By Sara Murray and Jason Morris, CNN
Investigators probing efforts to meddle with the 2020 election results in Georgia have sought testimony from a former publicist to R. Kelly and Kanye West who allegedly pressured a local election worker, according to court documents obtained by CNN.
The publicist, Trevian Kutti, made headlines last year when Reuters reported that Kutti had pressed a Georgia election worker to confess to Donald Trump’s baseless voter fraud claims or face dire consequences. Kutti told the election worker she was a “crisis manager and was sent from a high-profile individual,” according to a police report included in the court filing.
The heart of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe has focused on attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. But the interest in Kutti is an indication of the investigation’s sprawling nature. Prior to seating a special grand jury in May, Willis’ team had already spoken to more than 50 witnesses and planned to subpoena dozens of others, a source familiar with the probe told CNN.
A special grand jury could hear from Kutti and a number of other witnesses as early as this week. Several current and former officials in the Georgia secretary of state’s office have been subpoenaed to testify. Among them: former investigator Frances Watson, who Trump called in December 2020, telling her she would be “praised” for finding fraud. Gabe Sterling, the chief operating officer, who pleaded with Trump to denounce the harassment of election officials and their families, is also expected to testify.
When Kutti approached election worker Ruby Freeman in January 2021, Freeman was already facing threats. She was among the election workers Trump and his campaign had targeted by baselessly claiming she was counting fake mail-in ballots. Those claims have been refuted repeatedly by local and federal officials.
Freeman called the police, who responded and suggested that the two women speak at a local police precinct as officers supervised. Freeman agreed.
“Ms. Kutti stated that Ms. Freeman was in danger and had 48 hours to speak with her so that she could get ahead of the issue,” according to the police report. Kutti said the danger Freeman faced was related to the election, the police report stated.
During the meeting at the police precinct, Kutti reiterated those claims.
“I cannot say what specifically will take place,” Kutti told Freeman, according to the body camera footage obtained by CNN through a public records request. “I just know that it will disrupt your freedom.”
“You are a loose end for a party that needs to tidy up,” Kutti added.
During their interactions, Kutti arranged for Freeman to speak to several people over the phone in order “to acquire a false confession from Freeman,” Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney F. McDonald Wakeford wrote in a court filing that sought Kutti’s witness testimony this month.
“The identity of these third parties, as well as the nature and extent of their relationships to the Witness [Kutti] or other persons publicizing disproven allegations of election fraud, are known only by the Witness [Kutti],” Wakeford wrote.
Georgia investigators also want more information from Kutti about the events that led up to her interaction with Freeman and the exchange they had at Freeman’s home before moving to the police precinct.
Kutti did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. An attorney for Freeman also did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
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