Donald Trump has a growing number of former allies that may soon become state witnesses.
The news that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is cooperating should concern Trump.
"The walls to some extent are caving in on him more and more," a former prosecutor told Insider.
Former President Donald Trump's growing legal problems may be about to get a whole lot worse.
Each day, another former lawyer or official appears to flip on Trump. ABC News and Bloomberg reported on Monday that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with special counsel Jack Smith's probe, a development that would be by far the worse among a string of former allies that have turned to would-be state's witnesses.
While Trump may soon claim to "hardly know" any of them, his glaring problem is that they know a lot about him. If they were to share it, the constriction of the 91 criminal charges will start to feel a lot tighter.
"The walls to some extent are caving in on him more and more," Mark Bederow, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office, told Insider on Wednesday. "When all of your lawyers and associates are pleading guilty and providing some degree of cooperation about the conspiracy and your alleged role in it, it's never a good thing to defend it."
The good news for Trump is that politically, he is nearing a glide path to recapturing the Republican Party's presidential nomination. As his harshest critics have suggested, Trump's campaign may increasingly turn into a legal survival mechanism.
Legally speaking, the Meadows news is a prime example of the problems ahead. Cassidy Hutchinson, one of his former top aides, became the January 6 committee's star by detailing everything she was aware of based on her conversations with him.
But Meadows was ultimately the one in the Oval Office with Trump. It was Meadows who helped arranged the infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. And it was Meadows who members of Congress turned to beg Trump to call rioters ransacking the Capitol on January 6 to go home. For all we have learned about the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Trump's inaction as the Capitol was under siege, Meadows could still say more.
"You're talking about somebody who was in the room," Bederow said. "These are people that presumably are part of the conversations and could to some extent have direct evidence over what was being said to Trump and what Trump was saying and what he knew and all of that, which could be devastating to him in many of these cases."
Thus far, most of the investigations into Trump, especially his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, have relied on lower-ranking aides. In Washington, DC, parlance "the principals" have sat on the sidelines. Even Vice President Mike Pence refused to testify to the House committee, deferring to his top aides to tell the panel about what it was like for his own running mate to be indifferent about people wanting to hang him. But Pence too has reportedly spoken with Smith's team.
They are far from the only new MAGA expats.
Three other former attorneys — Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro — have all agreed to plea deals with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Willis previously issued a sweeping indictment against Trump and his allies for trying to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election results. Among those, Ellis might be the most worrisome for Trump. She was a key figure in his election challenges, working closely with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, who claims he is struggling to pay his mounting legal bills, can't feel great about Ellis' decision either.
There's also the original Trump flipper, his former fixer Michael Cohen, who testified in Trump's civil fraud trial on Tuesday. Cohen, who went to prison, is thoroughly enjoying his rebirth as one of the former president's harshest critics and spiller of former secrets. While Bederow called Cohen a "horrible witness" because he previously pleaded guilty to making false statements, Meadows and Ellis could prove to be much better options for prosecutors.
"Meadows and Ellis — this is bad and there's no way to spin that," Bederow said.
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