TLDRUpFront: Trump destroys everything he touches, and he’s had the GOP in a bear hug for years. Now, with his business under a death sentence, key insiders pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with 2020 election interference cases, even Trump’s once-allies in the House GOP face death threats from the MAGA community they once embraced.
Nothing grows forever, even Trump’s immunity from consequences for his actions.
(as this is a series of fast-moving events that may not be over I may be updating this to capture more completely additional activities, especially if more plead guilty, so check back for edits. I’ll also add Q&A in the Discussion below for commonly asked questions)
Nothing grows forever, even Trump’s seeming immunity from consequences. Having walked on two impeachments, losing the 2020 Presidential election, faring poorly in the 2022 mid-terms; former President Trump remains the overwhelming contender for the GOP nomination heading into the 2024 elections. Ever since 2016 the GOP has kneeled before Trump, hoping to make a Faustian bargain where they tolerate his nationalistic populist excesses in return for Supreme Court nominations. A bargain, which until the last few months, seemed to be paying off. The GOP gained three Supreme Court nominations which have had major impacts on nearly every facet of conservative cause from abortion to gun rights to religious freedoms.
Having gotten on their knees before Trump, however – the GOP has been unable to stand back up. The populist and nationalist popularity of Trump, which first attracted them to his brand, has infected the party at nearly every level, contorting it from within. Complete with loyalty tests, catering to his every personal grievance, and abandoning any principle conservatives once held dear in an effort to succor him – to the point where many now root for Russia; the GOP hoped that maybe one of the 2024 GOP contenders would knock Trump out or they could get out of this Faustian bargain without imploding.
But now, finally, the dominos are beginning to fall – and it’s not looking good for either the former President himself or the GOP that knelt before him.
Turning States Evidence
Two of the numerous civil and criminal cases against former President Trump arise from his plans to overturn the 2020 election by running a broad criminal conspiracy to nominate fake electors, intimidate state election officials into issuing false tallies, demanding his own Vice President to take unConstitutional actions all leading up to his incitement of an insurrection against the US Capitol on January 6th.
Now, three of the sixteen defendants in Georgia’s RICO prosecution Scott Hall, Sydney Powell, and Chesebro; the latter of whom are two of six unnamed co-conspirators in the Federal indictment have all pled guilty in the Georgia case. Their pleas all take the same form – they plead guilty to lesser charges, accepting probation vs. jail time, pay a small fine, write an apology to the citizens of Georgia and agree to fully cooperate with Georgia prosecutors providing both documents and testimony relating to this, and future, trials. Notably, these plea agreements include waiving their 5th Amendment protections against self-incrimination, so they have chosen to testify knowing that, for at least two of them, that increases criminal risk in the Federal prosecution.
Friday 29 SEP Scott Hall Pleads Guilty to 5 Misdemeanors in Georgia RICO Case
Hall, a bail bondsman who played only a minor role in the 2020 election interference conspiracy, set the dominos in motion when he held a telephone call with a Trump-aligned election security advocacy group. He bragged he’d chartered a jet and accompanied Coffee County election supervisors when they broke open election machines and imaged ‘every hard drive and every piece of equipment.’ A recording of that call was obtained by Atlanta Prosecutor Willis, who then went and obtained further video evidence of Hall orchestrating the breach. As this activity was directed by Powell, and clearly illegal, it created the first slam-dunk charge of the conspiracy. These were physical actions, admitted too on tape and recorded in video for posterity.
Hall pled guilty to five misdemeanors, will serve five years probation, and agreed to cooperate with Georgia prosecutors. Given his direct knowledge of Powell’s role, in the Coffee County breach, he is considered crucial to getting her to flip (1).
Thursday 20 OCT Sidney Powell Pleads Guilty to 6 Misdemeanors in Georgia RICO Case
If Hall was a small fish, and a small domino, he knocked over one of the biggest ones. Facing a fairly cut and dried case that had physical, audio, videotape evidence and her primary accomplice willing to testify against her – Powell pled guilty on Thursday the day before her trial was supposed to start (8). In addition to her actions directing the Georgia Coffee County breach, Powell a key player in Trump’s public efforts to overturn the election as well as in private sessions. This includes a key December 18th, 2020 meeting between President Trump, White House staff, and outside advisors, including Powell and former national security advisor Michael Flynn where Flynn:
“…discussed a plan to have the military seize voting machines in the key states that Trump lost, appoint Powell as a special counsel to investigate purported voter fraud and have Trump declare martial law as part of the effort to overturn the election results. “
White House lawyers shot down that plan, resulting in a now infamous screaming match in the Oval Office. This meeting was partly covered by cooperating witnesses in the House investigation but not by anyone there for the entirety of it. Powell wasn’t just there for the whole thing, she helped arrange it, and so can speak not just to Trump’s reactions to the plan before it was shot down by the WH lawyers but any preceding or further conversations on the same topic with any of the indicted.
Also, because the Georgia charges against her were for executing portions of the 18 DEC plan, having Powell coordinate to seize Georgie election machines, it wouldn’t have been off limits in the Georgia trial. It appears that Powell gambled and lost trying to navigate a squeeze play between both a Federal and State prosecution. Along with Chesesbro, below, Powell demanded an expedited State prosecution. So where she had months to work the Federal case, the Georgia trial was supposed to begin today. Given the nature of the charges, a physical smash-and-grab of a tangible item, and Hall’s corroborating testimony backing up the prosecution, Powell likely looked at the jail time in the Georgia case and realized that may be a reality in a matter of weeks rather than months. She doesn’t have Trump’s resources or publicity draw to take everything up to the Supreme Court and he’s kind of already hung her out to dry. Indeed, in her pleading, not only did Powell waive her rights to a jury trial, she also waived her 5th Amendment rights as well against self-incrimination (2).
Both a former federal prosecutor and LawFare analysis indicate(7) this was done likely in the knowledge that she would have to cooperate with the Federal prosecutor’s request for cooperation as well, even though she currently has no deal with Smith.
“If she is cooperating with Willis, she should be available to be interviewed by Smith and testify,” Fredericksen said. “She may insist on some kind of protection or immunity from Smith in Smith’s case, but her ability to testify directly to what Trump may have said about the plans to overthrow the election could make her a critical witness.(4)“
But, the Georgia Trial is now, the Federal trial is later, so there’s still time to cut a deal with Smith. Even though that will likely not allow her to plead down to misdemeanors and require pleading to a Federal felony.
Powell had moved to expedite her trial and was joined with Chesebro. Chesebro, whose case was much harder for prosecutors to prosecute, tried to have his trial severed from Powell’s. A judge denied that motion but in case of be careful what you wish for, Powell’s last-minute plea meant that Chesebro was going to be tried alone. Just with Powell operating as a states witness potentially against him.
Powell pled guilty to six misdemeanors, will serve six years probation, and agreed to cooperate with Georgia prosecutors.
Friday, 20 October Chesebro Pleads Guilty to in Georgia RICO Case
Less than 24 hours after Powell auto-severed herself from Chesebro’s trial, Chesebro decided going it alone with her as a prosecution witness wasn’t his idea of a good time and also pled guilty. This was on the same day jury selection in his trial was about to begin.
Chesebro is considered the architect of the fake-elector strategy and is one of the 18 RICO co-defendants and unnamed co-conspirator #5 in the Federal indictment. Originally he suggested a plan of sowing doubt about election results while ongoing litigation in the courts was underway. But with the passing of safe-harbor day of December 8th and no litigation under consideration, Chesebro continued to promote even wilder strategies. One suggested Vice President Pence recuse himself from certifying the election results, one of many strategies the Vice President refused. Cheseboro was with Alex Jones on the 6th of January. It’s never been known whether he entered the Capitol, and he’s previously invoked the 5th Amendment and refused to hand over documents or provide testimony on his actions that day or in the weeks leading up.
Having both Powell and Chesebro cooperating with State, and likely Federal prosecutors is going to make it very tough for the remaining defendants. And it will be interesting to see who holds the line and who cuts a deal in the next few days or weeks.
Chesebro has pled guilty to a misdemeanor and a felony charge of filing false documents in Georgia. He has a 5 year suspended sentence, has to pay $5,000, and must provide 100 hours of community service, as well as agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.
Tuesday 24 OCT Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty to Felony in Georgia RICO Case
Four days after Chesebro pled, the next domino fell when former President Trump attorney Jenna Ellis pled guilty to a single felony of aiding and abetting false statements (9). She is the fourth of the 18 originally indicted Georgia co-conspirators to plead guilty. Like Chesebro, she is a former attorney of President Trump. She was considered likey to plead given previous statements where she sought to create distance between herself and Trump claiming he didn’t accept accountability for his wrongdoings.
Ellis played key roles in most of the main areas of allegation in both the Georgia and Federal cases. Like Powell and Guiliani, she was part of the ‘elite strike team’ assembled to pursue legal cases alleging fraud. She also visited legislatures in Like, Chesbro she drafted legal, she pursued cases asserting election fraud that were dismissed, and in some instances, found baseless without merit.
Between November 25th and December 4th Ellis met with Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and during these meetings, she tried to convince them to suspend or overturn the elections or fail to certify the electors Biden had won through legislative fiat.
Similar to Chesebro, she drafted two key legal strategy memos asserting non-existent Constitutional rights for the Vice President to bar the certification of electoral college votes on 6 January. The first was on New Years Even 2020, suggesting Pence could return the electoral votes of six battleground states on 6 January, giving them until 15 January to recertify them. If any state failed to do so neither Biden nor Trump would have the requisite electoral college majority, resulting in the House voting by delegation to elect President, with presumably Trump would’ve won 26 of 50. When Pence rejected this stratagem she wrote another memo on January 5th the day before the insurrection, claiming the Electoral Count Act was un-Constitutional and asserting Vice President Pence could simply reject all the state electoral counts as disputes. This memo, provided to another Trump attorney, was rejected.
Her cooperation has a psychological benefit to the case, marking the first co-defendent to plead guilty who was not facing an imminent trial date. And while her information may not be incrementally much more than what Powell and Chesebro already provided, she does increase the pool of documents and testimony for Georgia Attorney Fanni Willis to select from in choosing what to use in any particular instance. However, she has particular knowledge in the Federal case of the specific activities that occurred in other states than Georgia, states which, if the Trump campaign activity in Georgia is any indication, may themselves hold additional crimes of election interference that could be added to the Federal charge or by those states. Specifically, she seems to be a route to increase pressure on Rudolph Guliani, considered a prize convert for any prosecution to flip. Guliani is at the core of Trump’s legal and alleged illegal efforts, has been having money problems and seems to be unable to pay lawyer fees. Ellis and Guiliani worked together to take control of the Trump legal response to the election and were very close throughout the time period. In her pleading, Ellis, who is 38 claimed she relied on ‘inaccurate information’ from older, more experienced attorneys, which is suspected to be a reference to Guiliani. This could be a signal that Willis is coming for Guiliani, or holding the door open for him to arrange a plea deal, or both.
Chesebro has pled guilty to a felony charge with five years probation, $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, a public apology to Georgia voters and an agreement to cooperate with investigators.
(This Space Reserved for Next Defendant to Plead Guilty)
Trump’s Business Has Been Sentenced to Death
The New York fraud case against Trump’s business interests flew under the radar in the last few weeks. And this was curious to me, because if there is any single thing associated with Brand Trump it’s his business real-estate holdings. The case, compared to election interference and classified records and even allegations of sexual assault and rape just wasn’t as exciting. Trump’s organization over-inflated property values when seeking bank loans, then claimed far lower values when paying property taxes. These were not rounding errors, but orders of magnitude in some cases accounting for several hundred million dollars in difference. As a result, the organization, and Trump, are facing both civil and criminal charges of fraud.
However, the penalties in a case like this, even just for civil violations, are severe. Especailly for someone who has invested as much pride and identity into his real-estate as Trump. For those wondering if corporations are really people, this is a masterclass in the difference. The penalties include a forced dissolution and liquidation of the businesses involved, like Chapter 7 bankruptcy without the wine and dinner before hand; disgorgements of all profits associated with the fraud; and prohibition of any individual so convicted from ever doing business in New York again.
The trial had only begun with preliminary motions and documentation. However, since the standard of civil fraud is false and misleading documents, and upon request of the prosecutor, the Judge issued a summary judgment on the civil portion of the case before the main trial even got underway.
I once met a guy who insisted he’d won a game of Chess no one had seen him play. And though it took a while, I eventually got him to explain that what he meant by winning the game was that he imagined playing it in his head and imagined winning. This version of mental-chess explains just how bad Trump’s defense was during the case:
- Asked why Trump didn’t disclose his properties were under rent control, which would decrease their value, Trump’s attorneys responded that at some time in the future they might not be under rent control.
- Asked why Mar-a-Largo’s property value failed to disclose extremely restrictive covenants, that would prevent future development, Trump’s attorneys argued that in the future the law may change.
- Asked why real estate valuations were not made according to generally accepted industry practices, Trump’s attorneys argued that the value of the real-estate was based on Trump brand that was worth billions.
- Asked to provide a square footage estimate of his apartment in Trump Tower, the paperwork listed 30,000′; nearly 3x larger than it was.
- Trump’s team argued that there is no such thing as objective value, and therefore value is whatever Trump believes it is.
- Trump’s attorney also argued that Trump could submit false information as long as the recipients, upon their own due diligence, knew it was false.
- Asked why the real estate valuations were not based on market sales rate, Trump himself in deposition claimed he could get a Saudi to buy any property at any price he asked…. Yah…they said that!
Consider the screenshot below, from sworn deposition, where Trump’s defense relied on the dreams of potential buyers:
Note the judge’s response. Turns out, dreaming of real-estate buyers doesn’t mean you have a buyer for real-estate just like dreaming you can win at chess doesn’t mean you can actually win at chess.
This is not a close call under the standard of the civil fraud which unlike many crimes doesn’t require an ‘intention’ to defraud. Just that inaccurate, dishonest, or misleading information is submitted. On request of NY prosecuting attorney James; Judge Erogan issued a summary judgment on the civil portion of the case. This amounted to signing a death warrant on over 130 different business entities Trump controls within the state of New York. LegalEagle, covering the verdict in a special segment, referred to it as a ‘corporate death penalty’ and that Trump’s business had been “nuked from orbit” (3).
The pain for Trump didn’t stop there. Because his lawyers kept bringing up bad arguments that had already been ruled on, both in court and appeal, and rejected, the Judge sanctioned the attorneys fining them. Trump’s defense also forgot to check the box for a jury trial meaning the remaining parts of the trial: determmining criminal guilt and establishing the level of fines are now being overseen by the very same judge.
So already as a consequence, the 10 business entities including all the properties they hold, which are all over the world, have been dissolved. That means the businesses, as legal fictions, have been erased. They can’t hold properies, they can’t shield assets, or protect owners from liabilities. These entities are now in essentially in a court-appointed receivership. Trump has lost control of them. Trump and other members of his family charged under the suit can’t so much as run a lemonade stand, let alone a real estate company in New York; a key market for his business holdings. The receivership is holding the properties ready to conduct a fire-sale; depending on the final fines determined during the current portion of the trial. And from what I understand that fire sale will begin within 10 days after the current trial is ended. It’s possible, that fire-sale may include the Trump name and brand itself, something former President Trump has carefully cultivated as a business asset. A business asset potentially under receivership.
And as a final self-inflicted injury, even when the properties were under receivership Trump’s business managers were detected continuing to perpetuate the kinds of fraud revealed at the trial as well as making efforts to try and move the properties to a “backup” entity outside the State of New York. This of course was stopped, but may be brought up during the criminal part of the trial that these actions were not accidental, but intentional.
The scope of the overall impact is going to be determined by the amount of penalties. But considernig that Trump vastly inflated his property values to begin with, no one’s going to take his word. The current estimated penalty amount is close to $250M, and Mar-a-Lago depending on who you ask is worth between $16M-$75M; not the several hundred million Trump claimed it as. And since it’s held in one of the New York entities under receivership, it’s at risk. This means that simply selling his prize home in Mar-a-Lago is likely to only clear a fraction of the fine. Trump Tower is likewise on the fire sale list.
Trump’s House GOP allies facing Death Threats from MAGA Community
I made a forecast earlier in the year that, despite his commanding lead in all GOP polling, as Trump faced increasing pressures on the legal front and within the GOP establishment, what had been an externally facing violent behavior would begin to focus inwards. I even suggested the first political act of violence in the 2024 Presidential election campaign would not be between Democrats and Republic, but between Republicans who all with a few exceptions are ostensibly Trump allies and supporters, or have been, over time. With the House GOP paralyzed, unable to elect a Speaker, even once-strong Trump allies are now facing death threats. And the calls are coming from within the House.
House Rep Don Baco’s wife sleeps now with a loaded gun by the bedside (5) while Representative Drew Ferguson (GA-R) admitted to colleagues he had to have a Sheriff’s deputy placed at his daughter’s school due to the level of threats (6). The reason? They were unwilling to back Rep Jim Jordan, considered a MAGA stalwart for House Speaker. The intimidation tactics backfired, leading to Jordan losing more votes each time he went to the floor until he finally had to abandon the effort as Scalise did before him.
This leaves the House GOP with no clear Speaker and a multi-way fight illustrates how much Trump has anchored the party away from any purported principles and to an organization to further his own grievances. In indicating why one of the contenders, Rep Emmer, couldn’t become Speaker Trump supporters and Trump himself offered several reasons:
- Is not sufficiently embedded in the MAGA community.
- Perceived as a Trump hater.
- Perceived to have ‘no relationship’ with Trump.
- Did not defend Trump forcefully enough against his indictments.
- Criticized Trump after 6 JAN Insurrection.
These are not principled positions of domestic or foreign policy, nor statements of governing values. They are entirely wholly subsumed within Trump grievance and the cult of personality he has created for himself within the GOP (10.)
(2) Cued to the time stamp where Powell agrees to all the rights she’s waiving by pleading https://youtu.be/bHTz__OGYVo?t=977