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Who is Sidney Powell?

Sidney Powell is a former lawyer who worked for Donald Trump and who pled guilty to crimes relating to her participation in the national voting machine hacking scandal perpetrated in the wake of the 2020 election, including in Coffee County, Georgia. She is a Texas-based attorney and one-time federal prosecutor who was part of the legal team that represented Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

Sidney Powell
REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Powell is one of 19 people, including Trump, who have been indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and she has been named “Co-Conspirator 3” in the federal indictment brought by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, for her role in the conspiracy to overturn the results of the election.


On October 19, 2023, Powell pled guilty to 6 criminal counts of interfering with performance of election duties in the Fulton County case.


Powell’s background

A native of Raleigh, N.C., Powell was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, before striking out on her own as an appellate lawyer.


Powell got involved in Trump’s world through his former national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, whom she represented after he pled guilty for lying to federal investigators about his inappropriate contact with Russian officials.


Why was Powell indicted?

Video and other documentary evidence indicates that Powell directed and funded unauthorized individuals from the data firm SullivanStrickler to access private areas of the Coffee County elections office in order to copy sensitive voting information, including Dominion voting machine data, and image every office hard drive. Powell was initially charged with 7 felony counts in Fulton County based on these actions.


Powell ultimately pled guilty to 6 criminal counts of conspiracy to commit interference with election duties based on these allegations. In pleading guilty, she admitted to plotting to unlawfully access secure election machines in Georgia.


As a condition of her plea deal, she agreed to offer testimony against Trump and other defendants, if the prosecutors ask her to.


The decision to plead guilty was a surprising admission of guilt from a defendant who had previously maintained that she did nothing illegal.


If successful, the machine breach scheme Powell is alleged to have helped engineer and fund could have served as a means to overturn the will of the voters in multiple states, and allowed the loser of the 2020 presidential election to unlawfully remain in power.


Powell’s Larger Involvement in the 2020 Presidential Election

In the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, Powell also filed lawsuits against Georgia and Michigan alleging “massive election fraud.” Both were dismissed. She also appeared alongside fellow indicted co-conspirators Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis at a press conference in November 2020 and made baseless claims about Venezuelan and progressive funders supposedly interfering in the election. Despite having no background in election law, Powell’s claims were regularly amplified by Trump and his allies—despite their calling the claims “crazy” when she wasn't around.


Powell played a key role in spreading unproven conspiracy theories that Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems had rigged their voting machines to take votes away from Trump. These claims were at the heart of a defamation lawsuit between Dominion and FoxNews that was settled last spring, with FoxNews having to pay Dominion $787 million for making false statements about the voting machines. In addition to her federal and Georgia indictments, Powell faces civil litigation for defamation in these cases and has faced ethics probes in two states.


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