Dear Commons Community,
Former Republican bail bondsman Scott Hall, one of the 19 people charged alongside Donald Trump for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia, entered into a plea agreement yesterday, becoming the first defendant to plead guilty in the sprawling criminal case.
The surprise move from Hall came after he gave a recorded statement, it was revealed in court, to prosecutors who are almost certain to use that testimony against the former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell when she goes to trial in October accused of several of the same crimes.
A transcript of the court proceeding showed Hall pleading guilty to five counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties, a misdemeanor charge.
Hall was sentenced to five years’ probation, a $5,000 fine, 200 hours of community service, and to write an apology letter to the state. As reported by The Guardian.
The description of the plea agreement suggested prosecutors were interested in having Hall flip against Trump and the other co-defendants in the wider Rico case, but especially against people like Powell who had similar legal exposure to him and also had direct links to Trump.
In addition to contacts with Powell, Hall also had a 63 minute phone call with former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark on 2 January 2021 where they discussed the 2020 election results in Georgia, according to the indictment. Clark, another co-defendant, lost his bid to transfer his case to federal court on Monday.
Hall was indicted by an Atlanta-area grand jury last month on charges, brought by the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, that he had played a role in trying to reverse Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election in a brazen plot to access voting machines in Coffee county, Georgia.
The scheme involved several Trump allies hiring a team of forensics experts that gained unauthorized access to the voting machines and copied virtually every part of the elections systems, before uploading them to a password-protected website that could be accessed by 2020 election deniers.
A day after the Capitol attack in Washington, surveillance footage showed data experts from SullivanStrickler, a firm that specializes in “imaging”, or making exact copies, of electronic devices, arrive at the Coffee county election office and meeting with Hall as well as others.
What happened inside the elections office is only partially captured on surveillance video, but records show the Sullivan/Strickler team imaged almost every component of the election systems, including ballot scanners, the server used to count votes, thumb drives and flash memory cards.
Hall was charged with multiple counts including engaging in the Rico (racketeering) plot, conspiring to commit election fraud, conspiring to commit computer theft, conspiring to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state of Georgia.
Powell, the former Trump lawyer who was charged with many of the same criminal violations, has argued that she did nothing wrong because it was only her non-profit company that paid the forensics experts and that there had been authorization from officials to access the voting machines.
The exact nature of the recorded statement that Hall gave prosecutors remains unclear because it took place before he revealed he had taken the plea agreement and was not available on the case docket.
But Melissa Redmon, a former deputy Fulton county district attorney and assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, said Hall probably got the agreement because his testimony would undercut Powell’s defense arguments that the voting machine breaches were above board.
The jury selection for Powell’s case, where she is being tried alongside another ex-Trump lawyer called Kenneth Chesebro, is scheduled to start on 23 October. Powell and Chesebro are going separately from the other co-defendants after they requested a speedy trial under Georgia state law.
Now that one indictee in this case has flipped, might we see others do the same!