Fani Willis seeks emergency seal of evidence following witness video leaks

November 15, 2023

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee on Wednesday said he would draft an order protecting some evidence from pre-trial disclosure in the Georgia 2020 election interference case. 

McAfee’s decision followed hearing Wednesday afternoon after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested an emergency seal of evidence in the Georgia 2020 election subversion trial.

Willis filed her request on Tuesday, asking McAfee for an order protecting all discovery materials, following the leak of video of proffer interviews with former Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell, and then also former Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro and Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall.

Generally speaking, a proffer is an offer of proof or evidence in support of a legal argument.

The four witnesses were among the initial 19 co-defendants, including former President Trump, who were indicted by a grand jury on racketeering charges related to attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election, following a more-than two-year investigation by Willis.

Ellis struck a guilty plea deal with prosecutors in October, five days after Powell struck her own deal. Both agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for reduced charges, as did Chesebro and Hall.

In portions of the proffer video obtained by ABC News, Ellis recounted a moment during the 2020 White House Christmas party, on December 19—eleven days after the December 8 deadline for legally contesting the election results in state courts—during which she said Trump aide Dan Scavino told her Trump planned to flat-out refuse to leave the White House in January 2021. 

Referring to Trump as “the boss,” Ellis said, “[Scavino] said, ‘The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.’ And I said to him, ‘Well, it doesn’t quite work that way, you realize,’ and he said, ‘We don’t care.'”

In her proffer video, Powell described Trump’s reaction to his aides’ claims that he’d lost the election, saying, “Well, they would say that, and then they’d walk out, and he’d go, ‘See? This is what I deal with all day.'” Powell waved her hands in mock frustration while repeating Trump’s alleged statement.

Additionally, video of Chesebro’s and Hall’s proffer interviews leaked.

Chesebro said that the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection—on the day Congress would certify now-President Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory—was the “worst possible thing that could happen, because we wouldn’t get the debate [about voting fraud in Congress] that we had tried to set up.”

Chesebro was the author of the fake electors scheme to try to replace legal Biden electors with “alternate” Trump electors. 

In Hall’s video, he revealed his role in alleged harassment of Georgia poll worker Ruby Freeman, who was falsely accused of voting fraud and in August, along with her daughter and fellow poll worker Shaye Moss, won a defamation lawsuit against another former Trump attorney and co-defendant Rudy Guliani, who admitted that he lied about their actions on Election Day 2020.

In Tuesday’s motion ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Fulton County prosecutors stated that the release of the proffer videos “is clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case” by exposing them to “harassment and threats prior to trial.”

“Going forward,” prosecutors wrote, “the State will not produce copies of confidential video recordings of proffers to any defendant to prevent further public disclosure. Instead defendants must come to the District Attorney’s Office to view confidential video recordings of proffers. They may take notes, but they will be prohibited from creating any recordings or reproductions.”

PHOTO: Fulton County Superior Court

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