A lawyer for one of the co-defendants in former President Donald Trump’s Georgia 2020 election case admitted during a hearing Wednesday to leaking videos of another co-defendant’s interview with prosecutors to “one outlet.”
Former Coffee County elections official Misty Hampton’s lawyer, Jonathan Miller, told Judge Scott McAfee that he released the videos, saying he believes they “helped” his client. McAfee scheduled the hearing to consider Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ motion Tuesday request for an order prohibiting the disclosure of discovery material.
“In being transparent with the court, and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happend, and so that I can go to sleep well tonight, judge, I did release those videos to one outlet,” Miller said.
ABC News published a video Monday in which co-defendant Jenna Ellis stated that Trump adviser Dan Scavino told her “the boss” was not going to leave the White House “under any circumstances.” The Washington Post also obtained the video of Ellis Monday, along with co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Scott Hall — all of whom took plea deals in the case.
“To hide those proffers that show all the underlying things that went into those pleas misleads the public about what’s going on,” Miller said when McAfee asked him to explain his thinking for the record.
“Two of those defendants were directly related to my client. And I don’t believe that either one of those hurt my client. If anything, I believe they helped my client,” he continued. Miller noted that this is “a very, very public trial” and said the district attorney’s office shouldn’t be able to “set the tone” for the entire trial.
“The public has a right to know,” he said.
“Well, it’s a good slogan, but do we have any case law that says pre-trial discovery is a part of our First Amendment concerns?” McAfee said. “It seems like having open files for everybody to start litigating the case before we actually even get inside a courtroom has a lot of side effects that I don’t know if we’ve thought through.”
A lawyer backing media organizations, including The Associated Press, CNN and The Washington Post, objected to the order.
“What the state and the defendants are trying to do is get the authority of the court behind an order that will impose secrecy on information that is exchanged during the discovery process,” he said.
Prosecutors included in their motion Tuesday an email from an attorney for defendant Harrison William Prescott Floyd stating that “It was Harrison Floyd’s team.” The motion noted that the lawyer followed up with a second email explaining the first was a “typo.”
Floyd’s attorney said during the hearing that the inclusion of that email in the motion cost him “time and aggravation” answering phone calls from the press.
“We’ve all, when we signed up for the case, agreed for some level of aggravation,” McAfee said. “Here we are.”
Most defendants agreed to a protective order proposed by co-defendant David Shafer Tuesday. McAfee ended the hearing without a ruling but saying he would model his order on the one Shafer proposed.
“Until we decide what is going to be relevant and admissible, this case should be tried not in the court of public opinion as much as possible, but before a jury and with … evidence that has been vetted and approved,” McAfee said.
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