Trump lawyer Sidney Powell flips with plea deal in Georgia election case

In a potential blow to Donald Trump, one of his former lawyers pleaded guilty on Thursday in the case alleging the former US president led a criminal conspiracy to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state of Georgia.

Sidney Powell, 68, a vocal Trump supporter who pushed outlandish conspiracy theories about foreign manipulation of voting machines, was indicted in August along with the former president and 17 others.

In a surprise deal reached just days before her trial was scheduled to begin in Atlanta, Georgia, Powell entered into a plea agreement with Fulton County prosecutors.

She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanour counts of conspiracy to interfere with the performance of election duties and was sentenced to six years of probation by Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee.


Donald Trump, 18 others indicted in Georgia for alleged bid to overturn state election results

Donald Trump, 18 others indicted in Georgia for alleged bid to overturn state election results

Powell, who was originally charged with racketeering, a felony, conspiracy to commit election fraud and other offences that threatened prison time, agreed as part of the plea deal to testify at the trials of her co-defendants in the case.

“You’re to testify truthfully against any and all co-defendants in this matter at any upcoming proceedings,” McAfee said.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Powell’s guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with prosecutors could have “critical implications for Trump”.

Trump, the front runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has pleaded not guilty to charges of involvement in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, where Democrat Joe Biden won by some 12,000 votes.

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The twice-impeached former president also faces federal charges for his efforts to upend the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters. He is to go on trial in that case in Washington in March 2024.

Powell, a former federal prosecutor, was fined US$6,000, ordered to pay restitution of US$2,700 and to write a letter of apology to the state and citizens of Georgia.

Following the November 2020 presidential election, Powell peddled preposterous theories about voting machine software allegedly designed in Venezuela under the late Hugo Chavez that “flipped” Trump votes to Biden votes.

Trump allegedly acknowledged the theories sounded “crazy” but promoted them anyway.


Giuliani dismisses Biden’s win, says lawsuits will be brought

Giuliani dismisses Biden’s win, says lawsuits will be brought

According to the Georgia indictment, Trump met Powell, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others at the White House on December 18, 2020, several weeks before the end of his term, and discussed “strategies and theories intended to influence the outcome” of the election.

Among the moves allegedly considered but eventually abandoned was naming Powell as special counsel with “broad authority to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere”.

Powell is the second co-defendant in the sprawling Georgia racketeering case to enter a guilty plea.

Scott Hall, a bail bondsman, pleaded guilty last month to five counts of conspiracy to interfere with the performance of election duties.

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Powell and Hall were both charged in connection with a scheme to tamper with voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia, following the 2020 election.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin on Monday in a joint trial of Powell and another co-defendant, Kenneth Chesebro.

Powell, nicknamed “The Kraken” after the monster from the Clash of the Titans film, and Chesebro, who is also a lawyer, had been the only two co-defendants to invoke their right to a speedy trial.

Powell earned the nickname after she threatened during a television interview to release her alleged evidence of election fraud, which she described as “the Kraken”.

Judge Scott McAfee reads a document as the lawyers for Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro appear during hearing in the election subversion case in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 11. Photo: AP

Powell is also being sued for defamation in separate cases by two voting machine companies, Dominion and Smartmatic.

Chesebro is accused of orchestrating a plan to submit fake electors to Congress in a bid to block certification of Biden’s election victory. He has pleaded not guilty.

Others indicted in Georgia include Giuliani, Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, John Eastman, a constitutional lawyer, and Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level Justice Department official.

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