Well, well, well… look at what’s transpired in Trump World. Two of former President Trump’s most ardent defenders have decided to switch teams and testify against him. Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro have agreed to take last-minute plea deals, turn state’s evidence, and testify against their former boss. Chesebro has agreed to testify in future cases if called to do so.
What a difference a few days before a trial can make.
After an unsuccessful attempt to keep Trump in the White House in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, Powell has moved herself out from the Georgia case by pleading guilty to six misdemeanor offenses and agreeing to testify against her co-defendants.
Her testimony is crucially important, and her plea is a significant breakthrough for prosecutors. She is the first cooperating witness who is part of a group that met with Trump to engineer plans to overturn the election. Additionally, she attended a meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, that degenerated into a screaming match.
Powell was one of Trump’s advisers who argued during subpoenaed testimony that plans to seize voting machines and other nefarious activities were legitimate. Her plea deal indicates her testimony at trial will be starkly different. Her plea could also possibly have a major impact on the federal election interference case brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
In contrast, Chesebro, one of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election fraud case, didn’t truly believe that the 2020 election was stolen, according to his attorney. “First of all, Mr. Chesebro never believed in ‘The Big Lie,’” attorney Scott Grubman said on MSNBC. “If you ask Mr. Chesebro today who won the 2020 presidential election, he would say, ‘Joe Biden.’”
Chesebro, following Powell, is the second of Trump’s former attorneys to accept a plea agreement in the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. He pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to a single felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents relating to his attempts to create a of swath of fake electoral college votes in Georgia. Chesebro will receive five years of probation and a $5,000 fine in exchange for agreeing to testify and providing documents and evidence. His trial was scheduled to start Oct. 23.
Right-wing media outlets have only briefly mentioned the two plea deals. Many have failed to cover the story at all, while other figures have engaged in all sorts of twisted mental gymnastics to try and place a positive spin on the news. One conservative publication offered the laughable assertion that Powell’s guilty plea meant that Fani Willis’s case was weak.
Although Powell and Chesebro may be lowlife opportunists, the truth is that both are skilled attorneys. Both know what prisons look like and what prison entails, especially for high-profile defendants such as themselves. Club Fed — a country club prison — was never an option for those two.
As a result, both have caught the religion of truth and reality, decided to adopt an “on the road to Damascus” strategy, cut tail, and run away from Trump, a person for whom loyalty is a one-way street. Don’t be surprised if we see more rats jumping off the sinking ship.
This is devastating news for Trump, his attorneys, and the entire defense team. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies. He is also an author and public speaker.