Georgia prosecutors seek emergency protective order in Trump case after confidential video disclosure


(ATLANTA) — The Georgia prosecutors who previously indicted former President Donald Trump have asked a judge to issue an emergency protective order to guard the evidence in the case, just hours after videos of confidential interviews with four defendants were obtained by news organizations.

“On November 13, 2023, confidential video recordings of proffers conducted by the State with certain witnesses pursuant to guilty plea agreements were published by ABC News and other media outlets,” the Tuesday filing from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said.

ABC News was first to report on portions of videos exclusively obtained showing Fulton County prosecutors confidentially interviewing two attorneys, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, who helped Trump try to overturn the 2020 election results.

Ellis and Powell were originally indicted alongside Trump and 16 others this summer on charges they worked to overturn the state’s election results. Both later took plea deals, allowing them to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for their cooperation. The Washington Post later reported on those proffer videos in addition to videos of two other defendants who also took deals, Kenneth Chesebro and Scott Hall.

In the interview, Ellis told prosecutors she was informed at a 2020 White House Christmas party by one of Trump’s top aids, Dan Scavino, that Trump “is not going to leave under any circumstances.”

“And he said to me, in a kind of excited tone, ‘Well, we don’t care, and we’re not going to leave,"” Ellis said of the alleged Dec. 19 conversation with Scavino. “And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said ‘Well, the boss’, meaning President Trump — and everyone understood ‘the boss,’ that’s what we all called him — he said, ‘The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power."”

Ellis said she told him, “‘Well, it doesn’t quite work that way, you realize?’ and he said, ‘We don’t care."”

The videos obtained by ABC News do not appear to depict Ellis and Powell’s full proffer sessions, but rather appear to be excerpts that total nearly an hour and a half.

A spokesperson for the Fulton County District Attorney did not respond to a request for comment on the report. Attorneys for Ellis and Powell declined to comment when reached by ABC News. Scavino also did not respond to a request for comment.

The state in its new motion denied any involvement in the video release and said the material had been turned over to the numerous defendants in the case as part of the discovery process. They said they would no longer hand out copies of the videos as part of the discovery process, and would instead offer viewings in their office.

The state further claimed the release was “clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case, subjecting them to harassment and threats prior to trial.”

The state had originally asked for a protective order in September, though it was never ruled on.

The prosecutors have now asked the judge for a temporary protective order “on an emergency basis” blocking the release of any discovery materials in the case pending a hearing, in which they are asking for a permanent order.

The judge set a hearing on the matter for Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Later Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said “there will be a trial” in her criminal case against Trump that will likely last “many months,” predicting it won’t wrap until “the winter or very early 2025.”

That timeline for a trial would mean it could be underway in the heat of the 2024 presidential election.

“I believe in that case there will be a trial. I believe the trial will take many months. And I don’t expect that we will conclude until the winter or very early part of 2025,” she said during a live televised interview as part of The Washington Post’s Global Women’s Summit in Washington, D.C.

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