The Georgia prosecutor who is leading a case against former President Donald Trump and more than a dozen others asked a judge Tuesday to issue an “emergency renewed motion” for a protective order on certain discovery materials.
In court papers filed in Fulton County, District Attorney Fani Willis wrote that the judge should issue an order on an “emergency basis” to hand down “a protective order over all discovery materials produced by the State to any defendant in this matter in order to protect witnesses and to safeguard sensitive and confidential information.”
That includes statements of witnesses, personal identifying information of witnesses, records from government agencies, grand jury materials, confidential communications, confidential business records, and documents acquired under sealed orders, among other evidence. Previously, her office has sought an emergency protective order over certain materials in the case.
The request came hours after several media outlets, including the Washington Post and ABC News, published recorded statements that were given to Fulton County prosecutors by four defendants who have accepted plea deals, including Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, and Scott Hall. Ms. Willis, a Democrat, cited the leak of those statements in her Tuesday filing.
The prosecutors also said they would not provide “confidential video recordings of proffers” to defense attorneys who have to view those materials at the district attorney’s office. They can take notes but are prohibited from recording the statements, the filing said.
“These confidential video recordings were not released by the State to any party other than the defendants charged in the indictment, pursuant to the discovery process as required by law,” the prosecutors’ filing stated. “The release of these confidential video recordings is clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case, subjecting them to harassment and threats prior to trial, constitutes indirect communication about the facts of this case with codefendants and witnesses, and obstructs the administration of justice, in violation of the conditions of release imposed on each defendant.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors alleged that the “release of these confidential video recordings is clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case, subjecting them to harassment and threats prior to trial.” It also should be considered “indirect communication” about the case with witnesses and co-defendants, tantamount to obstruction of justice, according to her filing.
Other than seeking the emergency order, Ms. Willis’ office also wants the court to schedule an emergency hearing on her motion that was filed in September regarding a permanent order.
Some outside legal analysts have said that it’s unusual that no protective order was issued. “It’s surprising there wasn’t a protective order already in place,” former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance wrote in a post on X. “The court still has the ability to inquire into how these disclosures were made & whether any lawyers violated ethics rules.”
What Was Leaked
According to the videos that were sourced by ABC News, Ms. Powell, a former federal prosecutor, claimed that she frequently communicated with President Trump after the 2020 election but said she did not have much knowledge of election law. The former president has said that he never retained Ms. Powell as part of his election team, while her attorneys in August 2023 said that she never signed an agreement to do so.
“Did I know anything about election law? No,” she told Fulton County prosecutors, ABC News reported. “But I understand fraud from having been a prosecutor for 10 years, and knew generally what the fraud suit should be if the evidence showed what I thought it showed.”
Ms. Powell also stated that “I didn’t think he had lost,” referring to the election. “I saw an avenue pursuant to which, if I was right, he would remain president,” she added, according to the report.
An attorney for President Trump, Steve Sadow, told ABC that the statements are “absolutely meaningless.” He also rejected statements that were allegedly made by Ms. Ellis about the 2020 election.
“The only salient fact to this nonsense line of inquiry is that President Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021, and returned to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Mr. Sadow said. “If this is the type of bogus, ridiculous ‘evidence’ DA Willis intends to rely upon, it is one more reason that this political, travesty of a case must be dismissed.”
In a Monday night post on X, one of the defendants Harrison Floyd said “There is literally NOTHING here but name calling & speculation,” adding that “leaking Jenna Ellis & Sidney Powell proffer is nothing more than an attempt at TAINTING THE JURY POOL.”
After Ms. Powell took the Fulton County plea deal, President Trump wrote on Truth Social that “despite the Fake News reports to the contrary, and without even reaching out to ask the Trump Campaign, MS. POWELL WAS NOT MY ATTORNEY, AND NEVER WAS.”