Sidney Powell pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case

Sidney Powell finally delivered a real “Kraken on steroids” in the 2020 election saga. Only this time, it won’t prove that the election got stolen — it will help Fani Willis build her RICO case against Donald Trump and 17 other co-defendants in Fulton County, Georgia.

Trump’s key election attorney and architect of “Stop the Steal” cut a surprising plea deal this morning. Powell will get probation for six misdemeanor guilty pleas and testimony against her co-defendants.

From the Associated Press:

Lawyer Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to reduced charges Thursday over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia, becoming the second defendant in the sprawling case to reach a deal with prosecutors.

Powell, who was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law, entered the plea just a day before jury selection was set to start in her trial. She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors accusing her of conspiring to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties.

As part of the deal, she will serve six years of probation, will be fined $6,000 and will have to write an apology letter to Georgia and its residents. She also recorded a statement for prosecutors and agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants at future trials.

Powell was initially charged with racketeering and six other counts as part of a wide-ranging scheme to keep the Republican president in power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors say she also participated in an unauthorized breach of elections equipment in a rural Georgia county elections office.

The plea deal makes Powell the most prominent known person to be working with prosecutors investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Her cooperation in the case and participation in strategy talks threaten to expose the former president and offer insight on what he was saying and doing in the critical period after the election.

Note that the agreement requires her to “testify truthfully” against all her co-defendants, as well as to refrain from media appearances until the end of the trials. Needless to say, that’s a stunning reversal for Powell, who seemed at one time to be the truest of True Believers in Stop the Steal. Willis clearly calculated the broad RICO indictment to flip some of the defendants against Trump, but Powell is likely the closest possible figure to the former president in this indictment, save Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows. And we know that Powell and Giuliani worked closely together on election issues.

It’s tough to overestimate the win Willis got in flipping Powell. As one of the organizers of the Stop the Steal effort, Powell can testify to the intent and purpose of the “racket,” as well as the specific involvement of each member in specific acts to further the alleged fraud. That danger probably impacts Giuliani most, but if Powell had the kind of access to Trump that she claimed, he’s now got a yuuuge problem on his hands. Plus, given Powell’s outsize role in promoting the Stop the Steal campaign, her flip instantly undercuts those who still support those claims, in Georgia and everywhere else. Don’t forget that Powell fronted those efforts not just in Georgia but also in Michigan, Nevada, and other states. The plea deal seems to indicate a requirement to cooperate in those investigations and others as well.

Powell’s potential reach in this case is so deep that it might start a cascade of flips. One of the peripheral figures in the indictment flipped already — Scott Hall, who was involved in the Coffee County ‘hack’ in which Powell was directly connected. Kenneth Chesebro, Powell’s co-defendant that got blindsided today at the start of his trial with her plea deal, had earlier refused to accept a deal, but may be persuaded now to get out while he can. Others on the periphery of the “racket” may be inclined to do the same, especially if they worked at all with Powell.

The more central figures like Meadows and Giuliani may realize that they now risk actual prison time if they refuse to cooperate. That risk increases as more people flip, because prosecutors offer the best deals to the first defendants to accept deals. If either Meadows or Giuliani decide to cut bait and plea out, their only value to Willis will be in fingering Trump for fraud and interference — and their testimony could prove devastating to Trump not just legally but politically as well. If Powell and others testify that Trump knew he’d lost and attempted to obstruct the election results anyway — which we don’t know Powell will do yet — that would be a bombshell in the 2024 nomination process. Or even a Kraken on steroids.

Of course, all of the above could choose to stand pat and take their chances at trial. When only Scott Hall had flipped, they had a decent chance of beating the rap. If Powell’s talking, though, those odds don’t look so good now.

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