Eastman, other defendants in Fulton 2020 election probe start to surrender at county jail

Colorado attorney Jenna Ellis agrees to $100,000 bond

By: - August 23, 2023 4:21 pm

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis unveiled a grand jury’s charges against former President Donald Trump and 18 others as part of a wide-ranging RICO case. The first suspects in that case reported to the Fulton County jail Tuesday. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Recorder.

Defendants began turning themselves in Tuesday in connection with former President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

Trump is expected to surrender for booking at the Fulton County jail on Thursday before he is released on $200,000 bond, but at least two of his 18 co-defendants arrived at the jail Tuesday, according to jail documents.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis gave the suspects until Friday at noon to appear.

Attorney John Eastman and bail bondsman Scott Hall were the first to turn themselves in Tuesday.

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Eastman is accused of presenting false documents to state lawmakers in an attempt to convince them to overrule President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia.

Hall allegedly helped break into voting machines in Coffee County.

At least seven other defendants reached bond agreements for their releases, bringing the total number to 12 out of 19.

Former state senator and former Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer agreed to a $75,000 bond Tuesday, and current state Sen. Shawn Still signed off on $10,000. Still is the only currently-serving Georgia lawmaker among the indicted.

Live coverage from Fulton County: Trump, allies surrender in election interference case

Both men allegedly served as fake electors, who sought to illegitimately approve Trump as the winner in Georgia, with Shafer presiding over the electors’ Dec. 14, 2020 meeting.

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who allegedly provided the documents signed by Georgia’s Republican electors in an attempt to have Congress consider them as legitimate electoral votes for Trump, agreed to a bond of $100,000.

Michael Roman served as director of Election Day operations for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and is alleged to be one of the main planners of the fake elector scheme in Georgia and other battleground states. He signed on to a $50,000 bond.

Cathy Latham, ex-chair of the Coffee County GOP and another alleged fake elector, is also accused of organizing the intrusion into her county’s voting systems. She was assigned a $75,000 bond.

Attorney Jenna Ellis agreed to a $100,000 bond. She is accused of making false statements about election fraud to officials in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona in an attempt to have illegitimate electors appointed in those states.

Stephen Cliffgard Lee agreed to a $75,000 bond. He is accused of harassing a Fulton County poll worker who in 2020 became a prime target of Trump and other conspiracy theorists pushing unfounded ballot stuffing allegations at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. According to the indictment, Lee and two other alleged conspirators falsely offered the poll worker protection in order to influence her testimony before government officials.

Georgia lawyer Robert Cheeley allegedly made false statements concerning voter fraud at the State Farm Arena. Cheeley is also alleged to have been part of an effort to pressure then- Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.

Attorneys John Eastman, left, and Jenna Ellis appear in booking photos released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. Eastman, a former visiting scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Ellis, a Colorado Christian University professor, were charged alongside former President Donald Trump in connection with an alleged conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office)

Moving venues

Some of the defendants are testing a legal theory that charges against them should be dropped or at least moved to federal court because they were acting as or working on behalf of federal officials at the time of their alleged actions.

In a court document filed late Monday, Shafer argued that his case should be moved to federal court rather than state court because he was acting under the authority of the federal government

“Mr. Shafer and the other Republican Electors in the 2020 election acted at the direction of the incumbent President and other federal officials,” his attorneys wrote. “Attorneys for the President and Mr. Shafer specifically instructed Mr. Shafer, verbally and in writing, that the Republican electors’ meeting and casting their ballots on December 14, 2020 was consistent with counsels’ advice and was necessary to preserve the presidential election contest.”

Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Trump’s top environmental lawyer and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who actually were federal officers, have made similar arguments. Trump is expected to do the same.

On Tuesday, Meadows’ attorneys filed a new emergency brief in federal court seeking to move his trial or prevent Willis from ordering his arrest if he does not meet the Friday deadline.

Meadows attached to his motion an email from Willis sent Tuesday morning denying his request for an extension.

“I am not granting any extensions,” Willis wrote. “I gave 2 weeks for people to surrender themselves to the court. Your client is no different than any other criminal defendant in this jurisdiction. The two weeks was a tremendous courtesy. At 12:30 pm on Friday I shall file warrants in the system.”

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.

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