A fascinating war of narratives has erupted in the Fourth Estate as political factions attempt to spin just how damaging the recent guilty pleas of co-defendants in the Georgia election case against Donald Trump really are. In newsrooms and social media threads across the country, those on the left are elated that some in the 45th president’s circle are being brought down one by one. And yet the jubilation and celebration may be somewhat premature.
Democrat prosecutor Fani Willis, district attorney of Fulton County (Atlanta), charged Trump and 18 others who “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome” of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Georgia.
We spoke with Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza Esq. to determine who’s winning the narrative war and what’s happening in the ongoing case.
Mark Angelides: Let’s start with the basics, Scott. Who has pleaded guilty to what crimes?
Scott D. Cosenza: There is one commonality to all the pleas, Mark, and the critical takeaway, too. None of them includes the top count in the case. The prosecution could not induce any defendant to admit they engaged in a conspiracy or racketeering with Trump. Scott Hall pled to conspiracy to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties, as did Sidney Powell. Kenneth Chesebro pled to filing a false document, while Jenna Ellis pled guilty to aiding and abetting false statements.
MA: Now, these all seem like minor charges, and I believe no jail time is involved here. Considering that we have heard for the last six months that Georgia DA Willis was going after the alleged hardened criminals for racketeering with RICO charges – a hefty charge – why are the left-leaning media outlets celebrating what appears to me at least to be a significant loss for the prosecution?
SDC: Yes, most of the charges pled to were misdemeanors, and none of these four defendants will serve a day behind bars. Ellis is required to do 100 hours of community service, as is Chesebro. Hall has to perform twice that, and Powell has no service obligation. They have to pay $5,000, too ($8,700 for Powell). Why rejoice if you oppose Trump? I don’t know. I suppose any port in a storm and a conviction on something is better than what was a real possibility – that these defendants would take their cases to trial and win.
MA: Can you explain why the first defendants – those who opted for an early trial – are getting slaps on the wrist? Isn’t that terrible optics for Willis?
SDC: The prosecution is motivated to give the early-bird plea takers the best deal – for the best in return. In Willis’ ideal world, that return would be pleading to engage in a conspiracy with Trump. These individual crimes don’t advance the ball against Trump, who is, we presume, the only real target of Willis’ prosecution. Take Ellis, for instance. Her tearful confession and apology were that she relied on another attorney’s assertions of fact. Hardly the kind of revelation that would be damaging for and useful against Trump.
Trump and His Big-League Crimes
MA: Let’s talk about the three defendants’ punishments and whether the level is typical for such crimes.
SDC: Not enough people are charged for this kind of thing to establish a “normal” or typical sentence, like theft or drunk driving, for instance.
MA: Many people are beginning to wonder if – seeing as all the big charges against these defendants couldn’t stick – Willis will have similar issues trying to convince a jury to find Trump guilty of the big-league accusations. And does she perhaps have an exit strategy that doesn’t involve taking this all the way to a jury verdict?
SDC: Call me a cynic, but I think for Willis, she won the day she brought the charges. From her perspective, a favorable verdict at trial would be most welcome but not needed. Many people will laud her for that alone for the rest of her life.
MA: All things considered, does it look better or worse for Trump based on the guilty pleas?
SDC: While being in any criminal jeopardy is a bad position, he has good reason to be optimistic based on these pleas.