Conservative lawyer Sidney Powell, who led the fight to challenge former president Donald Trump’s 2020 loss in several states, was one of 18 people indicted alongside Trump for allegedly participating in a wide-ranging effort to overturn Georgia’s election results.
Powell is also believed to be one of the six co-conspirators listed in the Justice Department’s indictment of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Though Trump is the only person charged in the indictment, the other co-conspirators, who are not yet named in the indictment, could still face charges.
What charges does Powell face in Georgia?
Powell was charged on seven counts:
- Violation of the Georgia RICO act
- 2 counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud
- Conspiracy to commit computer theft
- Conspiracy to commit computer trespass
- Conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy
- Conspiracy to defraud the state
What does the Fulton County indictment allege?
District Attorney Fani Willis alleges that Powell illegally accessed and removed computer voting data from the Coffee County Board of Elections. In doing so, she “entered into an agreement” with a “Georgia-based forensic data firm” that she contracted to help access the data in the election equipment, the indictment alleges.
On Dec. 18, Trump and other alleged co-conspirators met and discussed ways to overturn the results of the election, according to the indictment. Among their alleged plans were appointing Powell special counsel and “seizing voting equipment.”
After that meeting, Powell emailed the firm, SullivanStrickler LLC, indicating that she and other unnamed co-conspirators should “receive a copy of all data” obtained by the firm from Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Michigan, according to the indictment.
In Georgia, the indictment alleges that Powell entered into a contract with Sullivan Strickler, whose employees set out to remove and examine voting data, from Dominion Voting Systems, tamper with electronic ballot markers and tabulating machines, and remove official ballots from Coffee County polling locations in December 2020 and January 2021.
Willis also says Powell lied in a May 2022 deposition before the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, saying that she “didn’t have any role in really setting up” the efforts to access the voting data in Coffee County or in Michigan, didn’t know what happened and couldn’t remember whether the effort was led by Giuliani or others.
What is Powell’s connection to Trump?
Powell began working for Trump’s personal legal team after he lost the 2020 election. She filed numerous unsuccessful lawsuits on his behalf, alleging voter fraud and corruption.
Trump and his team ultimately tried to publicly distance the former president from Powell after she said at a news conference she would “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” legal motion and spread falsehoods about election fraud. But Willis’ case alleges Powell continued working behind the scenes to overturn the election results.
Powell also engaged with the conspiracy theory QAnon. She was suspended from X, formerly known as Twitter, in Jan. 2021 for spreading QAnon content, and her legal defense fund accepted money from a conference featuring far-right speakers and organized by a QAnon supporter, according to the Associated Press.
What did Powell do before working for Trump?
Powell is a former federal prosecutor. She was raised in North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill early, entering the university’s law school at 19, according to POLITICO.
After graduating, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the western district district of Texas for nearly a decade, prosecuting cases along the border. In 1991, Powell became a private federal appellate lawyer; she represented some of the executives at Enron, which at the time was being sued by the Justice Department. From that experience, Powell became convinced that prosecutorial misconduct was a widespread problem, POLITICO reported in a 2020 profile.
In 2019, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, fired his legal team and hired Powell.
Powell had been arguing that the investigation was yet another example of prosecutorial overreach in collaboration with a corrupt intelligence community with the express intent of removing Trump from office.
She advised Flynn to stop cooperating with Mueller and withdraw his guilty plea. She also filed a motion to have the case dismissed that was rejected by the judge, though Flynn’s case was eventually thrown out after Trump pardoned him in Nov. 2020.
What does the federal indictment allege about Powell?
There are six co-conspirators discussed in the indictment following the investigation by special counsel Jack Smith. Powell is believed to be “co-conspirator 3,” based on the descriptions provided by prosecutors.
In the indictment, Smith describes co-conspirator 3 as “an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud [Trump] privately acknowledged to others sounded ‘crazy.’”
Powell is largely absent from the indictment, except for one section detailing her efforts to overturn the results in Georgia. Smith details Powell’s lawsuit against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, in which she falsely claimed that Dominion Voting Systems helped perpetrate “massive voter fraud.” Smith again notes that Trump publicly defended Powell’s accusations despite privately referring to them as unsupported and “crazy.”