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Leaked confidential videos of former Trump lawyers could shake up the Georgia election interference case. From NPR, this is Trump's trials. I'm Scott Detrow.


This is a persecution.


We're filming.


Violations of our national security laws. We need one more indictment.


Criminal conspiracy.


To close out this election.


He actually just.


Stormed out of the quarter.




Until proven guilty in a court of law.


Once a week, we talk through the latest developments in the legal trials of former President Donald Trump. We have updates on the New York Civil Trial and the January sixth federal election interference case that we'll get to in a moment. But this week, the main focus is that Georgia election interference case. Remember, this is the racketeering, a Riko case against Trump, and many other co-defendants. Four of those co-defendants have taken plea deals already. And now with these leaked videos, we've learned more about the conversations inside the White House between election day and inauguration day. A lot to discuss here. And as always, I am joined by my colleague and friend, senior political editor and correspondent, Dominico Montenar. Hey, Dominico. Hey, Scott. All right, the 60 seconds or less recap of this week. What have you.


Got for me? I set the Timer here.


I got it. Three, two, one, go.


The big thing is it has to be this moment. He said the.


Boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power. I said to him, Well, it doesn't quite work that way, you realize? He said, We don't care.


That's Jenna Ellis, one of Trump's former lawyers, recounting a conversation she had with then-senior White House official, Dan Scavino. As part of a plea deal, she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Her statement, part of which we just heard, appears it could really damage Trump, but this is something that can ultimately hurt the prosecution. Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, said that she was not happy that this was released, and in response, she filed for a protective order, which was granted.


It's about 50 seconds, Dominica. You're such a pro. Got there. A lot to get into here will also be joined by lawyer and law professor, Melissa Murray. Stick around. We'll be right back.


Hey, it's Sarah Gonzales from NPR's Planet Money Podcast. I'm one of thousands of NPR network voices coming to you from over 200 local newsrooms across the country. We bring people closer together through free, independent journalism about economics, music, politics, culture, and so much more. Learn more at npr. Org/network.


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Once again joined by Melissa Murray. She's a lawyer and law professor at NYU and the co-author of the upcoming book, The Trump Indictments. Thanks for being.


Here, Melissa. Hi. Thanks so much for having me.


The most interesting developments this week happened in Georgia, where Trump, as a reminder, and several others are facing multiple charges tied to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Four of those have taken plea deals already, and those plea deals require them to cooperate with the prosecution. That's where the news was. As part of that cooperation, the defendants sat down for lengthy interviews with prosecutors to tell them what they know. This week, several of those interviews, including conversations with key Trump lawyers, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis were leaked to ABC News. Dominica, what were the main headlines from these tapes?


Well, seeing Jenna Ellis flip on Trump was really notable and saying that she'd heard from one of Trump's aides, Dan Scavino, that the boss isn't going to leave office. Really a fascinating thing to show Trump's state of mind and how much he really wanted to stay in power.


But, Melissa, Trump's legal team was pretty quick to respond to that saying, Who cares what this aide said, in a sense, because for all the other things that happened, Trump did leave office. He didn't hold himself up in the White House. He didn't try to remain President.


No, that's right. And you can imagine what the response to this would be at trial. One, to discredit Jenna Ellis as someone who has a real incentive to play nice with the prosecution, but also someone who may not actually be that truthful herself. She was formerly a co-defendant. They will also, I think, note that this was a statement that Jenna Ellis heard from someone else, Dan Scavino. She did not hear this from Trump himself. It doesn't actually go to provide clear evidence of Trump's own mindset with regard to staying in power or leaving peacefully. One thing I will note on here, it wasn't just Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis whose videos were leaked. There was also a very interesting video leaked of Kenneth Chesbro's pro-fer to the prosecution, where he talked about his role in advancing this plot to put forth fake electors in battleground states like Georgia and also Arizona. And again, I think that actually does support the indictments claim that this was a far-reaching and very intricate conspiracy to overturn the election that did not just focus on Georgia, but in these other battleground states that had been called for Joe Biden by very narrow margins.


In Dominica, we learned where some of these videos came from, and it was a flashback to many things that have happened over the Trump years of several different people with competing motives trying to work the press in addition to the political system and the.


Legal system. Now, as I was going to say, sometimes these things come from places that people don't necessarily expect. You would think that evidence that comes forward, a video that seems to make it look bad for Trump, would come from the prosecution, right? Well, not exactly in this case, because a lawyer for one of the co-defendants in this case, the coffee county election supervisor, Misty Hampton, admitted that he was the one who actually leaked this video.


Did that surprise you, Melissa? What did you think about that?


Nothing surprises me anymore about what's going on with these 19 co-defendants.


We should figure out how to say, Nothing surprises me anymore, in Latin, and that can be the motto.


Of the trumpet. Yeah, because we've said it too many times in English.


Or just pressed play for the many times who said that. But, Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, responded here very unhappy, asked for a protective order in the case in response to this leak. What would that mean?


Well, the fact that there has been a request for a protective order and Judge McAfee is going to respond to this, I think Fani Willis is worried that the leaks of these proffers will be opportunities for witness tampering, for intimidation of witnesses. And obviously, those are things that should be avoided. We've already seen Jenna Ellis has been under fire from Trump's base for her faithlessness, and again, for turning on her former boss. So I think those are very real concerns, and keeping this under wraps would help to mitigate that.


And it certainly could be a problem for Trump's team if this is granted, because it would make it harder for his team to prep. And I think that's going to be something that the judge actually has to take into consideration.


That's exactly right.


Before we shift to some of the other trials, anything else of all of this that jumped out to either of you? We find ourselves in this familiar situation of stuff playing out in the press at Dominico. I'm also reminded of a lot of the Trump legal, the Trump investigative stuff that happened when he was on office where you see this really splashy headline. It seems like there's a shocking development and you read through it and you think like, Well, it's interesting, but maybe it's not quite what it seemed. It's a hearsay conversation with an aide who has a suspect track record in.


Any words. Well, I think that there's a huge difference between an actual court and the court of public opinion and how these things can be framed and looked. But the thing that was interesting to me is, again, you have Jenna Ellis, who was a lawyer who was close to Trump, who was involved in this process, who's flipped. And that's part of what you want to do in a Riko case is make your way up the pyramid. And it really got personal and nasty when it comes to the Trump loyalists and Jenna Ellis, because Laura Loomer, who's close to Trump, failed Florida congressional candidate, conspiracy theorist, called Jenna Ellis a waste of space and a fake Christian. Ellis responded back saying, Oh, no mention of Trump Jr. 'S divorce. This got really.


Really personal. It did devolve very quickly. I will say, for my part, the most interesting and honestly, just really alarming confession in this proper was when Sidley Powell admitted that she didn't really know a lot about election law. That actually was hilarious to me. Girl, what? You've been talking about the election and election fraud for months. You gave a whole press conference about this, and then come to find out you actually don't know anything about.


Election law. It is amazing to me how the threat of jail time breaks the hypnosis and seems like a shot of truth serum for a.


Lot of people. I mean, this is also the legal team, just to say when you point that out, that as far as we can tell, possibly mixed up the Four Seasons Hotel with Four Seasons Total Landscaping. A elite legal.


Strike force, exactly.


You mentioned Donald Trump Jr, I'm just going to mention that we last week talked about how he, his brother, and former President Trump himself all testified in that civil case. Trump Jr. Was on the stand in that civil case again this week, this time testifying for the defense and not surprisingly, turning it into a Trump infomercial talking about all the amazing resorts, all the amazing commodities, what an amazing business figure his father is. Now I'm going to go down to Washington and we're going to talk a little bit about the federal January sixth case. Our national justice correspondent, Kerry Johnson, has been reporting on the case this week and the fact that Trump's legal team had requested to strike references to the violence at the Capitol on January sixth. But the judge in that case, Tanya Chuckin, rejected that motion late last night. Melissa, this is interesting here because Jack Smith, the special counsel, made a choice not to file insurrection or incitement charges tied to the violence of that day, right? That's right. But regardless, what happened on January sixth is a key part of his case.


No, I think that's right. Jack Smith had a lot of different options for charging Donald Trump. The January sixth Committee, you'll remember, had recommended that Trump be charged with insurrection and inciting the violence at the Capitol. But Smith declined to do that. I think that was a very smart choice to keep the indictment narrow and very lean. But interestingly, it did charge Donald Trump with conspiracy to obstruct these official proceedings, the counting of the electoral votes. And, notably, many of the January sixth rioters have also been charged with that crime. I think a big part of why there are mentions of the insurrection at the Capitol and why the prosecution is at great pains to keep those mentions available for trial is because they want to make the connection that we have other defendants who have been successfully prosecuted for this crime, the January sixth rioters, and this individual is also someone who should also be successfully prosecuted on this charge, this conspiracy to obstruct official proceeding. I think that's a big reason why I also think it's why the Trump team does not want it in. It's highly prejudicial to associate Donald Trump with the violence that so many Americans saw play out on their television screens on January sixth.


They don't want any part of it, but unfortunately, it seems like it's going to be a very big.


Part of it. And politically, really interesting that the Trump team is pushing to get the DC proceedings on camera because clearly Trump wants to be able to make a political case to people going forward. We also have a whole bunch of media organizations join in because, of course, they want to put that on television. A little bit different incentive for that. But clearly, we're seeing Trump playing this two-sided thing where he has to talk in court and try to win in court, but also try to win in public opinion.


He did waive his initial court appearance in Georgia, where court hearings are televised. I thought that was surprising when that happened this summer, but it seems like a different course here saying, No, we want all of this on television.


Yeah, and I mean, the timing of all of this, when are all of these cases going to actually be? And we saw in Georgia, August fifth is one place where they're trying to ask for that time to be, which would be right in the middle of a campaign. And we talk about the collision between politics and the legal calendar. The Trump team was saying this is completely politically motivated because it's right smack in the middle of when the general election would be happening. Right now, Trump's got a huge cushion in this primary, so he can deal with these legal obstacles very different when you're talking about how swing voters might view this in a general election.


I want to wrap this up with a big-picture question for both of you. Melissa, I'll start with you. What from this week is going to have an impact going forward here?


What from this week will have an impact going forward? Well, I think we can't discount the propers in the Georgia case. We're getting a sense of why this multi-defendant Riko case was such a strategic choice for Fani Willow is like, we are seeing people plead up, and they're actually offering information that really does go to the heart of the crimes charged in the Georgia indictment. I think as we get closer and closer to a trial date in Georgia, I think there will be more of this, perhaps even more guilty pleas that are entered. But what we saw in Washington, DC with Judge Chuckkin, I think that's also really relevant. Whether you like it or not, the events of January sixth, 2021 are going to loom large across all of these cases. Even the Mar-a-Lago Documents case, the idea of a President who doesn't want to leave office is very consistent with the idea of a President who does not believe that he is obliged to turn over official records to the National Archives. So all of this goes to a pattern of thinking that you were above the law, thinking that you were somehow exceptional and extraordinary.


That's a really good point. That makes sense when you say it that way, but I hadn't thought about them tied together that way before. Domenica, what about you? What, from what we talked about or what we saw this week is going to matter down the line?


Well, I do think seeing more and more people potentially flip and move up that ladder, I think, is really important when it comes to the pressure that's only building in this case. We're seeing political pressure that's continuing to build. Obviously, the legal pressure as the trial dates start to come closer and closer and more and more attention is going to be paid not just to the presidential election, but then in turn, also these trials. It's been fascinating then politically to watch the Republicans who are trying to take on Trump really have fingers in the ears on this and not want to push forward in criticizing Trump. Even the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, this week pushing to release January 6 tapes when everyone saw what happened on television. But again, this is another effort by Republicans to insulate Trump.


That was NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Dominico Montenaro, as well as NYU Law Professor, Melissa Murray. Thanks to both of you. You're welcome. Thank you. We will be back next week with another episode of Trump's Trials. Be sure to follow more of NPR's political coverage from Dominico and the rest of the NPR Politics team and daily episodes of the NPR Politics Podcast. Thanks, as always, to our supporters who hear this show sponsor-free. If that's not you, it could be. Sign up at plus. Npr. Org or subscribe on our show page at Apple Podcast. The show is produced by Tyler Bartlin and Mia Vencat and edited by Adam Rainey and Steve Drummond. Our technical director is KwaZe Lee. Our executive producers are Beth Donovan and Sammy Yenigan. Eric Maripody is NPR's Vice President of news programming. I'm Scott Detro. Thanks for listening to Trump's trials from NPR.


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