An unlikely trio of Trump supporters are actually his defiant co-defendants

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CHANNAHON, In poor health. — Sitting on the stage of an evangelical church for a fundraiser held in his honor, the Rev. Stephen Lee spoke concerning the felony expenses he faces in Georgia for allegedly making an attempt to assist Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election. Bathed in purple gentle, the 71-year-old mentioned he wouldn’t settle for a plea deal, as 4 of his co-defendants have.

“I’m not going to plead out to a lie,” Lee mentioned Thursday. “I’m not going to cooperate with evil. I’m not going to do one thing that’s going to eat away or destroy our First Modification rights … That is the Lord’s battle, and we’ve acquired to combat it.”

Whilst more-prominent defendants, together with the legal professionals Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, have pleaded responsible within the case, these three have signaled that they’re keen to face by the previous president as he continues to say falsely that the 2020 election was stolen, even when meaning going through jail time. They have turn into inspirations to Trump’s most ardent followers, particularly as they proceed to fundraise to pay their legal professionals.

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The indictment particulars a top-to-bottom community: Concurrently Trump and his high-profile allies had been pressuring governors, state lawmakers and members of Congress to take motion to overturn the election, a few of his lesser-known backers singled out these on the lowest finish of the hierarchy of election administration, together with Freeman.

Their alleged plan fizzled, and they’re now charged alongside Trump with collaborating in a sprawling conspiracy to steal an American election. All three have pleaded not responsible to racketeering, influencing witnesses and conspiracy to solicit false statements. They might quickly sit alongside the previous president in a courtroom.

Conservative YouTube host Gary Franchi hit on that very same theme because the emcee for Lee’s fundraiser on Thursday night time not removed from Chicago. “That election was stolen proper out from underneath each single American,” Franchi mentioned, regardless of an absence of proof supporting that assertion concerning the 2020 outcomes.

He stretched his arm above his head and held up a $100 invoice. “I’ll be the primary. I’ve $100 proper right here,” he mentioned. “Who can match me on this $100? Elevate your hand if you happen to can match this $100.”

Practically three years in the past, at a Georgia legislative listening to a month after the election, an legal professional volunteering for Trump’s marketing campaign introduced a snippet of grainy surveillance video of vote counting in downtown Atlanta. Trump supporters inaccurately mentioned that it confirmed the ballot staff, later recognized as Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, conspiring to clear ballot observers from the room in order that they might produce “suitcases” stuffed with fraudulent ballots.

Georgia’s high election officers rapidly debunked the claims, however Trump’s marketing campaign and conservative media handled it as true and continued to unfold it to their huge audiences.

Trump performed the video at a rally in Georgia, and Giuliani amplified it on social media and in interviews.

Days after the president’s rally, Giuliani informed Georgia lawmakers at one other listening to that the footage confirmed the election staff exchanging USB reminiscence sticks that he implied contained fraudulent vote counts, “as in the event that they [were] vials of heroin or cocaine.” Freeman later mentioned she had handed her daughter a ginger mint, not a reminiscence stick.

Representatives for Trump and Giuliani didn’t reply to requests for remark. In an ongoing defamation lawsuit, Giuliani lately stopped contesting as a authorized matter that he made false statements about Freeman.

She lived alone and was scared. Individuals had been exhibiting up in her neighborhood, some with bullhorns, Freeman informed investigators.

It was Dec. 14, 2020, the day that electoral faculty members in each state met and the identical day that Republicans in Georgia and a few different states signed official-looking paperwork falsely claiming that Trump had received their states.

A former police officer and legislation enforcement chaplain, Lee had endorsed cops throughout a number of the nation’s darkest hours, together with the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine Excessive Faculty capturing and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults.

Now, he was on a mission to assist Trump, prosecutors allege.

“He thinks he will help me and my daughter out,” Freeman informed the dispatcher.

Audio from a 911 name made by Ruby Freeman on Dec. 15, 2020, captured her mounting fears amid escalating threats to her security following the Nov. 3. (Video: Obtained by The Washington Publish)

“It’s possible you’ll need to let her know that I’ve acquired some professional bono service for her, if she’s ,” Lee mentioned.

Bodycam footage reveals Cobb County police questioning Rev. Stephen Lee whereas parked outdoors Ruby Freeman’s house on Dec. 15, 2020. (Video: Obtained by The Washington Publish)

The frenzied plan to acquire a confession from Freeman was underway once more.

The subsequent day, Kutti traveled from Chicago to Atlanta and arrived unannounced at Freeman’s neighbor’s doorstep.

Bodycam video captured on Jan. 4, 2021, reveals Ruby Freeman assembly with Trevian Kutti at a Cobb County police station to debate her security. (Video: Obtained by The Washington Publish)

Kutti warned Freeman that one thing would occur quickly that “will disrupt your freedom,” in response to footage from a close-by police officer’s physique digital camera. “You’re a free finish for a celebration that should tidy up,” she informed Freeman.

Freeman felt betrayed. The expertise left her feeling much more unsafe, even in her own residence, mentioned these aware of her pondering on the time.

“Freedom,” she wrote, “isn’t free.”

Earlier than Kutti backed Trump, she supported Hillary Clinton, donating $3,575 to her 2008 run for president.

By 2020, she was holding a Black Voices for Trump signal on the Trump rally in Tulsa within the early phases of the lethal pandemic. The coalition drew advisers like Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. That yr, Kutti ran the unsuccessful congressional marketing campaign of Angela Stanton-King, the goddaughter of Alveda King and a QAnon-promoting former actuality TV star from Georgia whom Trump pardoned for a 2004 conspiracy conviction associated to a car-theft ring.

Lindell, the MyPillow founder and distinguished election denier, informed The Publish that he had by no means employed Kutti “and solely met her as soon as.”

Days earlier than she confirmed up on Freeman’s doorstep, Kutti posted a mash-up of images from 2020 that confirmed her proximity to high-profile Trump supporters, together with Floyd. She captioned the picture: “The neatest black man in politics.”

Floyd, the political activist

Floyd was the following of the three to give up. He live-streamed his drive towards downtown Atlanta with the caption: “Lord Shield Me Whereas Im In These Streets.”

A reserving picture reveals Floyd, 39, in a costume shirt and swimsuit coat. He appeared later at a digital court docket listening to carrying a navy blue jail-issued uniform.

Floyd, a former Marine machine-gunner, introduced he was exploring transferring again to Georgia from Maryland so he might once more run for Congress: “I’m coming again right here to get issues proper.”

In February, FBI brokers served Floyd with a federal grand jury subpoena as a part of particular counsel Jack Smith’s separate investigation into Trump’s try to overturn the 2020 election. Floyd slammed into one of many brokers and knocked him again as he swore at him, in response to a misdemeanor assault cost that was filed towards Floyd. That case is pending.

Throughout his first court docket look within the Georgia case, Floyd mentioned he had been informed that hiring an legal professional would price $40,000 to $200,000 — excess of he might afford. Quickly afterward, right-wing activist Laura Loomer and others urged individuals to assist him. Inside weeks, he raised greater than $325,000.

“Fulton County fumbled the coverup, and I’m conscious of what transpired and so they’re making an attempt to place stress on me and others to make it possible for the reality doesn’t come out,” he mentioned. “I’m trying ahead to being down right here combating the satan in Georgia.”

Lee began his profession in legislation enforcement, then went to seminary within the Nineteen Eighties and fashioned the nonprofit Police Officer Ministries.

Lee and his legal professional wouldn’t say when or how Lee got here to know Floyd and Kutti.

Two and a half years later, because the fundraiser for his authorized protection fund wound down, Lee wrapped his arm round his spouse of 4 a long time and bowed his head. Members of the viewers raised their arms to bless the couple.

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reported from Phoenix and Adriana Usero reported from Washington. Alice Crites, Amy Gardner, Holly Bailey and Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.

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