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Local News

Fulton 19 update: Witness list emerges, flirtation with bond revocation, Trump trial date wrangling

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by Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder

Former Republican Vice President Mike Pence tops the list of noteworthy potential witnesses who Fulton County prosecutors could put on the witness stand in the 2020 presidential election interference trial for Donald Trump and his co-defendants.

CNN was the initial media outlet to report last week that Pence was one of the high-profile names on the Fulton County District Attorney’s witness list in a felony racketeering case that accuses the former president of being a ringleader of a multi-state conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. 

Trump and many of his supporters assailed Pence for refusing to participate in a false electors scheme that intended to have Trump declared the winner in 2020 instead of President Joe Biden.

Pence has disputed assertions by Trump’s attorneys that the former president simply wanted his vice president to exert his authority on Jan. 6, 2021, by delaying Congress from confirming the electoral votes until after the election results could be more thoroughly challenged in Georgia and several other states in which Trump lost to Biden. 

Pence said that the vice president has only a ceremonial role in counting electoral votes and he had no legal authority to reject the votes for Biden.

A rematch between Trump and Biden is likely to take place in 2024, as Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Following weeks of dismal polling numbers for his bid for the Republican nomination, Pence announced in October that he was dropping out of the race. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton prosecutors’ lengthy witness list also includes former Attorney General Bill Barr, former Trump adviser Steven Bannon and Pennsylvania GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry.

Barr testified at the Jan. 6th congressional committee hearing last year that he repeatedly warned Trump against making baseless claims of a stolen election. Barr resigned several weeks after the 2020 election. 

Meanwhile, court documents that have since been removed from publicly available court docket in the Department of Justice’s election interference case appeared to show a December 2020 text message exchange in which Perry expressed support for Jeffrey Clark, a defendant in the case Fulton’s District Attorney is prosecuting, to lead the justice department’s crusade to overturn the election, according to Politico

Fulton prosecutors also requested in October that judges in Michigan and Texas order Alex Jones, a far-right media personality, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to testify at the trial.

The petition says that McDaniel would testify about her interactions with Trump and his attorney John Eastman regarding the plot to create an alternate slate of Republican electors in Georgia and several other battleground states.

Prosecutors estimate they’ll call about 150 witnesses over the course of four-months. It’s expected that many of the state’s witnesses will be the same people who testified before a Fulton County special purpose grand jury, such as Republicans Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp. 

The state’s witness list for the Fulton election interference trial tops the latest Georgia Recorder’s roundup of recent developments in the case.

Fulton defendant’s comments test bond condition limits

One of 19 defendants charged in the Fulton case is Trevian Kutti whose booking photo went viral for her Cheshire cat grin. 

The former publicist for disgraced musician R. Kelly and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West could become the second Fulton 19 defendant who prosecutors seek to have a bond revoked for violating conditions that prohibit defendants from publicly criticizing state witnesses in the case.

During a Nov. 28 Instagram Live video, Kutti appeared to refer to former Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman when using profanity while saying she would destroy an unnamed woman’s life, according to popular left-wing news network MeidasTouch.

It is alleged by Fulton prosecutors that Kutti, Harrison Floyd, the executive director of Black Voices for Trump, and Chicago Lutheran pastor Stephen Lee harassed and threatened Freeman in an attempt to force her to falsely confess to counting fraudulent absentee ballots for Biden. 

At Nov. 21 bond hearing, Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee agreed with prosecutors that Floyd technically violated a bond agreement prohibiting him from publicly communicating about witnesses and co-defendants on his social media posts. McAfee decided that Floyd’s social media comments did not warrant sending him back to jail and instead called for greater clarity regarding how defendants can communicate publicly regarding their cases.

As of Friday, no filings had been made by the DA’s office concerning Kutti’s social media comments, according to superior court online records,

MeidasTouch also reported in its Dec. 5 article that Kutti also floated in the same video a wild conspiracy theory connecting Nancy Pelosi in a convoluted plot to assassinate Vice President Kamala Harris that would eventually lead to California Gov. Gavin Newsome becoming the 2024 Democratic presidential nominee instead of Biden.

Her attorney told CNN she didn’t violate a bond agreement by merely commenting about her case. Kutti also attacked MeidasTouch.com’s editor-in-chief for posting a story accusing her of being unhinged on social media. 

Investigators with the secretary of state’s office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that the right-wing conspiracies claiming fraud committed by Freeman were unsubstantiated and false.

Freeman has spoken publicly about how the allegations spurred so many threats from election deniers that she had to move from a Fulton County home that she resided in for two decades.

Fulton DA levies critique at Trump trial date pushback 

Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis took issue last week with Trump attorney Steve Sadow’s argument at a Dec. 1 hearing that putting the former president on trial close to next year’s Election Day would be an egregious example of election interference.

Willis said in an interview with CNN that Sadow’s comments were “ridiculous” while reiterating her intention to begin the trial for Trump and his 14 remaining co-defendants in August, soon after the GOP nominating convention and three months prior to the Nov. 5 election.

Sadow is requesting that Trump’s trial be postponed until after the election or after he leaves office if reelected.

Fulton prosecutors will have to avoid scheduling Georgia trial dates that conflict with three other trials involving Trump that are scheduled to take place during the first half of 2024.

McAfee has expressed apprehension about the possibility of having all co-defendants tried at the same time and instead has suggested splitting the defendants into smaller groups.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.