Former president Donald Trump was at the center of the criminal charges filed this week related to his attempts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, but he was not alone: 18 other people were indicted with Trump under racketeering charges brought by a grand jury convened by Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis. Right Wing Watch is publishing profiles of some of Trump’s fellow indictees.
Sidney Powell, Attorney, Conspiracy Theorist, “Kraken” Releaser
- Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.
- Criminal attempt to commit filing false documents;
- Conspiracy to commit election fraud;
- Conspiracy to commit computer theft;
- Conspiracy to commit computer trespass;
- Conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy; and
- Conspiracy to defraud the state.
Vox’s Andrew Prokop took a deeper look at those conspiracies, including Powell’s connection to a scheme involving a county GOP chair—also a fake elector—and a Georgia bail bondsman to access county voting equipment and data.
This isn’t Powell’s first brush with accountability for her work to overturn the 2020 election. She was sanctioned by a federal judge for making deceptive claims and undermining faith in democracy. (Just this month, the Sixth Circuit Court denied her request to reconsider an earlier decision upholding most of the sanctions imposed on Powell and fellow attorney Lin Wood.) Powell has also been sued by Dominion Voting Systems.
Powell, a lawyer with a serious demeanor, often showed supreme confidence in her unprovable claims. “President Trump won this election in a landslide,” Powell said during an interview with Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs on Nov. 13, 2020. “It’s going to be irrefutable.”
During one press conference she claimed that Dominion Voting Systems machines had been created in Venezuela to manipulate elections in favor of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In another press conference in Atlanta, she stood with Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander and Kyle Rittenhouse attorney Lin Wood and claimed, “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.” She filed an affidavit citing prominent QAnon figure Ron Watkins, who had no expertise with electronic voting systems.
Powell repeatedly vowed to “release the Kraken”—evidence that she claimed would lead to a “massive criminal investigation” that would overturn election results in several states. In reality, Powell’s assertions about international plots and rigged voting machines were probably the reason one White House insider dubbed a group of Trump’s most rabid advocates “Team Crazy.” Her court filings were riddled with blunders, including the inclusion of a plaintiff in Wisconsin who said he had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Powell’s claims even became too much for the likes of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Jenna Ellis, who distanced themselves from her before the end of November. But with Trump facing shrinking options and a diminishing number of people who would tell him what he wanted to hear, Powell was back in the White House the following month, urging Trump to make her a special counsel to investigate election fraud. One revelation from the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings was that Trump may have informally given her that title, but never followed through with steps to make it official. It was after that meeting that Trump tweeted a call to his supporters to show up at a rally on Jan. 6, promising that it would “be wild!”
Powell had previously represented National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, before Trump pardoned him, when he was trying to withdraw his guilty plea to charges of lying to the FBI. The association with Flynn gave Powell credibility within the MAGA movement, as did her track record going back to 2019 of using QAnon slogans and hashtags in social media.
Like Ellis, Powell was admired by Trump’s religious-right supporters. In a Dec. 2020 prayer call with religious-right dominionists hoping to keep Trump in power, Flynn called Powell a “spiritual warrior” and his and America’s “guardian angel of justice.” Religious-right author and broadcaster Eric Metaxas assured prayer call participants that the Stop the Steal movement was in the hands of “serious Christians” like Powell, Ellis, and Wood.
Powell heads an advocacy nonprofit called Defending the Republic, which reportedly helped fund the legal defense for some Oath Keepers charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The group distributes a newsletter by the same name, which among other things, has helped promote the 1776 PAC’s support for right-wing school board takeovers. On Wednesday, the newsletter took note of her indictment, adding:
For the past three years, Sidney has been fighting all manner of lawfare against her because she stood up for millions of Americans who knew there was fraud in the 2020 elections.
She filed four federal lawsuits to seek the truth. She filed those suits on behalf of the electors and the voters. The left wants to destroy her.
The battle continues.
Powell may have inadvertently contributed to the health of our democracy by telling Georgia Republicans during a Stop the Steal rally that they should threaten to boycott the upcoming Senate runoff campaigns unless officials acted to ensure that their votes would be secure. The dual victories of Democratic Sens. Raphael Warner and Jon Ossoff in those runoff elections took control of the U.S. Senate out of the hands of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, making it possible for President Biden and Senate Democrats to confirm the most diverse group of highly qualified federal judges ever named to the bench.
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