NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

Dallas attorney Sidney Powell appears to be 'co-conspirator' in new Trump indictment

FILE - Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga. Nine lawyers, including Powell, allied with former President Donald Trump face financial penalties and other sanctions after a judge Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, said they had abused the court system with a lawsuit that challenged Michigan's election results that certified Joe Biden as the winner.
Ben Margot
/
AP
FILE - Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga. Nine lawyers, including Powell, allied with former President Donald Trump face financial penalties and other sanctions after a judge Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, said they had abused the court system with a lawsuit that challenged Michigan's election results that certified Joe Biden as the winner.

Dallas attorney Sidney Powell appears to be one of six unnamed co-conspirators which the Justice Department accused Tuesday of playing key roles in former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Though she is not named in the four-count indictment filed against Trump, the Justice Department makes numerous references to a “co-conspirator 3” whose description matches Powell, a prominent election fraud conspiracy theorist whose role in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been well documented.

The Justice Department’s 45-page indictment described “co-conspirator 3” as an attorney who filed a lawsuit against the governor of Georgia alleging “massive election fraud” on Nov. 25, 2020 — the same day that Powell filed a lawsuit in Georgia alleging voter fraud. That lawsuit, the indictment said, was dismissed on Dec. 7 — the same day that Powell’s lawsuit was dismissed.

The indictment also alleged that Trump continued to publicly promote co-conspirator 3’s election fraud claims despite privately calling them “crazy,” a comment that Rolling Stone previously reported was made regarding Powell’s false claims about foreign intervention to secretly rig the election and manipulate voting machines to help President Joe Biden.

The Justice Department alleged that and other comments by Trump show that he knowingly pushed false claims about widespread election fraud as part of a broader scheme to undermine a “bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”

Powell could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening. Her role in spreading election misinformation has been well known and documented by journalists, as well as in her interview with the Jan. 6 House Select Committee that later recommended Trump to the Justice Department for charges including conspiracy to defraud the government.

Despite having no background in election law or security, Powell’s claims about the 2020 contest were routinely amplified by Trump and others. She played a key role in spreading the baseless conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems had rigged its voting machines to take votes from Trump — claims that were at the heart of a $787 million defamation lawsuit settlement between Dominion and FoxNews.

Dominion is separately suing Powell over her claims, and the State Bar of Texas previously sought disciplinary action against her for her election claims, though that case was tossed due to what the judge called “defects” in filings by state regulators. The bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline has asked the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals to reinstate its lawsuit, arguing that Powell violated state ethical requirements by presenting knowingly false statements and false evidence in court when challenging the election results.

Powell is a former federal prosecutor and defense attorney who represented a banker in the Enron scandal. Her foray into election fraud conspiracies dates back to at least 2018, when she met in an airplane hangar with a Dallas-based businessman and failed congressional candidate, Russell Ramsland, to promote the idea that voting machines in Texas were being rigged against Republican candidates.

Powell told Congressional investigators that she stayed in touch with Ramsland, whose Dallas-based cybersecurity company would in 2020 produce a report that falsely alleged there were inconsistent vote tallies in numerous states that used Dominion voting machines — claims that were then amplified by Powell, FoxNews and Trump, despite objections by then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr and other Trump administration officials.

Powell, Trump and others also reportedly discussed taking “dramatic steps” to overturn the election — including using the military to seize voting machines — and Trump at one point considered naming Powell as a special counsel to oversee an investigation into voter fraud, a move that was opposed by other administration officials.

She also reportedly facilitated communication between FoxNews and a woman who claimed that Dominion had converted 3% of its votes from Trump to Biden, that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered during a “weeklong human hunting campaign” and that she was an “internally decapitated” “ghost” who communicated with the wind. Despite the woman’s bizarre claims, Powell and FoxNews used her as a key source in their election denial coverage.

Powell has stood by her actions, telling the Jan. 6 committee that she believed there was widespread voter fraud and that the Capitol siege was orchestrated by “antifa” or the FBI rather than Trump supporters.