Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro pleads guilty over efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro appears in court
Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro appears before Judge Scott MacAfee during a hearing Oct. 10 in Atlanta.
(Alyssa Pointer / Associated Press)

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty to a felony on Friday just as jury selection was getting underway in his trial on charges accusing him of participating in efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia.

Chesebro, charged alongside Trump and 17 others with violating the state’s racketeering law, pleaded guilty in a last-minute deal to one felony charge of conspiracy to file false documents.

His plea came a day after Sidney Powell, a fellow former Trump lawyer who had been scheduled to go to trial with him, entered her own deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts.


Chesebro was sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution, write an apology letter to Georgia’s residents and testify truthfully at any related trials.

The two guilty pleas — along with a third from a bail bondsman last month — are major victories for Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis, who obtained the indictment in August. The deals whittle down an unwieldy pool of defendants and allow her to avoid lengthy trials for the first three — proceedings that would have given the remaining 16 insight into her trial strategy.

Chesebro, who lives in Puerto Rico, was initially charged with felony racketeering and six other counts in the wide-ranging scheme to keep the Republican president in power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.

The indictment alleges that Chesebro coordinated and executed a plan to have 16 Georgia Republicans sign a certificate declaring falsely that Trump had won the state and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

The plea deal ensures that Chesebro publicly accepts responsibility for his conduct in the case and removes the uncertainty of a jury trial.

It also compels him to testify about communications he had with Trump’s campaign lawyers and close associates, including co-defendant Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Trump attorney.


Jury selection had been set to start Friday for thetrial of Powell and Chesebro, who had both filed demands for a speedy trial. After Powell pleaded guilty, Chesebro was to continue to trial on his own.

Powell’s deal requires her to serve six years of probation, pay a $6,000 fine and write an apology letter to Georgia and its residents. She also recorded a statement for prosecutors and agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants at future trials.

A lower-profile defendant in the case, bail bondsman Scott Graham Hall, pleaded guilty last month to five misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to five years of probation and also agreed to testify in further proceedings.

All of the other defendants, including Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have entered not-guilty pleas.

Prosecutors allege that Chesebro unlawfully conspired with Trump and lawyers associated with his campaign to have the group of Georgia Republicans sign the false elector certificate and to submit it to various federal authorities.

He also communicated with Trump campaign lawyers and GOP leaders in other swing states won by Biden seeking to get the states to submit false slates of electors, prosecutors alleged. The communications included memos in which Chesebro advocated for Republicans in those states
to cast electoral votes for Trump, and providing detailed instructions on how to carry out the process.


In an email to Giuliani, he outlined strategies to disrupt and delay the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, during which electoral votes were to be certified. He wrote that those strategies were “preferable to allowing the Electoral Count Act to operate by its terms.”