Leaked videos. An apparent confession, later represented as a “typo.” Demands for a protective order.
Media reports detailing confidential interviews with four defendants who were divulging their knowledge to state prosecutors in the Georgia racketeering case involving former President Trump set off a bizarre “whodunnit”-style hearing in state court Wednesday afternoon.
It culminated with a confession by one defendant’s lawyer and a Georgia judge weighing whether to issue a protective order placing restrictions on how defendants can disseminate materials they receive in discovery.
“In being transparent with the court and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happened — and so that I can go to sleep well tonight — Judge, I did release those videos to one outlet,” said Jonathan Miller, an attorney for defendant Misty Hampton. “And in all candor, I need the court to know that.”
Miller’s admission capped a whirlwind series of developments that began Monday, when footage surfaced of proffer sessions the four defendants who pleaded guilty — ex-Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, plus former Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall — participated in as part of their deals with state prosecutors.
Their confessions, published first by ABC News and the Washington Post, bolster the narrative laid out in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s 98-page indictment that Trump led the charge on efforts to subvert Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results in his favor.
Within hours of the footage surfacing, prosecutors and defense attorneys started trading blame. It began with an email chain from Steve Sadow, Trump’s attorney, demanding answers.
“The proffers did not come from Jennifer or me, or anyone connected to my defense team,” Sadow wrote. “Please state for the record whether the prosecution or anyone connected to the prosecution team had any hand in the disclosure of the proffers to the media.”
Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade responded Tuesday morning, “The State had nothing to do with leaking any information to the media!”
Minutes later, Todd Harding, an attorney representing defendant Harrison Floyd, seemed to confess, writing “It was Harrison Floyd’s team.”
“Sorry, it was a typo,” he followed up minutes later. “We did not communicate with the media.”
But the damage was already done, with prosecutors soon afterwards filing an emergency request for a protective order, which would place restrictions on how the defendants can use materials they receive in discovery. They attached the email chain as part of their motion.
Miller’s confession at Wednesday’s hearing came after Floyd’s lawyers filed additional documents insisting they did not leak the proffers and that the individual who did would come forward.
“It is my understanding that today the individual that disseminated the proffer videos will inform the Court of that fact. … All of this colossal time waste is the direct result of the State’s intentional maneuver to use the typographical error in an email in a motion that the State knows has zero support,” Floyd’s lawyer wrote in court documents filed earlier Wednesday.
“The State knows that Mr. Floyd and his team were not the cause of any problem and is wasting valuable resources and it will be shown today.”
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is now weighing prosecutors’ request to impose a protective order on all of the defendants in response to the leak. With no protective order currently in place, Miller’s disclosure wasn’t illegal.
Although most defendants were in agreement about issuing a limited protective order, Miller argued against one at the hearing. He suggested that Hampton believes transparency in the 19-defendant racketeering case — “one of the biggest cases that the country has had” — is vital. Hampton was the election supervisor of Coffee County, where an election equipment breach core to the case allegedly occurred.
The leaked videos showed clips from the defendants’ proffers with state lawyers, where they shared information that may be helpful for the state’s case.
Ellis told prosecutors that a conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino made apparent Trump’s intent to remain in power no matter how their post-election legal efforts panned out.
“The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances,” Scavino said, according to Ellis. “We are just going to stay in power.”
Chesebro testified in his interview with the state that he briefed Trump about a Nov. 18, 2020, memo to his campaign calling Jan. 6, 2021, “the real deadline” for finalizing the electoral votes in Arizona, another state Trump lost that was involved in a plot to produce a different slate of pro-Trump electors to be certified in key swing states.
And Powell told prosecutors that she may have apologized to the former president for the legal efforts’ failure, noting that Trump frequently contacted her because he “always wanted to know where things were in terms of finding fraud that would change the results of the election,” according to the Post.
As part of their plea deals, the four defendants also agreed to “testify truthfully” in future proceedings and turn over any documents requested by the district attorney’s office.
Updated at 3:53 p.m. ET