There are few sea monsters as terrifying as the kraken.
According to Norse legends, the gigantic creature dwelled off the coasts of Norway and Greenland, where it stalked and terrorized sailors with its octopus-like appearance. The kraken was believed to be over a mile across in early Norse sagas and was sometimes mistaken for an island due to its sheer size. When ships crossed its path, it would plunge beneath the vessel and wrap its many arms around the hull before capsizing the ship, resigning the crew to their fates: to drown or be eaten alive.
The legendary creature has haunted sailors’ imaginations for centuries. The Carta marina, the first detailed map of the Nordic countries from 1539, showed several monstrous sea creatures in the waters between Norway and Iceland. In 1735, Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus even included the kraken in the first edition of Systema Naturae, his systematic natural catalog, while Erik Pontoppidan, bishop of Bergen and author of “The first Attempt at a Natural History of Norway,” described the kraken as “incontestably the largest Sea monster in the world.”
While the kraken likely originated from sightings of real-life giant squids, the awe-inspiring creature continues to make cameo appearances in pop culture. Its most recent appearance has been in the conspiracy-fueled aftermath of the 2020 United States presidential election. And while the kraken has historically been a monster to be feared, it has now been rebranded as the anointed savior of the United States.
Sidney Powell—a veteran litigator turned QAnon heroine—helped resurface the legendary sea monster by repeatedly threatening to “release the kraken” in statements that referenced her ongoing efforts to challenge the election results. Powell, who also authored the book “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice,” filed several lawsuits alleging that widespread voter fraud was responsible for Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
Powell’s efforts earned her praise from President Donald Trump and elevated her to superstar status within the conspiratorial underbelly of the internet.
Release the Kraken
“President Trump won this election in a landslide,” Powell said during an interview with Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs on Nov. 13. “It’s going to be irrefutable. Patriots are coming forward every day, all day, faster than we can collect their information.”
Dressed in a white cardigan and leopard-print scarf, Powell went on to claim that her team had “statistical evidence” of widespread voter fraud that they planned to release to overturn results in several states—evidence that she believed would lead to a “massive criminal investigation that is going to affect millions of voters and elections.”
“I’m going to release the kraken,” Powell concluded.
The aforementioned phrase—taken from the 1981 movie “The Clash of the Titans”—has since flooded social media platforms including Twitter, where it trended shortly after the interview with more than 100,000 tweets, most of which were propagated by far-right personalities and QAnon adherents. One video of Powell’s appearance garnered more than 1.5 million views within a matter of days.
It should be noted that the Department of Homeland Security’s Elections Infrastructure Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees released a joint statementconfirming that the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure in American history” and that there is “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
However, the statement did not dissuade Powell. A few days following her infamous Fox Business interview, she appeared alongside Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and members of the president’s legal team at a press conference. During the televised conference, she made several unsubstantiated claims about voting machines and electoral fraud, including that the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia and Michigan were created in Venezuela for the sole purpose of manipulating election results in favor of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. She also vowed to “blow up” Georgia with a court filing she deemed “biblical.”
By Nov. 22, the Trump campaign’s legal team had distanced itself from Powell —Powell’s conspiracies seemingly too outlandish for even them. “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity,” Giuliani and another lawyer for Trump, Jenna Ellis, said in a statement.
Powell’s conspiratorial comments were also too much for Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who said that when his team reached out to Powell and requested some evidence, she refused to provide any information to support her claims. “When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her,” Carlson explained on air.
“Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous—we’re with her there—but she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another,” Carlson concluded. “Not one.”
Despite this, Powell doubled down on her claims. On Nov. 25, she announced that she had filed lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan, which she posted on her legal defense fund website under the title “The Kraken is released.” The site also bore a picture of Powell smiling with the caption “Kraken Releaser.”
Powell’s initial filing in Georgia was riddled with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and nonsensical claims such as “computerized ballot-stuffing and vote manipulation” enacted by “foreign oligarchs and dictators.”
Powell made no attempt to offer evidence for her sensational claims, instead repeating many of her previous statements on voter fraud and the Dominion voting machines, many of which have already been disproven. One such example is Powell’s claim that the “design and features of the Dominion software do not permit a simple audit to reveal its misallocation, redistribution, or deletion of votes,” making it impossible to discover fraudulent activity. In response to Powell’s allegation, Dominion released a statement that “every vote from a Dominion device in Georgia is documented on an auditable paper trail and creates a verifiable paper ballot available for hand-counting.”
Georgia conducted a hand recount of ballots, which confirmed Joe Biden as the winner.
Powell’s bid to overturn the election results in Georgia did not stop there. The attorney filed an affidavit Monday citing Ron Watkins, the former administrator of the 8kun message board (home of Q’s infamous drops) and a prominent QAnon figure, as evidence. Watkins, who has no experience with electronic voting systems, is quoted saying he wants to “alert the public and let the world know the truth about actual voting tabulation software design” but never actually says that there was any fraud in the Georgia election.
Ron Watkins, along with his father Jim, are among the handful of people who can verify Q’s drops on 8kun. Some have even suggested that the Watkins family might be behind the Q account entirely, though both Ron and Jim have denied the allegations. Regardless, Powell’s decision to include an affidavit citing a central QAnon figure emphasizes her ties to the virtual cult—a cult that now deems her a heroine to their cause.
The QAnon Queen
Amid chants of “USA,” “Kraken,” and “We Love You,” Sidney Powell took to the stage Wednesday afternoon for a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Flanked by American flags and a cast of far-right personalities like Ali Alexander and Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorney Lin Wood, Powell recited her conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems, widespread voter fraud, and so-called globalist dictators.
“There is no kind of voter fraud that hasn’t been experienced this year across the country,” Powell said, before adding that she plans to submit her evidence to the Department of Justice in the near future. “We already traced a lot of the money that did this back to China. People in Iran, China, Hong Kong, and Serbia … having influence in our election system.”
“Now is the time for every patriot in this country to stand up, make their voices heard, and be counted,” Powell added. “Your children and your grandchildren deserve the very best that America has to offer.”
For the entire duration of her speech, Powell was showered with affection and gratitude from the crowd in attendance. The spectacle demonstrated that Powell has reached a near God-like status among her fans due to her affinity with several key QAnon figures and her positioning as an influential figure in the battle to secure a second term for Trump.
Despite the unfounded assertions made in Powell’s so-called Kraken lawsuits, Powell’s popularity seems to be growing at an exponential pace. Much of that lies in her longstanding allegiance to QAnon. She has been featured on popular QAnon YouTube shows as far back as November 2019 and has been known to use QAnon slogans and hashtags in her social media posts. Even her electoral fraud claims are rooted in conspiracy theories that were propagated, in part, on QAnon forums and spaces.
Powell’s popularity within the virtual cult likely began when she represented Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who was later investigated in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. Flynn, an important QAnon figure who posted a video of himself reciting the QAnon slogan “Where we go one we go all” with his family on Independence Day, is viewed as a victim of the “deep state.”
In December 2017, Flynn reached a deal to plead guilty to a felony count of making false statements to the FBI. Then, after appointing Powell to his legal team, Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea in January 2020. The Department of Justice later announced that it planned to drop all charges against Flynn, but the matter was placed on hold by a federal district judge. In the end, Flynn was issued a presidential pardon by Trump on Nov. 25, 2020.
Deemed a hero for helping Flynn, Powell already had a strong reputation as a QAnon ally prior to getting involved in the election fraud case. However, her kraken comments made her an overnight celebrity among conspiracy theorists and saw the emergence of songs, memes, and further theories about the kraken and its role in the ongoing fight to salvage Trump’s presidency.
Powell’s growing popularity has only helped embolden her unfounded claims. On Dec. 1, the attorney started a new website with Lin Wood called “Kraken Wood,” where she published a reply to Dominion Voting Systems’ statement in which she claimed that the company was “lying.”
“Know this: Any effort to hide the truth or suppress our investigation by these means will only invigorate our efforts exponentially,” Powell concluded. “The Truth will come out.”
Powell also filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin’s Eastern District, alleging “massive election fraud” in the state’s election process. The lawsuit was riddled with problems, not least of which was the fact that one of the named plaintiffs revealed that his name was used without permission.
“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Derrick Van Orden, who lost his congressional race in Wisconsin’s 3rd District, said on Twitter. “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”
According to Law and Crime, Chief U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper laid out an embarrassing number of basic errors littering the complaint, while attorneys took to social media to mock Powell’s filing.
The Kraken is clearly struggling in Wisconsin.? pic.twitter.com/mGGM7IeCmK
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) December 2, 2020
Beyond the countless blunders in her court filings, Powell has also helped to fuel conservative infighting by telling Republicans to boycott the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs during the Stop the Steal rally on Wednesday. “I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure,” Powell said before advocating the use of voter ID and paper ballots verified by thumbprint.
Powell’s comments emphasize the growing schism between establishment Republicans and Stop the Steal activists—a schism that could cost Republicans the Senate. Even Trump, who has amplified countless conspiracy theories during his time in office, reportedly found Powell “too conspiratorial” for his taste.
Having achieved near-mythical status among QAnon adherents and far-right conspiracy theorists, Powell’s sudden rise to fame is the latest example of the blurred lines between real-world politics and unrestrained imagination.
And yet, the kraken lawyer continues to spread her tentacles far and wide.