Attorney Jenna Ellis’ leaked testimony made some legal experts think former President Donald Trump’s defense in his Georgia 2020 election case would take a hit, but not everyone who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation was convinced it would have any impact.
Ellis stated during her testimony that Trump advisor Dan Scavino told her “the boss” was not going to leave the White House “under any circumstances,” ABC News reported Monday; videos of co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Scott Hall, the other defendants who took plea deals, were also obtained by The Washington Post on Monday. Legal experts differed on how Ellis’ testimony may factor in to the case and affect Trump’s defense.
Emory University School of Law professor Jonathan Nash told the DCNF he doesn’t think Ellis’ testimony is good for Trump’s defense, noting that even if her statements are inadmissible in court, they give prosecutors a lead to follow.
“[N]ow that prosecutors know that statements like this were being made, they could try to call as witnesses the people who made such statements,” he said.
But, he noted, Ellis’ statement may be admissible if Scavino is considered a co-conspirator, even though he was not indicted. The Georgia rules of evidence state that a “statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy” is not hearsay.
“To be sure, it would be far worse if a statement like this were attributed directly to former President Trump,” he said. “Even as it stands, though, this isn’t good news for the defense.”
EXCLUSIVE: ABC News has obtained video from Georgia prosecutors’ interview with ex-Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, in which Ellis tells them she was personally informed by a top Trump adviser that Trump was “not going to leave” the White House — despite losing the 2020 election.… pic.twitter.com/J9c4bm9cbZ
— ABC News (@ABC) November 13, 2023
Former Department of Defense special counsel Ryan Goodman similarly told CNN that her testimony would be “golden evidence for prosecutors both in Georgia and in DC.”
However, Georgia-based criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Philip Holloway told the DCNF Ellis’ testimony would likely not have much effect. If anything, Holloway said it could help Trump since Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis would have to prove he “knew he lost the election.”
“If anything, Ellis’ statements to prosecutors show that Trump actually believed he was the winner of the election,” he said. “In fact, I’ll be surprised if Ms. Ellis is even called as a prosecution witness if this is how she would testify.”
During a hearing Wednesday, Jonathan Miller, an attorney for co-defendant Misty Hampton, admitted to leaking videos to one media outlet and said he thought the public had “a right to know.”
Trump, along with 19 co-defendants, was indicted in Willis’ racketeering case Aug. 14 for alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia and charged with violating Georgia’s “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” (RICO) Act.
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