A Georgia judge issued a protective order after videos of witnesses in Trump’s election interference case were leaked


ATLANTA – Judge V Election interference case in Georgia He granted a request from the Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis‘ Office for an emergency protective order yet Portions of video clips from key witnesses Against the former president Donald Trump and his allies to the media. Judge Scott McAfee on Thursday issued a… Protective order Which prevents lawyers in the case from sharing sensitive material with the public. The order requires prosecutors to effectively classify evidence it seeks to protect as “sensitive material” and gives defense attorneys 14 days to challenge any designations they disagree with. Willis’ team now has 30 days to review all the discoveries they have already provided and classify them as sensitive.

This would enhance the flow of pretrial discovery and, more importantly, protect the jury from evidence that might be deemed inadmissible at trial, McAfee said.

“The court has an interest in ensuring that all parties retain their right to a fair trial before an impartial jury, a process that could become elusive if the public is allowed to examine every piece of unfiltered evidence months before trial.” McAfee wrote in the recording.

Jenna Ellis pleads guilty to a felony charge in Fulton County District Court (John Bazemore/Pool via Getty Images file)

Jenna Ellis pleads guilty to a felony charge in Fulton County District Court (John Bazemore/Pool via Getty Images file)

Willis’ office requested a protective order In a lawsuit Tuesday after portions of the statements were recorded on video Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell And Kenneth Chesbrough The surety is surety Scott Hall It was announced. In its filing, Willis’ office said the order was necessary to “protect witnesses and protect sensitive and confidential information” during the discovery process. She said that the leaks “are clearly aimed at intimidating witnesses in this case, and exposing them to harassment and threats before the trial.”

In August, the Public Prosecution filed charges against 19 defendants In violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act Regarding efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the battleground state. Chesebro, Ellis, Hall and Powell pleaded guilty. The video-recorded statements, known as exposition videos, were made pursuant to plea agreements with the four defendants, which require them to provide true and accurate information to prosecutors.

Ellis and Powell’s statements were first reported by ABC News, while Chesebro and Hall’s statements were first reported by the Washington Post. The recordings, which NBC News did not independently obtain, revealed new details of the defendants’ testimony before prosecutors.

The videos showed Ellis recalling a conversation with Trump adviser Dan Scavino, who told her that Trump would not leave the White House regardless of the election results, she said. Powell testified that others repeatedly told Trump that he lost the election to President Joe Biden.

a Trump co-defendant’s attorney Misty Hampton admitted At a hearing on Wednesday, he said he shared eyewitness videos of key figures in the case with a media outlet, saying he believed it was in his client’s best interest.

Jonathan Miller, Hampton’s attorney, admitted during an emergency hearing Wednesday for the protective order. hampton He is accused of a scheme to access voting machines in Coffee County, for which Powell and Hall were also charged.

“In the interest of being transparent with the court and making sure no one else was to blame for what happened and so that I could sleep well tonight, Judge, I released these videos to one outlet,” Miller told McAfee during the hearing. “Quite frankly, to the court, I want the court to know that.”

McAfee had indicated on Wednesday that he would issue a protective order preventing the release of some discovery information by Thursday morning. He said the order would establish a process by which parties could classify certain evidence as sensitive.

“Until we decide what will be relevant and acceptable, this case should be tried and not in the court of public opinion,” McAfee said during Wednesday’s hearing.

Tom Clyde, an attorney for the coalition of media organizations that did not include NBC News, objected to the protective order, citing First Amendment interests, during the hearing Wednesday.

“What the state and the defendants are essentially trying to do is get the court’s authority behind an order mandating confidentiality over information that is exchanged during the discovery process. No matter how important that information is, no matter how much the public is informed of the circumstances of this case,” Clyde said. Particularly in this case, the circumstances of the elections that took place are of very great importance in terms of general importance.”

McAfee said he disagreed with Clyde’s arguments, but acknowledged First Amendment concerns. The judge said the protective order was necessary to protect the jury pool and to keep the flow of discovery going.

“Until we decide what is relevant and acceptable, this case should be tried and not in the court of public opinion,” he said during Wednesday’s hearing. “We have already seen what can happen when there is no protective order.”

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for December 1, where several requests from the defendants will be discussed.

Charlie Gill reported from Atlanta and Summer Concepcion from New York.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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