreed to testify against their now-former co-defendants, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others. Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis followed. Scott Hall, another co-defendant, pled guilty in September.

Delays and defense

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Illustration. Image credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney, told Newsweek: “The recent exchange of filings between the Special Counsel’s office and Trump’s defense team arguing about notice and discovery requirements of any advice of counsel defense is as much about the delay as it is about the actual defense.”

Connecting Georgia and D.C. cases

TOPSHOT - Former US President Donald Trump gestures during a break at court as he testifies during a fraud trial in New York City on October 25, 2023. The judge presiding over Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York fined the former US president $10,000 on October 25, 2023 for violating an order not to criticize court staff. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
Illustration. Image credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

“It’s becoming clear that the Trump lawyers’ conduct will be central in both the Georgia state RICO case and the Special Counsel’s federal election interference case. Are the lawyers the masterminds and Trump merely the dupe, or are they all in the plot together?” McAuliffe told Newsweek.

Trump does what Trump wants to do

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Illustration. image credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP

“It’s a difficult defense for Trump to assert that he was merely following his lawyers’ Counsel as that doesn’t match the overwhelming and public evidence that Trump does what Trump wants to do,” McAuliffe said to Newsweek.

Mark Meadows was granted immunity by Jack Smith’s office

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Illustration. Image credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

Ex-Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gained immunity after numerous conversations with Jack Smith and his team. Meadows, a good friend of Trump, reportedly flipped, so Trump blasted him on Truth Social.

Trump on Meadows now

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“Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, adding, “I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?”

All eyes on the former Chief of Staff

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Illustration. Image credit: ROBYN BECK / AFP

ABC News reported Meadows told Smith and his team that “he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud coming to them were baseless, a striking break from Trump’s prolific rhetoric regarding the election.”

Smith is asking for a gag order

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Following his post on Meadows, Smith urges Judge Chutkun to reimpose the partial gag order on Trump in his federal election interference case, arguing that the former president continues to try to threaten witnesses on social media and in his public speeches.

Light sentences

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Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

Bjorn Brunvand, whose client Robert Palmer was sentenced by Judge Tanya Chutkan to 63 months in prison for assaulting officers at the U.S. Capitol, told Politico about the plea deals, “Gobsmacked is certainly an appropriate description considering the sentences that have been imposed against others who believed the lies spread by Donald Trump, Sidney Powell, and others.”

More pleas are coming 

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Six more co-defendants are reportedly talking about plea deals. “This has been Willis’ strategy the whole time,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Salon. “She never wanted to try 19 defendants. She wanted 18 guilty pleas and one trial against Donald Trump.”

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