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Fulton County DA opens plea deal talks with several defendants, including Trump 2020 campaign official, in Georgia election interference case

<i>Joe Raedle/Getty Images</i><br/>Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14 in Atlanta
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14 in Atlanta

By Sara Murray and Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — Several defendants in the Georgia election interference case have been approached about their interest in accepting plea deals, as the Fulton County district attorney seeks to pare back the pool of defendants and pick up cooperators ahead of potential trials, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Only one of the 19 defendants charged in the sprawling Fulton County racketeering case – bail bondsman Scott Hall – has formally accepted a plea deal. And it’s unclear whether any of the defendants currently in conversations with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office are likely to agree to a deal.

There is no indication Willis has offered any sort of deal to former President Donald Trump and a spokesperson for the district attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Among those approached by Willis’ office was Trump 2020 campaign official Mike Roman, but other defendants have also had discussions about possible plea deals in recent days, the sources said. Roman’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The plea deal conversations surrounding him were previously reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

At a hearing last week, a prosecutor from the district attorney’s office said they were likely to make plea offers to attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, two defendants in the case who are set to go to trial later this month. But it’s unclear if Powell or Chesebro would be willing to accept a deal if one were offered.

The plea deal conversations are not an unusual step, particularly given the broad pool of defendants. Sources familiar with the district attorney’s case said prosecutors hoped to whittle down the field of defendants before potential trials, just as Willis did in previous racketeering cases involving Atlanta public school educators and an ongoing case involving Atlanta-area rappers.

“She will be using this as a way to try to squeeze people to talk,” Michael J. Moore, a former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said of the plea offers. “Sometimes the deal will be so sweet that they will obviously agree to cooperate. At the end of the day, what impact that has I don’t know. I don’t know if she’ll have enough people to connect the dots or not.”

The remaining 18 defendants in the case – all of whom have pleaded not guilty – will have a diverse set of interests to weigh in deciding whether to accept a deal.

Forging ahead to trial could mean massive legal bills. But several of the defendants in the case also face potential exposure in the ongoing federal election interference investigation and may balk at any sort of plea deal that fails to immunize them from potential federal charges, lawyers told CNN.

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CNN’s Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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