Former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case

Sidney Powell, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, leaves the federal court in Washington, June 24, 2021. Trump-allied lawyer Sidney Powell and others hired a computer forensics team to copy data and software on election equipment in Coffee County, some 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, according to invoices, emails, security video and deposition testimony produced in response to subpoenas in a long-running lawsuit. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Lawyer Sidney Powell, one of 19 people charged alongside former President Donald Trump for attempting to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 election result, has pleaded guilty in exchange for her truthful testimony at future trials.

Powell’s trial was set to begin next week, with 450 prospective jurors ordered to report to the Fulton County courthouse on Friday.

Powell, one of the most visible campaign surrogates amplifying Trump’s false claims about widespread election fraud, was charged for directing a plan to breach sensitive voting equipment in rural Coffee County, Ga.

Originally indicted on seven felony counts, including charges of racketeering, computer trespass and conspiracy to defraud the state, Powell ultimately pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties.

Powell will be required to serve six years probation, pay a $6,000 fine and write a letter of apology to the people of Georgia. She will also be ordered to pay $2,700 in restitution to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to offset the cost of replacing the breached voting equipment.

As Trump allies searched for evidence of widespread voter fraud in the weeks after the 2020 election, prosecutors say that with the help of Atlanta IT firm SullivanStrikler, they obtained data from an election server, ballot scanners, memory cards, and voter check-in computers without authority.

An updated indictment filed Thursday with the new charges says Powell entered into the contract with SullivanStrickler and paid the firm to travel from Atlanta to Coffee County to access the election equipment.

Powell’s testimony could help prosecutors illustrate other aspects of their broad racketeering, or RICO, case, which alleges a criminal conspiracy to keep Trump in office despite his loss to Biden.

The original RICO indictment handed up in August also cites Powell’s appearance alongside co-defendants like Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at a Nov. 2020 press conference, where prosecutors say Trump surrogates made false statements about election fraud. Prosecutors also outline a Dec. 2020 meeting at the White House, where prosecutors say it was suggested that Powell be appointed as a special counsel with broad powers to investigate voter fraud in Georgia. 

In bringing a RICO case, prosecutors detail overt acts like these as they try to prove a wide-reaching conspiracy, or a pattern of people committing specific, underlying crimes in pursuit of a common goal. 

More than a dozen co-defendants have not accepted deals, including Trump.

Defense attorney Bob Rubin, who has defended clients in several high-profile RICO cases, says Powell’s plea is a very big deal.

“Look, if Sidney Powell’s coming into court saying I said a lot of these things, in my heart of hearts, I knew they weren’t true, and when I spoke to Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, they knew these things were not true, but they encouraged me to keep saying these things, I mean that’s the case.”

Now, we don’t know what Powell will say, though prosecutors likely do. They recorded an interview with her on Wednesday.

In a statement to WABE, Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead counsel in Georgia, wrote that, “Assuming truthful testimony in the Fulton County case, it will be favorable to my defense strategy.” 

Powell first came to prominence following a Nov. 2020 interview on Fox. She said the Trump campaign had a trove of evidence proving widespread voter fraud.

“I’m going to release the Kraken,” Powell said, referencing a 1981 movie, “Clash of the Titans.”

Trump’s supporters quickly amplified the comments online, but the evidence was never produced.

Powell is the second co-defendant to agree to a plea deal. Bail bondsman Scott Hall, who helped access the voting equipment, pleaded guilty in September in exchange for his testimony. 

Coffee County GOP official Cathleen Latham and former Coffee County elections director Misty Hampton have also been charged in Fulton County’s sweeping racketeering case.

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who suggested the plan to submit slates of electors for Trump in swing states where Joe Biden had been declared the winner, is still set to go to trial in Georgia next week. 

A trial date has yet to be set for the other co-defendants.

This is a developing story.