A second lawyer who represented Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign, Kenneth Chesebro, pleaded guilty on Friday to illegal efforts to reverse the former US president’s defeat in the state of Georgia, days before he was about to go on trial.
Mr Chesebro pleaded guilty in a Fulton County court to conspiracy to commit filing of false documents, one day after another former lawyer for Mr Trump, Sidney Powell, also pleaded guilty. The two had been scheduled to be tried together beginning on Monday.
Mr Chesebro agreed to testify against Mr Trump and the other 15 co-defendants in the racketeering case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
The plea agreement calls for Mr Chesebro to be sentenced to five years of probation and pay $5,000 in restitution.
Georgia prosecutors have now gained the co-operation of two members of Mr Trump’s legal team who played significant roles in Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
The deals with Mr Chesebro and Ms Powell mean that the first scheduled trial in the case, which was set to give Mr Trump and other co-defendants a preview of the state’s case, will not happen.
The Georgia case is one of four state or federal criminal cases that Mr Trump is facing and one of two specifically focused on his attempts to overturn his election defeat.
Mr Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has pleaded not guilty and continues to claim his loss was the result of fraud.
Mr Chesebro initially was charged with racketeering and conspiring to make false statements and commit forgery. Prosecutors alleged he crafted the legal strategy for Mr Trump’s plan to create fraudulent slates of electors pledged to vote for Mr Trump in states where Mr Biden won the popular vote.
Mr Chesebro’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought to dismiss the charges by arguing that he was only providing advice as a lawyer on unsettled legal issues. His lawyers previously vowed that Mr Chesebro would not accept a guilty plea.