Sidney Powell: A New Star In The Constellation Of Right-Wing Crackpots Conspiring To Destroy America
Yesterday, in the post about Georgia's runoffs and in reference to the Washington Post's 20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election, I promised to take a look at Trumpist crackpot Sidney Powell, a quacking psychopath on TV who appeared suddenly out of nowhere as a national laughingstock. The "20 days of fantasy and failure" post gave the outline of what a clown Powell is. The Post team reported that "In the days after the election, as Trump scrambled for an escape hatch from reality, the president largely ignored his campaign staff and the professional lawyers who had guided him through the Russia investigation and the impeachment trial, as well as the army of attorneys who stood ready to file legitimate court challenges. Instead, Trump empowered loyalists who were willing to tell him what he wanted to hear-- that he would have won in a landslide had the election not been rigged and stolen-- and then to sacrifice their reputations by waging a campaign in courtrooms and in the media to convince the public of that delusion. The effort culminated Nov. 19, when lawyers Rudolph Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell spoke on the president’s behalf at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee to allege a far-reaching and coordinated plot to steal the election for Biden. They argued that Democratic leaders rigged the vote in a number of majority-Black cities, and that voting machines were tampered with by communist forces in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan leader who died seven years ago. There was no evidence to support any of these claims."
This may be fine for the Q-Anon crowd but recent remotely "normal" Republicans were horrified by this bullshit Powell pulled out of her ass. The Post team explained that "The Venezuelan tale was too fantastical even for Trump, a man predisposed to conspiracy theories who for years has feverishly spread fiction. Advisers described the president as unsure about the latest gambit-- made worse by the fact that what looked like black hair dye mixed with sweat had formed a trail dripping down both sides of Giuliani’s face during the news conference. Trump thought the presentation made him 'look like a joke,' according to one campaign official who discussed it with him."
There we go... a rare case of Trump being right about something.
“I, like everyone else, have yet to see any evidence of it, but it’s a thriller-- you’ve got Chávez, seven years after his death, orchestrating this international conspiracy that politicians in both parties are funding,” a Republican official said facetiously. “It’s an insane story.”
Aides said the president was especially disappointed in Powell when Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News’s most-watched program, assailed her credibility on the air after she declined to provide any evidence to support her fraud claims.
Trump pushed Powell out. And, after days of prodding by advisers, he agreed to permit the General Services Administration to formally initiate the Biden transition-- a procedural step that amounted to a surrender. Aides said this was the closest Trump would probably come to conceding the election."
On Saturday, The Post decided it ws time for a deeper focus just on Powell. Aaron Davis, Josh Dawsey, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine were assigned to find out who this nut is and how she wound up on Trump's legal team. As a young North Carolina Democrat, she was a good student, completed college in less than two years and then earned a law degree to become the youngest federal prosecutor in the country. And when she moved into private practice," according to The Post team, she co-wrote a paper hailed as a 'manual' for deciphering sometimes-arcane appellate rules, salting in advice for fellow attorneys: Never 'slant' the truth to benefit a client. 'To write anything less than an accurate statement of facts can cost an attorney credibility with the court,' she wrote." OK, this is getting interesting, right? How did she go from that to the raving maniac babbling on national TV about a long dead Hugo Chávez manipulating anelection algorithm with "communist money" to alter millions of votes? Two days after the RNC debacle she was telling Newsmax she had "evidence" that she couldn't disclose that proves that Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) "had taken bribes and conspired to orchestrate Trump’s defeat" and that "thousands" of local elections officials were in on the conspiracy, not just in Georgia but everywhere.
Republican elected officials started to panic and "several" Republican called the White House to say that Powell is coming off "unhinged." Giuliani and Ellis issued a statement saying she was never part of the Trump legal team, but didn't answer the obvious question-- what was she doing with them on the state at the RNC event?
She sure hasn't stopped carrying on, delighted that Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, her most famous client. An grifter like most Republicans, she, according to The Post, "launched a fundraising effort that she said would support her work to expose fraud in the election, writing online that 'millions of dollars must be raised to defend the Republic.'" I wonder when she starts an evangelical church so she doesn't have to pay any taxes on the money the Trum[ist imbeciles send her. She's already a Q-Anon hero and right-wing the movement to boycott the Georgia runoff also holds her up as an icon. The 65 year old Powell-- once admired and respected as the president of the bar association for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals-- makes up one insane and baseless charge after another. Trumpists are eating them up. Her old friends aren't. What happened to her and what turned her into a psychopath? Her husbands kept divorcing her but it was likely her defense of the Enron criminals that turned her into a raving lunatic. The Post explained it like this:
Her client, James A. Brown, an executive of Merrill Lynch & Co., had been found guilty of several crimes in a complicated side chapter of the bankruptcy, one centered around Enron’s sale of its stake in Nigerian energy barges to the New York bank.
In 2006, after a year working his appeal, Powell and other lawyers successfully argued that the Fifth Circuit should overturn Merrill executives’ convictions on conspiracy and wire fraud charges. The appeals court let stand Brown’s convictions on perjury and obstruction... The appeals court found that there was ample evidence of Brown’s guilt.
Powell continued filing ethics complaints against members of DOJ’s Enron Task Force. Among them was Andrew Weissmann, who by then was general counsel to the FBI. The complaint against him was ultimately dismissed, Powell later wrote.
In Powell’s view, the lack of repercussions for Weissmann and others was evidence that the justice system was fundamentally broken and could not be trusted to police itself.
In 2014, she published the book Licensed to Lie, which argued that ambitious, aggressive federal prosecutors have been allowed to break the law with impunity and run roughshod over the rights of individuals and businesses.
“The prosecutors truly responsible for these injustices are not only unscathed but flourishing,” Powell wrote. “Until these prosecutors are convicted in the court of public opinion, or disbarred, these very powerful and politically connected lawyers are still licensed to lie.”
Weissmann, who was soon to become chief of the fraud section within DOJ’s criminal division, was referenced nearly 100 times in the book. On a website she set up promoting the book, she took to describing him as “a true villain” of her tale.
The book gained purchase with conservatives. In 2015, then-Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) called it “powerful” during the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, and urged her to read it. “If even half of it is true,” Hatch said, “you have a lot of work to do to clean up the department.”
But Powell saw forces at work to keep the book from becoming a mainstream hit. In 2015, she said she believed the federal government and unnamed others were deliberately suppressing its sales.
Powell claimed that Barnes & Noble refused to stock it and Amazon labeled it sold out when copies were available. “The New York Times refused to review the book, even though some noted people wanted to write a review of it,” she told an interviewer from WZAB radio in Sweetwater, Fla. “The New York Post was going to publish an article about it, but reached out to Department of Justice for comment and all of a sudden pulled the article. Been no mention of it since. No way to get through to them.”
Powell kept writing, penning a series of opinion articles for the website of the New York Observer, which was at the time owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Some of Powell’s pieces targeted long-standing foes, including Weissmann and Lynch, while others castigated Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 opponent, for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Kushner won't admit that he's the way Powell wound up on the Trump legal team but everyone in the White House knows it's true. During the Mueller investigation-- which included Weissmann as a top member of the team-- That's when Fox and Hate Talk Radio started featuring Powell, already a crackpot willing to say anything to entertain the inside the Fox bubble. That's also around the time she took over the Flynn defense (after he had plead guilty).
Powell is friendly with Ellis, the campaign attorney, according to two officials with knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump campaign. But precisely how Powell came to be a leading face of Trump’s election challenges, and onstage last week at the RNC news conference, remains a mystery even to some who have long been deeply involved in the campaign, they said.
Powell, according to a third campaign official, simply showed up at headquarters a couple of days after the election.
“She was not involved whatsoever in the conventional campaign legal structure or the RNC legal structure,” the official said. “She was totally on the outside. She had not been involved whatsoever.”
Powell, the official said, began pressing the campaign to focus suspicion on Dominion Voting Systems. She told Trump campaign officials that the Dominion strategy was ideal because it would draw into question the accuracy of voting in so many states, the official said.
The two other officials said that when Trump’s actual lawyers sought evidence from her, she produced none.
Campaign lawyers Justin Clark and Matt Morgan told others they should not present the Dominion theory because there was no evidence for it, the two officials said. The campaign official who was surprised by her sudden involvement said she did not seem interested in having the evidence.
“What you saw with Sidney Powell and Rudy, it wasn’t shoot first and ask questions later. It was shoot first and don’t ask questions at all,” that official said.
Some RNC and campaign lawyers decided to avoid all meetings where Powell was present, this person said. The night before the Nov. 19 news conference, Ellis, Giuliani, Powell-- and Flynn-- were all together, the official said.
Early the next morning, Trump tweeted a promo: “Important News Conference today by lawyers on a very clear and viable path to victory. Pieces are very nicely falling into place. RNC at 12 p.m.”