The pro-Trump lawyer who helped devise the 2020 fake electors plot and already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in Georgia is now cooperating with Michigan and Wisconsin state investigators in hopes of avoiding more criminal charges, multiple sources told CNN.
In a dramatic turnaround from 2020 – when the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, was at the center of efforts by former President Donald Trump to subvert the Electoral College and overturn his defeat – Chesebro is now helping investigators in at least four states who are looking into the scheme.
Chesebro’s cooperation in Wisconsin is the first indication the state attorney general’s office has launched its own investigation into the false slates of pro-Trump electors. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has not publicly announced that an investigation is underway.
Chesebro also recently testified to a grand jury in Nevada, where indictments against six fake electors were announced Wednesday by state prosecutors. Additionally, Chesebro has been in contact with prosecutors in Arizona, where he plans to sit for an interview as part of that state’s ongoing investigation into fake electors.
CNN has previously identified Chesebro as an unindicted co-conspirator in special counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment against Trump, where the former president is charged with organizing the fake electors scheme “to disenfranchise millions of voters” and unlawfully remain in power. There is no indication Chesebro is cooperating in the federal probe, or that Smith has ruled out charges against him….
A federal appeals court on Friday largely upheld the gag order imposed two months ago on former President Donald J. Trump in the criminal case accusing him of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, but narrowed its terms to allow him to go after Jack Smith, the special counsel who has filed two indictments against him.
In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the court struck a cautious balance between protecting many of the people involved in the federal case in Washington from Mr. Trump’s relentless attacks and giving leeway to the former president to speak his mind while he is running for office. The ruling permits Mr. Trump to continue asserting that the prosecution is a political vendetta and to directly criticize Mr. Smith, the public face of the prosecution.
The three appellate judges — all of whom were appointed by Democratic presidents — wrote that they agreed “that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s public statements pose a significant and imminent threat to the fair and orderly adjudication of the ongoing criminal proceeding, warranting a speech-constraining protective order.”
But the order issued by the lower court, they said, “sweeps in more protected speech than is necessary.”
Specifically, we affirm the Order to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel from making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding. The Order is also affirmed to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel
from making or directing others to make public statements about—(1) counsel in the case other than the Special Counsel, (2) members of the court’s staff and counsel’s staffs, or (3) the family members of any counsel or staff member—if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with, counsel’s or staff’s work in this criminal case, or with the knowledge that such interference is highly likely to result. We vacate the Order to the extent it covers speech beyond those specified categories. See 28 U.S.C. § 2106. The administrative stay issued by this court on November 3, 2023, is hereby dissolved.
As should be clear, but to avoid any potential doubt, as affirmed in part and vacated in part, the Order also leaves open the categories of speech the district court explicitly stated were permissible under its initial ruling. See Order at 3. Mr. Trump is free to make statements criticizing the current administration, the Department of Justice, and the Special Counsel, as well as statements that this prosecution is politically motivated or that he is innocent of the charges against him. See id.
We do not allow such an order lightly. Mr. Trump is a former President and current candidate for the presidency, and there is a strong public interest in what he has to say. But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants. That is what the rule of law means.
It’s hard to overstate how rich a resource this Federal Judicial Center book is going to be. It is totally free online; a hard copy will be available for sale soon:
Robert Timothy Reagan, Margaret S. Williams, Marie Leary, Catherine R. Borden, Jessica L. Snowden, Patricia D. Breen, Jason A. Cantone
December 4, 2023
This collection of case studies illustrates how federal judges managed the time pressures of emergency election litigation in the years 2000 through 2020. The case studies are based on reviews of the court records and interviews with more than one hundred judges. The 513 case studies cover 717 emergency cases and an additional 151 related cases.
Has the United States done enough to minimize the risk of election subversion in 2024?
How might problems in Congress affect a fair tallying of electoral college votes on January 6, 2025?
How much danger of authoritarian rule does the U.S. face going forward?
On Season 5, Episode 4 of the ELB Podcast, we speak with Ian Bassin and Jess Marsden of Protect Democracy.
As recently as this summer, Trump had talked to right-leaning legal counselors about the feasibility of laying the groundwork for various post-election “audits” of mailed ballots — inspired partly by a shambolic Arizona audit following the 2020 election — in parts of the United States that have historical track records of so-called problems, two sources present for these casual discussions recall.
There are few people more central to Trump’s plans than Cleta Mitchell, the lawyer pushing the secretaries of state to pull out of ERIC at that D.C. meeting. As recently as September, Trump privately praised Mitchell’s work, saying she is going to be “very important” for the next election and beyond.
Once a member of the old-school Republican mainstream, Mitchell has become the most ardent of election deniers. Along with participating in Trump’s 2021 call with Raffensperger, she stunned a Fox News host on-air in November 2020 when she challenged the election results days after the network had already called the election for Biden.
That embrace of Trump dogma has given her staying power in the former president’s network of influential allies. But, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation, it irks some of Trump’s top attorneys working on his various criminal cases — many of which grew out of schemes to overturn the 2020 election. “Cleta is too militant, even for me,” one such lawyer says.
Mitchell sent a lengthy email in response to our reporting, which included insisting that ERIC “is a way to accomplish one of the left’s objectives, and to do so at taxpayer expense: register more people” to vote, “not removing bad registrations.” Mitchell offered up a number of her recurring criticisms of ERIC, Soros, and ERIC co-founder Becker, and noted: “I am proud of the work that we are doing and have been doing for the past three years and, yes, I think that what we are doing to try to restore the rule of law in elections is very important.” She also accused Rolling Stone of participating in “attacks” on “election integrity” activists, and also “me specifically.”…
CONFUSION HAS FOLLOWED in the states Mitchell has persuaded to pull out from ERIC. Former member states have found themselves suddenly deprived of accurate voter-registration data and have scrambled to try to re-create a version of ERIC through side agreements with their neighbors still in the network, says Schmidt, the Pennsylvania secretary. He’s seen some states frantically search to find the most rudimentary public voter-registration data. “All you need is $20 and the ability to use Excel to do the analysis they’re doing,” he says.
But absent the kind of very specific personal information that’s only available through ERIC, “the data is going to be garbage and potentially result in voters being disenfranchised,” according to Schmidt. “You cannot just use, for example, name and birthday to go about taking steps to remove a voter,” he says. “That will result in a terrific number of false matches.”…
You can watch here.