News Roundup: Accountability in Georgia for Election Lies

Four defendants charged alongside Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case have now pleaded guilty — a major breakthrough in holding accountable those involved in the plot to overturn the 2020 election. 

The most recent was lawyer Jenna Ellis, who on Tuesday agreed to a plea deal in the election interference case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Ellis admitted to a felony charge of having aided and abetted false statements about fraud in the 2020 election.

  • Last week, Kenneth Chesebro — another Trump-aligned lawyer who was an architect of the plan to use fake slates of electors to subvert the will of the voters in Georgia and six other states — pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge. 
  • Chesebro’s plea came one day after that of Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 19 to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. 
  • Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, also accepted a plea deal back in September.

As part of their plea deals, all four agreed to provide testimony against other defendants. Such deals are not uncommon for racketeering and conspiracy cases like the Georgia one, and they could have major implications for Trump and the other 14 indicted co-defendants — and for other election-subversion cases. 

  • Powell and Chesebro are both thought to be unnamed co-conspirators in the Justice Department’s federal indictment of Trump.
  • Michigan’s attorney general is pursuing a case against the state’s fake electors. And Chesebro has now admitted that the submission of false certificates was a crime in Georgia. Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes is also investigating the actions of fake electors in her state.
  • Ellis’ plea deal cited false claims made by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is a defendant in Fulton County as well as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal case.  In August, Giuliani lost a defamation case filed by two Georgia election workers.

Trial dates have not been set in the Fulton County case. Trial in the federal case is currently scheduled for March 2024, which Trump’s team is seeking to delay. 

  • No one is above the law — including former presidents and their lawyers. Ellis, Chesebro, and Powell are all facing the consequences for their efforts to overturn a free and fair election, and every step toward full accountability for the attack on our democracy matters.

On the Records

The Fulton County Defendants
We’ve previously obtained records — outlined in detail here — that shed light on the election denial activities of the unnamed co-conspirators in the federal case as well as the co-defendants and unindicted co-conspirators in Fulton County. This includes the four Fulton defendants who have now pleaded guilty.

Jenna Ellis: Records we obtained show that in December 2020, Phil Waldron  — a prominent election denier active in efforts to challenge the election — emailed Arizona lawmakers with a proposal for eliminating some ballots from vote totals. Waldron included Ellis on the email.

Kenneth Chesebro: A Nov. 18, 2020, memo that Chesebro sent to a Trump campaign lawyer in Wisconsin is one of the earliest records pointing to the hatching of the fake electors plot. We previously obtained emails indicating that in the weeks after Election Day, legislative leaders in Arizona and Wisconsin sought legal advice about whether legislators had the power to alter the selection of electors after the election had taken place. 

Sidney Powell: Powell, an attorney whom Trump privately referred to as “crazy,” pushed deceitful claims of fraud that informed election-denying efforts in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

  • Powell’s nonprofit, Defending the Republic, had reported ties to Wake TSI, the firm that conducted the 2020 and 2021 inspection of voting machines in Fulton County, Pa. At the instigation of state Sen. Doug Mastriano — as revealed in records we obtained — county election officials allowed Wake TSI to conduct a ballot review. According to a handwritten note on an agreement between the county and Wake TSI, the firm was “contracted to Defending the Republic.”
  • Documents we obtained revealing key details about the financing of the Arizona Senate’s discredited election “audit” showed that Defending the Republic donated $550,000 to the operation. Other records of payments from Powell include a $22,000 payment to lead audit contractor Cyber Ninjas, made in December 2021.

Scott Hall: Hall, who was allegedly involved in the Coffee County security breach, was copied on a late November 2020 email in which Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron told Garland Favorito that poll watchers from the Constitution Party would not be allowed at the vote recount.

Michigan Lawyer’s Involvement in Arizona ‘Audit’
Texts uncovered by the Arizona Republic show that Michigan lawyer Stefanie Lambert — who led efforts to access voting machines in multiple states — helped with Cyber Ninjas’ final report to the Arizona Senate, and pushed for the report to include false claims of fraud.

  • In one text with an election denier named Erich Speckin, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan said that Lambert “is telling me we have fraudulent ballots… has anything changed since we talked this morning; (or) is she just being her usual over optimistic self? :-)” 
  • According to the Republic, Lambert and Speckin worked together to push fraud claims in other states, including Pennsylvania.

Lambert was recently charged in Michigan for her alleged role in voting equipment breaches there.

  • We previously obtained text messages in which Logan and Lambert discussed the Michigan scheme — yet another piece of evidence of how several of the same activists worked closely together across state lines to undermine trust in the 2020 election. 

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Trump’s court whisperer had a state judicial strategy. Its full extent only became clear years later. (ProPublica)
  • Turnover has plagued local election offices since 2020. One swing state county is trying to recover (Associated Press)
  • As election workers face threats, Ohio lawmakers introduce bill to protect them (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • ‘I’ve prayed for each of you’: How Mike Johnson led a campaign of election denial (Politico)
Voting Rights
  • Judge rules Georgia’s political maps must be redrawn before 2024 elections (Washington Post)
  • True the Vote voter intimidation case goes to trial in Georgia (Democracy Docket)
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose quietly ordered purge of thousands of inactive voters last month (
  • Nearly a third of provisional ballots in Ohio’s August special election were tossed for lack of ID (Statehouse News Bureau)
  • North Carolina Senate advances congressional map plan that could give Republicans a 3-seat gain (Associated Press)
  • Pennsylvania voters’ personal info was not shared with election research group, state officials say (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
In the States
  • Rising commissary prices in Florida prisons lead to boycotts, outcry (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Leader of anti-immigration group Texans for Strong Borders also runs anonymous, hate-filled social media accounts (Texas Tribune)
  • Chicago police with extremist ties have troubling records (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • They buy coal to make steel. Ohio reps want to give them a renewable energy credit (
National News
  • Justice Thomas’s RV loan was forgiven, Senate inquiry finds (New York Times)
  • Maine mass shooting is America’s eighth, and deadliest, this year (New York Times)
LGBTQ Rights
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson used faith in campaign against gay rights (Washington Post)
  • Florida officials ask U.S. Supreme Court to block rulings limiting anti-drag show law (Associated Press)
  • Texas judge refusing to marry gay couples goes before state supreme court (Texas Tribune)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily blocks enforcement of Idaho student bathroom ban (Idaho Capital Sun)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Missouri abortion-rights lawsuit gets another day in court next week (Springfield News-Leader)
  • Medical exceptions to abortion bans often exclude mental health conditions (Missouri Independent)
  • Federal judge blocks Colorado’s new law banning abortion pill ‘reversal’ (Colorado Sun)
  • Fight over Texas anti-abortion transport bans reaches biggest battlegrounds yet (Reuters)
  • Lubbock County becomes latest to approve ‘abortion travel ban’ (Texas Tribune)
  • Georgia Supreme Court sends abortion law challenge back to lower court, leaving access unchanged (Associated Press)
  • Tennessee sues federal government over family planning funding (Nashville Tennessean)
  • This procedure is banned in the US. Why is it a hot topic in fight over Ohio’s abortion amendment? (Associated Press)
  • US abortion rates rise post-Roe amid deep divide in state-by-state access (Guardian)
  • Voters in at least 10 states are trying to protect abortion rights. GOP officials are throwing up roadblocks. (ProPublica)
  • As abortion access shrinks, hospitals fill in the gaps (New York Times)
  • Abortion is still under threat by dark money groups that helped overturn Roe (Guardian)
Threats to Education
  • Oklahoma attorney general sues to stop U.S.’s first public religious school (Associated Press)
  • Republican bill calls for ending race-based college financial aid programs (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  • Wyoming education agency will wade into book battles, Degenfelder tells Congress (News from the States)
  • Textbook publishers withdraw from Oklahoma as fight over classroom content grows (Oklahoma Voice)
  • Florida rule would limit talk of ‘social issues’ at public universities (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Meet the leader behind Patriot Mobile Action and North Texas’ conservative revolution (Dallas Morning News)
  • Missouri education commissioner’s resignation reignites debate on public schools (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Iowa schools may finally get help from the state with the new book ban law (Des Moines Register)
  • Publisher Scholastic backtracks on isolating works on race and gender (New York Times)
  • Parents like private school vouchers so much that demand is exceeding budgets in some states (Associated Press)
  • Texas sues to stop Border Patrol agents from cutting state’s razor wire at the border (Texas Tribune)
  • Texas lawmakers weigh spending $1.5 billion on more border barriers. Experts say walls alone won’t stop migrants. (Texas Tribune)
  • Police in Texas could arrest migrants under a bill that is moving closer to approval by the governor (Associated Press)
  • Final tally for first Nebraska border deployments totals nearly $1 million (News from the States)
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds defends $2 million deployment to southern border (Des Moines Register)
Trump Accountability
  • Daughter Ivanka Trump must testify at Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, New York judge rules (Associated Press)
  • Ex-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows granted immunity, tells special counsel he warned Trump about 2020 claims (ABC News)
  • Trump fined $10,000 in what judge calls second violation of gag order (Washington Post)
  • Special counsel urges judge to crack down further on Trump’s comments (Washington Post)
  • Michigan judge denies Trump’s request to throw out lawsuit that would keep him off ballot (Detroit Free Press)
  • Lawsuit to block Trump from Colorado 2024 ballot survives more legal challenges (CNN)
  • Trump files more motions to derail federal Jan. 6 case (New York Times)
  • Jan. 6 charge faced by Trump upheld on appeal for second time (Washington Post)
  • Republican candidate for Missouri attorney general joins Trump’s legal team in Jan. 6 case (Kansas City Star)