An attorney for one of former President Donald Trump's co-defendants in the Fulton County district attorney's 2020 election interference case admitted at a hearing Wednesday that he had shared witness proffer videos of key figures in the case with a media outlet, saying he thought it was in his client's interest to do so.
Jonathan Miller, an attorney for Misty Hampton, made the confession during an emergency hearing for a protective order that was prompted by the publication of parts of the video statements of Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro and Scott Hall by ABC News and The Washington Post. The judge said he would issue a protective order barring the disclosure of certain discovery information by Thursday morning.
Powell, Ellis, Chesebro and Hall were among the original 18 defendants charged alongside former President Donald Trump in the racketeering case in August. All four have pleaded guilty to related charges. The proffer videos were made pursuant to their plea agreements, which required that they provide true and accurate information to prosecutors. The videos showed Ellis recounting a conversation with Trump adviser Dan Scavino in which he told her that Trump would not leave the White House regardless of the election results, and Powell testifying that Trump was repeatedly told by others that he’d lost the election.
"In being transparent with the court and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happened and so that I can go to sleep well tonight, judge, I did release those videos to one outlet," Miller told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee during the hearing. "In all candor to the court, I need the court to know that," he said.
Asked why he'd done so, he noted that while the four's guilty pleas were public, "to hide those proffers, that show all the underlying things went into those pleas, it misleads the public about what's going on."
He said two of the defendants "were directly related to my client. And I don’t believe that either one of those hurt my client. If anything, I believe they help my client and the public needs to know that.”
"The public has a right to know," he added.
Miller did not name the defendants related to his client, but Hampton is charged with a scheme to access voting machines in Coffee County, which Powell and Hall were charged with as well. In her proffer video, Powell distanced herself from the plot while Hall identified another person as being part of the "brain trust" behind the plan, according to the Washington Post report.
The DA's office argued in court filings that a protective order was necessary "in order to protect witnesses and to safeguard sensitive and confidential information" during the discovery process. It said the leaks were "clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case, subjecting them to harassment and threats prior to trial."
Tom Clyde, an attorney for a coalition of media organizations that did not include NBC News, urged the judge not to issue a protective order.
“Essentially what the state and the defendants are trying to do is get the authority of the court behind an order that will impose secrecy on information that is exchanged during the discovery process. Notwithstanding how newsworthy that information is, notwithstanding how much it might inform the public about the circumstances of this case, but particularly in this case, the circumstances of an election that took place, that’s extremely significant in public importance,” Clyde said.
The judge said he was mindful of Clyde's First Amendment concerns, but disagreed with his arguments.
“Until we decide what’s going to be relevant and admissible, this case should be tried and not in the court of public opinion,” he said. "We've already seen what may happen when a protective order is not in place."
In a separate filing Wednesday, the DA's office urged the court to revoke the bond of defendant Harrison Floyd, the former head of Black Voices for Trump, arguing that he had violated the conditions of his release.
The DA's office said that Floyd had "publicly tweeted multiple times" this month in an effort to "intimidate codefendants and witnesses, to communicate directly and indirectly with codefendants and witnesses, and to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice."
An attorney for Floyd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.