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Kyle Cheney

Georgia prosecutors seek trial testimony from top Trump adviser

Boris Epshteyn was in touch with key lawyers orchestrating Donald Trump’s last-ditch bid to stay in power, according to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Georgia prosecutors intend to call Boris Epshteyn, a top lawyer and adviser to former President Donald Trump, as a witness in the upcoming trial of Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two of Trump’s co-defendants in a sprawling racketeering case related to Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election.

Epshteyn is one of six witnesses who reside outside of Georgia that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is attempting to summon to the state for the Oct. 23 trial, the first for any of the 19 co-defendants charged in the alleged conspiracy. Compelling his testimony may be a challenge in such a short timeframe, particularly given his attorney-client relationship with Trump.

Other witnesses include three Republican activists who were involved in the Trump campaign’s efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington. They are Arizona’s Greg Safsten, Nevada’s Jim DeGraffenreid — who signed false documents claiming to be presidential electors from their states — and Pennsylvania’s Lawrence Tabas, a former head of the Pennsylvania GOP who dropped out before signing the false documents. Willis indicated she anticipates their testimony to reveal concerns about the legality of Chesebro’s proposals to send the “contingent” slates and sign documents claiming to be legitimate electors despite Biden’s win in their states.

Willis’ requests, unveiled in court documents made public Thursday, provide some of the clearest insight yet into her trial strategy and the case she intends to lay out against Trump and his co-defendants.

For example, she says Epshteyn can testify about his contacts with Powell related to a November 2020 press conference in which Powell alleged that the “algorithm” used by Dominion Voting Systems machines could flip votes from Trump to Joe Biden. Willis also noted that Epshteyn was in touch with key lawyers orchestrating Trump’s last-ditch bid to stay in power, including Chesebro and John Eastman.

Willis is also seeking testimony from Lin Wood, an attorney who aligned with Powell and some of her discredited efforts to claim that Dominion machines had been manipulated to deliver the election to Biden. Wood hosted Powell and other allies, like former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn, at his South Carolina estate, and Willis indicated it was there that Powell drafted a plan to seize Dominion voting machines. A second witness related to that meeting, Aaron Vick, is also on Willis’ list.

Prosecutors have charged Powell with overseeing an effort to illegally access voting equipment in Coffee County, Ga. as part of that larger plan. Powell has argued that she had no role in orchestrating the effort.

Chesebro and Powell elected to have speedy trials, which under Georgia law required them to face a jury by early November. Prosecutors have said they intend to offer the full suite of evidence that they intend to bring out against all 19 defendants, including Trump, in the trial, which they say could last months.

To compel the attendance of witnesses from out of state, Willis must secure a court order from their home districts — a process similar to what she undertook to demand their testimony during her investigation. Some of her efforts met resistance from witnesses who challenged her authority to compel testimony, but courts — from local and state all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court — largely backed her efforts.

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