Kanye West publicist pressured Georgian election worker to confess to false fraud charges

Trevian Kutti, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West, chats with Ruby Freeman, an election worker from Georgia who faced death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulate votes, in this image capture taken from Cobb County Police Department Images from January 4, 2021 in Austell, Georgia, USA

Cobb County Police Department | via Reuters

Weeks after the 2020 election, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West visited the suburban home of Ruby Freeman, a frightened Georgian election worker who faced death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulating the votes. The publicist knocked on the door and offered to help.

The visitor, Trevian Kutti, gave her name but did not say she worked for West, a billionaire longtime friend of Trump. She said she was sent by a “prominent person,” whom she did not identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: Admit Trump’s election fraud allegations, or people will come to her house in 48 hours, and she’s going to jail.

Freeman refused. This story of how an associate of a music mogul pressured a 62-year-old temporary election worker at the center of a Trump conspiracy theory is based on previously unreported police tapes and reports, legal records and Freeman’s first media interview since she was dragged into Trump’s bid to reverse her electoral defeat.

Kutti did not respond to requests for comment. Her biography for her work at the Women’s Global Initiative, a business networking group, identifies her as a member of the “Young Black Leadership Council under President Donald Trump.” He notes that in September 2018, she “was attached as a publicist to Kanye West” and “is now West’s COO.”

When Kutti knocked on Freeman’s door on Jan. 4, Freeman called 911. At that point, Freeman said, she was suspicious of strangers.

Beginning on December 3, Trump and his campaign repeatedly accused Freeman and his daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, of illegally counting fake mail-in ballots after taking them out of mysterious suitcases while working the Election Day at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. In fact, the “suitcases” were standard voting containers and the votes were correctly counted, which county and state officials quickly confirmed, refuting allegations of fraud.

But Trump and his allies continued to accuse Freeman and Moss of election rigging. The allegations inspired hundreds of threats and harassing messages against them and their family members.

By the time Kutti arrived, Freeman needed help but was cautious and did not open the door due to the threats, according to Freeman and a police report.

So Freeman asked a neighbor to come talk to Kutti, who was with an unidentified man. Like Freeman, Kutti and the other visitor were black. Kutti told the neighbor that Freeman was in danger and that she had been sent to rescue. Freeman said she was open to meeting them. She asked Cobb County Police to send an officer to watch so she could get out, according to a recording of her 911 call.

“They say I need help,” Freeman told the dispatcher, referring to the people at his door, “it’s only a matter of time that they come out for me and my family.”

An officer arrived and spoke to Kutti, who described herself as a “crisis manager,” according to the police incident report.

Kutti reiterated that Freeman “was in danger” and had “48 hours” before “unknown subjects” showed up at her home, according to the report. At the officer’s suggestion, the women agreed to meet at a police station. The officer’s report did not identify the man accompanying Kutti.

‘You are a loose end’

Inside the station, Kutti and Freeman met in a corner, according to footage from a body camera carried by an officer present at the meeting. Reuters obtained the video through a public registration request.

Rapper Kanye West, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting in the White House Oval Office in Washington, DC, the United States, Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty images

“I can’t say what specifically is going to happen,” Kutti is heard saying to Freeman on the recording. “I just know it will disrupt your freedom,” she said, “and the freedom of one or more of your family members.”

“You’re a loose end for a party that needs tidying up,” Kutti continued. She added that “feds” were involved, without giving details.

Kutti told Freeman that she was going to put a man Kutti identified as “Harrison Ford” on speakerphone. (Freeman said the man on the phone was not the actor of the same name.) Kutti said the man had “authoritative powers to protect you,” she said.

At this point, Kutti can be heard asking the officer to give them some privacy. The body camera did not pick up a clear recording of the conversation that followed after the officer walked away from the two women.

Kutti and the man on the loudspeaker, over the next hour, tried to get Freeman to become involved in voter fraud on Election Day. Kutti offered legal assistance in return, Freeman said.

“If you don’t tell it all,” Freeman recalls telling Kutti, “you’ll go to jail.”

Growing suspicious, Freeman said she jumped up from her chair and told Kutti, “The devil is a liar,” before calling an officer.

Later at home, Freeman said, she Googled Kutti’s name and found out she was a Trump supporter.

Police said they had not investigated the incident further.

West, who changed his name in October to “Ye,” did not respond to requests for comment from another publicist who represents him.

Reuters could not independently confirm whether Kutti still works for West, or in what capacity.

Media have cited her association with the rapper since 2018, when she quit working with R. Kelly, an R&B singer who was convicted in September of racketeering and sex trafficking. Kutti’s biography says that she is the founder of Trevian Worldwide, a media and entertainment consultancy with offices in four cities. Among her clients, she says, are boxer Terence Crawford and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

The meeting came two months after West ended an unsuccessful White House bid that caught media attention when several publications revealed that allies and supporters of Trump were working on the ground to advance the West campaign. Some Democrats have said they view West’s presidential candidacy as a ruse to siphon black votes from Democrat Joe Biden. Groups aiding the rapper’s campaign have denied the accusation.

On January 5, the day after Freeman’s meeting with Kutti, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent called Freeman and urged her to leave her 20-year-old home because it wasn’t safe, Freeman said.

The next day, Jan.6, Kutti’s prediction that people would be coming down to Freeman’s home in 48 hours was true, according to a libel lawsuit filed by Freeman and Moss last week against a news site from far right. Freeman, according to the lawsuit, left hours before a crowd of angry Trump supporters surrounded his house, shouting through megaphones.

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