‘Kraken’ Trump lawyer Sidney Powell flipped her plea to guilty in 2020 election RICO case

Powell filed a suit in Arizona that was skewered by a judge for a total lack of evidence

By: - October 20, 2023 10:28 am

Texas attorney Sidney Powell would embark on a public campaign in Georgia and other states of unleashing accusations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump. Photo by Ross Williams | Georgia Recorder

Texas attorney Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to election interference charges in Fulton County Superior Court on Thursday, one day before jury selection was scheduled to begin for her trial.

As part of the plea deal, Powell was sentenced to six years of probation for conspiring to interfere with the performance of election duties for orchestrating a Coffee County elections system breach following the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, Powell became the second defendant to have the terms of a plea agreement accepted by Fulton Judge Scott McAfee in a sweeping case that alleges Donald Trump and 18 of his allies illegally colluded to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, Nevada,  Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Washington, D.C.

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On Friday, her co-defendant and fellow Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, also pleaded guilty to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. The plea came in just hours after jury selection began ahead of a trial that was planned for next month.

According to the plea agreement, Powell agreed to testify in other election interference trials about the hacking of voting machines and software that occurred in rural south Georgia shortly after the incumbent Republican president lost the state of Georgia by less than 12,000 votes to Democratic President Joe Biden.

In the weeks following Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss in Georgia, Powell peppered the courts with filings claiming election fraud, she dubbed the “Kraken” legal challenge at the time. She filed one such lawsuit in Arizona, where a federal court judge swiftly dismissed it for “sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence” to back up implausible claims of massive election fraud, which included allegations of foreign espionage along with more mundane accusations of illegally cast ballots.

Powell has written an apology to the secretary of state’s office and Georgia residents. She will also pay a $6,000 fine as well as $2,700 in restitution to the state. On Aug. 14, a grand jury formally charged Powell with seven felony charges in which the 19 defendants were each charged with violating Georgia’s RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Prosecutors said that by successfully completing all terms of her probation, Powell’s conviction of six counts of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit intentional interference with election duties will be sealed from her criminal record.

Emory University Law professor Fred Smith Jr. said Powell’s guilty plea wasn’t surprising since most defendants in state criminal court reach plea agreements with prosecutors.

As part of her plea Powell also provide prosecutors with a recorded proffer interview in which she describes her involvement in the case.

“If she says something inconsistent while testifying, (prosecutors) will be able to use that video to undermine her credibility,” Smith said.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Chesebro acknowledged Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election were based on a political agenda, a revelation that could undercut Chesebro’s claims in the Fulton case that Trump lawyers were only focused on legal advice.

Voting breach takes front stage

Powell admitted Thursday that she hired forensic computer experts to compromise voting software and other confidential voter information from the Coffee County elections office in early 2021. She also agreed that prosecutors would have proven during trial that Powell, along with several co-conspirators, plotted with Coffee County elections director Misty Hampton to illegally access election machines by tampering with electronic ballot markers, voting software and other equipment.

In the weeks before Powell pleaded guilty, her attorney Bill Rafferty repeatedly argued that she had no direct involvement in setting up the visits to the Coffee elections office.

One of Powell’s co-defendants, Scott Hall, a bail bondsman from Atlanta, entered a plea of guilty on Sept. 29 and received five years probation and $5,000 fine for misdemeanor charges related to illegally accessing voting equipment in Coffee County.

Powell is also being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for her role in hacking into Coffee County’s election system.

The breach was uncovered last year by the plaintiffs in a longstanding lawsuit challenging the security of the state’s electronic voting system. Earlier this month, the GBI discovered more than 15,000 emails and documents from Hampton’s desktop computer that the attorneys for the Coffee County Board of Elections had claimed were lost.

Hampton has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in the Fulton racketeering case.

This story was originally published by the Georgia Recorder, a sister publication of the Arizona Mirror and a member of the States Newsroom network of local news organizations.

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Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder
Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.

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