Sidney Powell has made groundless claims of a plot to steal reelection from President Donald Trump. It's not the first conspiracy theory she's spread.
- Sidney Powell, an attorney on the Trump campaign's legal team seeking to subvert the presidential election result, has a history of spreading conspiracy theories.
- At a wild press conference Thursday, she alleged a vast plot involving the Venezuelan government and the financier George Soros to steal the election from President Donald Trump.
- Powell has rejected requests for evidence to back her claims.
- While representing Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor, she alleged, groundlessly, that he was being persecuted by "deep state" officials.
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Sidney Powell, an attorney for the Trump campaign, shot to prominence on Thursday, alleging at a press conference that President Donald Trump's enemies were working to steal the election from him as part of a vast conspiracy.
Powell claimed the socialist Venezuelan government and the liberal financier George Soros — a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories — were part of the plot but has rejected requests for any proof to substantiate her claim.
Her allegations Thursday align with Powell's previous work as a lawyer for Michael Flynn and as a public supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Flynn was Trump's first national security advisor and was investigated as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia inquiry.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 19, 2020
Politico in a 2019 profile reported that during her career Powell had switched from prosecuting federal cases to campaigning against prosecutorial overreach.
"It was when her cause came to align with Trump's and Flynn's plight as targets of Mueller's probe that she worked her way into a deep state-hating, MAGA-loving network that landed her a high-profile client," the outlet said.
Even before representing Flynn, she had expressed support for QAnon, which groundlessly alleges that a Satanic cabal of child-abusing Democrats and Hollywood stars secretly manipulates world events. The conspiracy theory is embraced by a large swath of Trump supporters and even some GOP lawmakers.
Flynn is one of the heroes of the QAnon movement and has used QAnon slogans and hashtags in an apparent signal of allegiance.
Powell has likewise long shared QAnon slogans on social media, making her one of the first high-profile Trump supporters to back the movement.
—Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) June 12, 2019
While representing Flynn, Powell pushed the conspiracy theory, in opinion articles and Fox News interviews, that the Mueller investigation was a plot by "deep state" officials to unseat Trump.
Alex Kaplan, a researcher in disinformation at the progressive nonprofit Media Matters, noted that in November 2019, a year before her appearance at the Trump campaign press conference, Powell was interviewed on a popular QAnon YouTube channel.
—Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) November 20, 2019
Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials. Mueller recommended that he serve no prison time in recognition of his cooperation with investigators.
After appointing Powell as his counsel, Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea. His case was ultimately dropped by the Department of Justice in May, prompting accusations of cronyism against Attorney General Bill Barr and calls for his resignation by more than 1,000 former DOJ officials.
Powell is now redeploying the playbook she used to defend Flynn, this time to stir suspicion of the election result that the Trump campaign is pushing to overhaul, in a bid experts think has essentially no chance of success.
As well her claims Thursday, Powell has claimed some election machines used in US elections were designed specifically to rig election races in Latin America, a claim rebutted by the fact-checking site PolitiFact.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.