• Show Notes

Dear Reader,

Hey, how are you? Yeah, it’s me. Have a minute? Just talked to the prosecutors, got some news for you on the case.

The indictment just dropped – but, thank goodness, you’re not charged. At least, not right now. That’s the good news. They popped the former president, as we expected. And a few other folks. But, most importantly: not you. I know, it’s a huge relief.

But, before you exhale entirely, there’s some bad news too. Or, some potentially bad news. You’re listed as a co-conspirator in the indictment.

Hello? Did you drop the phone? Yeah, I’m still here. Look, it’s not great, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. But it also could get worse. So let me explain.

In any indictment, prosecutors typically use full, proper names only for the charged defendants. Everyone else gets some sort of generic label. If prosecutors have no reason to think you were involved in any crime, they’ll just call you something innocuous, like Person-1 or Witness-2 or The Accountant or The Bystander. Unfortunately, you didn’t get one of those cushy titles.

It looks like, instead, you’re a “Co-Conspirator,” or “CC” for short. Yeah, I know – the prosecutors’ description makes it about 99.7% clear that the anonymous CC is, in fact, you, so what’s with these labels? It’s mostly a convention; prosecutors have this general policy that they don’t “name” uncharged people – wouldn’t want to sully the reputation of folks who haven’t actually been charged, after all – even if the entire world can tell immediately that it’s you. Remember “Individual-1”? The mysterious guy from the Michael Cohen case who, in January 2017, “had become President of the United States”? I wonder who that man of mystery might have been?

Anyway: now you’re a CC. I wouldn’t go get t-shirts made up to brag about it, but it’s better than “Defendant.” Oh, no, it’s not just you. In Jack Smith’s federal election fraud indictment, there’s only one defendant – you know who – and then 6 co-conspirators. It was so obvious who they all were that the news channels were able to identify them and call out the names on the spot, as they first read through the indictments live, on air. And then in Fani Willis’s state-level case out of Fulton County, she charged 18 people, including the former president – and then dropped the “co-conspirator” label on 30 more. I agree: that’s a big swing.

So let’s think about what you’re going to do next. Basically, we’ve got two choices.

Option A is to hold tight and do nothing. Sometimes – I’d go so far as to say “often,” but definitely not always, and not even “almost always” – prosecutors do eventually get around to charging people like you, who they’ve originally labeled as co-conspirators. Maybe they don’t quite have the proof necessary to charge right now, but then they get something new – maybe somebody else flips, for example – and then they bump you up from CC to Defendant. Or sometimes they plan to roll out the charges sequentially. Here, for example, we know Smith is rushing to get Trump to trial, so it might be that he indicted the former president first, and alone, and plans to add you and the others sometime down the line. Maybe soon, even.

But, on the other hand, it might be that you never get charged. After all, the prosecutors clearly have drawn a line of some sort between the people they’ve chosen to charge so far, and you and your fellow CCs. Maybe they just don’t have the proof. Maybe they’ve already bitten off all they care to chew. We can’t know for sure, but you might well be in the clear, beyond a little reputational blemish. So we can opt to lay low, stay quiet, and hope the storm passes. But it also might get worse while we’re waiting.

If you don’t want to roll the dice and wait, then there’s Option B: I can bring you in. Meaning, I’ll get on the phone with the prosecutors and tell them you’re willing to consider working with them. (Sometimes prosecutors use the CC label to accomplish just this, to turn up the pressure on people like you and hope it prompts you to flip.) If they’re interested in what you have to say – and I’m sure they will be – then we’ll go in and meet with them. You’ll need to tell them everything you know – all the bad things you’ve done, plus anything that you know about anyone else. Yes, that includes the former President. And yes, if any of those people go to trial, you’ll have to take the stand and testify. And yes, this will all happen in public. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. I’m not telling you it’ll be easy.

If you do that, and assuming you were part of a crime of some sort – and let’s be real here, you probably were – then the prosecutors will make you take a guilty plea. I know: why would you plead guilty when you haven’t even been charged yet? I get it. It’s counter-intuitive.

But hear me out. Because, in a way, this is your safest option. If you go this route and cooperate, and you do it right and fully then, at the end of all this, you’ll get a sentencing letter from the prosecutors. They call it a “5k letter,” after the law it’s based on. And, believe me, that’s the golden ring for somebody in your shoes. If you get a good letter, you’ll set yourself up for a massive sentencing break – possibly even probation, given that you’ve got no priors, and aren’t charged with a violent crime here.

Want some examples? Well, the most famous one is Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. No, don’t get offended, I’m not saying you’re like the notorious Underboss – but listen to what happened to him. This guy went in and flipped on John Gotti, the infamous Gambino crime boss. Sammy admitted that he took part in 19 murders. You heard me right: 19. And you know what sentence he got? Five years. And back when I was a prosecutor, I did plenty of cases just like that: guys who committed more serious crimes than what you might’ve done, cooperated, got their 5Ks, and walked with little or no jail time. Every case is unique of course, but if a hitman who dropped 19 bodies got five years, then a relative patsy like you (no offense) would stand a shot at probation. I can’t promise anything, and it would depend a lot on which judge we draw, but you’d have a chance to walk here.

Of course, if you do flip, even if you end up getting a pass from the judge, life won’t be easy. You know the former President is going to come after you. He’ll attack you on social media, he’ll call you every name in the book, he’ll spend the rest of his life torturing you. And yeah, we’ve seen some scary examples of deranged followers acting on his words. So I can’t tell you life will be a breeze, even if you go this route. (Fortunately, his people aren’t paying my legal fees, and you’re able to afford me; otherwise, I wouldn’t be giving you such candid advice, and if you did choose to flip, I’d be gone and you’d have to pay for a different lawyer, out of your own pocket.)

I know, it’s a tough choice. You’re in a kind of purgatory, really. Do you want to wait and hope for the best? Or do we go in and cooperate and try to head off the worst? For Trump, it could make the difference between conviction and a busted trial. And for you, it’s one of the most important, and most difficult, decisions that you’ll ever make.

Stay Informed,


Note From Elie is part of the free weekly CAFE Brief newsletter.

Sign up free to receive the CAFE Brief in your inbox every Friday: cafe.com/brief