EXCLUSIVE: Fulton prosecutors list top Trump aides, Ga. officials as witnesses

Ex-Justice Department leaders, VP Pence and Gov. Brian Kemp could be called
Then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr holds a news conference at the Department of Justice December 21, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr holds a news conference at the Department of Justice December 21, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Fulton County prosecutors could call several senior officials who served in the Trump administration and Georgia’s top elected leaders as witnesses during the trial for their election interference case, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Among the names prosecutors have included on their almost 200-person witness list: former Vice President Mike Pence; ex-Attorney General Bill Barr; onetime Justice Department officials Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue; U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; and Steve Bannon, the conservative provocateur and former aide to former President Donald Trump.

The District Attorney’s office could also call several of Georgia’s top Republican leaders, including Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

The names were provided to The AJC by several people who have reviewed the witness list, and confirmed by some who have been told they could be called to testify.

The large roster showcases the breadth of topics that Fulton prosecutors may broach at trial, which has yet to be scheduled. The case’s now 15 defendants, including Trump and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have been accused of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 election.

A spokesman for DA Fani Willis declined to comment.

CNN first reported about Pence being on the DA’s witness list, but the other names had not been previously known.

Another witness expected to be called is Cassidy Hutchinson, once one of Meadows’ top aides. Hutchinson testified before the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She recalled conversations she had or overheard that spoke to Trump’s state of mind in the weeks following the election, including ones that indicate Trump believed he had lost even though he was giving public statements that he won and that it was stolen from him because of widespread fraud.

Former top Justice Department officials Barr, Donoghue and Rosen also testified before the Jan. 6 congressional committee. They will likely need approval from the Biden Administration if they are to testify at the Fulton trial. An agency regulation says no current or former Justice Department employee may testify in response to a subpoena or court demand without obtaining prior approval by an appropriate department official.

It’s possible the DA’s office does not ask all of the witnesses to testify at trial, but their names must be on the list for them to be called.

Pence could offer important testimony about how he was pushed by Trump, attorney John Eastman and other co-defendants to overturn the Electoral College results from swing states like Georgia.

Kemp, Raffensperger and Carr, meanwhile, can speak to personal phone calls they received from Trump that pressured them to take action. One of Kemp’s top aides, Cody Hall, is also on prosecutors’ list.

The DA also could call two Republicans who refused to serve as Trump electors in Georgia after it became clear that Joe Biden had won the state. John Isakson, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, backed out of the Dec. 14, 2020 meeting of GOP electors after deciding that the effort seemed like “political gamesmanship.” Also on Willis’s list is C.J. Pearson, a young conservative social media star who didn’t serve as an elector because he moved to Alabama to attend college.

The names of potential witnesses for the state has been tightly held. They were sent to defense attorneys before a new protective order was signed to protect the release of the case’s most sensitive evidence during the discovery process. Still, relatively few names have emerged publicly in the months since then.

Since the indictment was handed up in August, prosecutors have already used — or confirmed they plan to seek out — testimony from certain witnesses, including:

  • Former defendants with plea deals — Prosecutors have struck plea agreements with four onetime defendants in the case. They include bail bondsman Scott Hall and three attorneys previously affiliated with the Trump campaign: Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis
  • Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss — The mother and daughter who served as Fulton County poll workers and were singled out by Trump for their work counting votes on election night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta
  • Secretary of State office officials — The DA’s office has already called Raffensperger and one of his top deputies, Gabe Sterling, to testify during post-indictment hearings. It similarly subpoenaed but didn’t end up calling Frances Watson, a former elections investigator in Raffensperger’s office who received a phone call from Trump in December 2020
  • Trump-affiliated attorneys — Ahead of an August hearing involving Meadows’ bid to move proceedings to federal court, the state subpoenaed as its witnesses two Georgia-based attorneys who participated in Trump’s infamous Jan. 2, 2021 phone call with Raffensperger: Kurt Hilbert and Alex Kaufman. They didn’t end up calling Kaufman, but Hilbert testified about the conversation

The DA’s office also tipped its hand to some of the witnesses it could call earlier this fall as it prepared for the speedy trial of Chesebro and Powell, who have since accepted plea deals.

Prosecutors issued summons for Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; Boris Epshteyn, one of Trump’s closest aides; former libel attorney Lin Wood; and Alex Jones, the right-wing broadcaster and conspiracy theorist.

Additionally, they sought out testimony from current and former party officials in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and other swing states won by Biden that were part of the Trump campaign’s effort to appoint GOP electors.

Some of the people on the witness list had previously testified before the special purpose grand jury that spent nearly eight months last year helping Willis compile evidence in the case.