Six of Hearts: Sidney Powell, Trump Co-Conspirator #3, pleads guilty over efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia


From her lips to your ears, folks:


“Did I know anything about election law?”


“I need six to eight pardons.”


“Supreme Court allows sanctions against Trump-allied lawyers over 2020 election lawsuit”

NBC News:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected appeals brought by Trump-allied lawyers who faced legal sanctions for baselessly alleging in court that the 2020 election in Michigan was fraudulently won by President Joe Biden.

By rejecting the appeals, the court left in place a June 2023 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that partially upheld the sanctions.

Prominent cheerleaders of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood were among the nine lawyers who initially faced sanctions for filing the lawsuit. Powell called the group “the Kraken.”…

“I Need Six to Eight Pardons”: Sidney Powell’s Secret Scheme to “Find” Trump’s Votes

Even Rudy Giuliani thought her plan to seek blanket immunity, before breaching Georgia voting machines, was “over the top,” according to a new book by reporters Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.

As allies of Donald Trump schemed to seize voting machines in swing states after the 2020 election, Sidney Powell proposed issuing preemptive pardons—which the team described as “hunting licenses”—to shield them from legal liability, according to a new book by investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.

“I need six to eight pardons,” the former Trump attorney said in a Virginia planning meeting, according to Find Me the Votes, excerpts of which were reviewed by Vanity Fair ahead of its January 30 publication date. “What we need is a ‘hunting license’ that provides top cover for ops,” a member of Powell’s team wrote to Lin Wood, another Trump lawyer involved in the effort to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, according to Isikoff and Klaidman.

According to Isikoff and Klaidman, the team asked Michael Trimarco, an associate of Rudy Giuliani’s, to get the former New York City mayor to approve the pardon proposal. But Giuliani “dismissed the idea as over the top,” according to the book. Trimarco apparently agreed, recalling that he thought, “What the fuck?” as the group mulled the idea.

Nevertheless, Giuliani, Powell, and other Trump allies would work to seize Dominion voting machines in an illicit effort to prove the election had been “stolen” by the Democrats. “We got a big project working in Georgia right now,” Giuliani said on Steve Bannon’s podcast on December 19. Three weeks later, on January 7—the day after a MAGA mob stormed Capitol Hill to prevent the certification of Biden’s win—Trump supporters breached the voting system in Coffee County, Georgia.

“Trump’s operatives were so obsessed with proving their theories that they were willing to go to extreme, even extra-legal lengths to get their hands on the evidence,” Isikoff and Klaidman write.

Powell and 18 others, including Trump and Giuliani, would eventually be charged in the racketeering case brought last year by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis. In October, Powell pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties; Trump has maintained his innocence, and Giuliani has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. (Representatives for Powell, Giuliani, and the Trump campaign did not return Vanity Fair’s request for comment. Wood, who was named as a state’s witness in the Fulton County case in September, said in an email that he does “not recall” receiving an email about the so-called hunting licenses and that he had “no involvement” in the matter.)

The Georgia case is one of four Trump is facing as he runs to return to power. But the proceedings have been thrown into uncertainty amid recent allegations that Willis was romantically involved with Nathan Wade, a consultant she hired to work as a special prosecutor in the election subversion case. (Vanity Fair has reached out to Wade and Willis for comment.)


Apology letters by Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro in Georgia election case are one sentence long

Updated December 14, 2023

ATLANTA (AP) — The apology letters that Donald Trump-allied lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro were required to write as a condition of their plea deals in the Georgia election interference case are just one sentence long.

The letters, obtained Thursday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request, were hand-written and terse. Neither letter acknowledges the legitimacy of Democrat Joe Biden’s win in Georgia’s 2020 election nor denounces the baseless conspiracy theories they pushed to claim Trump was cheated out of victory through fraud.

“I apologize for my actions in connection with the events in Coffee County,” Powell wrote in a letter dated Oct. 19, the same day she pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors accusing her of conspiring to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties.

“I apologize to the citizens of the state of Georgia and of Fulton County for my involvement in Count 15 of the indictment,” Chesebro wrote in a letter dated Oct. 20, when he appeared in court to plead guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

Powell and Chesebro were among four defendants to plead guilty in the case after reaching agreements with prosecutors. They were indicted alongside Trump and others in August and charged with participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally keep the Republican in power. The remaining 15 defendants — including Trump, lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have all pleaded not guilty.

Each of the four who reached a deal with prosecutors received a sentence that included probation but no jail time. They were also allowed to plead guilty under Georgia’s first offender law, meaning that if they complete their probation without violating the terms or committing another crime, their records will be wiped clean.

The letters written by the other two defendants to plead guilty — Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis and bail bondsman Scott Hall — were longer and more specific. Ellis read her letter in open court on Oct. 24, tearfully telling the judge that she looked back on her involvement in challenging the election results with “deep remorse.”

“What I did not do but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true,” she said. “In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states, including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence.”

Hall, who pleaded guilty Sept. 29, wrote in his five-paragraph letter to the citizens of Georgia, “I owe you an apology.”

“I wish I had never involved myself in the post-election activities that brought me before the court,” he wrote, explaining that he got involved after observing what he thought were some irregularities.

Powell was initially charged with felony racketeering and six other felony counts.

Prosecutors allege that she conspired with Hall and others to access election equipment without authorization and hired computer forensics firm SullivanStrickler to send a team to Coffee County, in south Georgia, to copy software and data from voting machines and computers there. The indictment says a person who is not named sent an email to a top SullivanStrickler executive and instructed him to send all data copied from Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Coffee County to an unidentified lawyer associated with Powell and the Trump campaign.

Chesebro was initially charged with felony racketeering and six other felony counts.

Prosecutors allege that he unlawfully conspired with Trump and lawyers associated with his campaign to have the group of Georgia Republicans sign the false elector certificate and to submit it to various federal authorities. He also communicated with Trump campaign lawyers and Republican leaders in other swing states won by Biden to get those states to submit false slates of electors as well, prosecutors alleged.

Ellis pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She had been charged with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law and soliciting the violation of oath by a public officer, both felonies.

The indictment in the sweeping case details a number of accusations against Ellis, including that she helped author plans on how to disrupt and delay congressional certification of the 2020 election’s results on Jan. 6, 2021, the day a mob of Trump supporters eventually overran the U.S. Capitol. And she’s accused of urging state legislators to back false, pro-Trump electors in multiple states.

Hall pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts for his role in accessing Coffee County elections equipment.



‘The boss is not going to leave’: Proffer videos show ex-Trump lawyers telling Georgia prosecutors about efforts to overturn 2020 election

ABC News obtained video from interviews held with Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

November 13, 2023,


Powell, meanwhile, explained to prosecutors her plans for seizing voting machines nationwide and claimed that she frequently communicated with Trump during her efforts to overturn the 2020 election — though both now claim she was never his attorney.

In the session, Powell reiterated the false assertion that Trump won the election — but acknowledged in the video that she didn’t know much about election law to begin with.

“Did I know anything about election law? No,” she told Fulton County prosecutors. “But I understand fraud from having been a prosecutor for 10 years, and knew generally what the fraud suit should be if the evidence showed what I thought it showed.”


“How a nullified election in Connecticut became a rallying cry for Trump supporters”

Former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who filed frivolous lawsuits in 2020 in hopes of overturning the results, posted about the Bridgeport scandal and celebrated the fact that “a court with integrity looks at evidence and orders new election!” and included the hashtag #elections2024. She pleaded guilty last month to state crimes in Georgia stemming from her separate attempts to interfere with the 2020 election results.

And one of the organizers of the infamous Trump rally on January 6, 2021, Amy Kremer, connected Bridgeport to the last presidential election, falsely claiming “we had the same type of evidence on a much larger scale” in 2020. She has continued fanning the flames of supposed fraud and is calling for “audits in every county” in Kentucky, in response to the state’s Democratic governor winning re-election on Tuesday.


Dominion’s Fox News Case Was Just the Beginning

“The truth was in Fox’s inbox,” says one lawyer behind the blockbuster April settlement, as the company’s suits against Rudy Giuliani, Newsmax, and more keep moving through the courts.

The 2024 presidential contest is well underway, but teams of lawyers are still poring over the 2020 election, and for a very good reason: They are trying to hold Donald Trump’s allies accountable for the damage done by their election lies. Civil lawsuits by companies like Dominion Voting Systems are progressing at the same time that Trump is facing criminal trials in multiple jurisdictions. “We have so much work ahead of us,” Stephen Shackelford says on this week’s episode of Inside the Hive.

Shackelford was one of the lead attorneys in Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News, which resulted in the media giant paying $787.5 million in April to settle that case. According to Davida Brook, another one of the lead attorneys, Dominion has “lawsuits pending against Newsmax, One America News, Mike Lindell and MyPillow, Sidney Powell and her law firm, Rudy Giuliani, and Patrick Byrne.” Those cases, she says, are “all proceeding towards trial.”

Host Brian Stelter interviewed Shackelford and Brook multiple times for his new book, Network of Lies, which hits shelves November 14. (Vanity Fair recently published an excerpt from the book about Tucker Carlson’s abrupt exit.) On Inside the Hive, Stelter shares some of his reporting from the book and asks the attorneys about the pending cases. Shackelford says Dominion was “put through hell” by Trump’s election lies in 2020—“hell that continues to this day.”

Brook says the ongoing litigation is about “setting the record straight”—which is what Dominion’s PR representatives called their fact-checking emails that Fox received in November 2020. “The truth was in Fox’s inbox,” Shackelford says. And yet Fox stars like Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs hyped conspiracy theories about Dominion instead.

The lawyers are now preparing for depositions. The suits are moving more slowly than the Fox case “because most of them are in DC, and the DC courts are very busy, still to this day, with a lot of the January 6 cases,” Shackelford says. The courts in Delaware, where Dominion sued Fox, “have traditionally moved at a quicker pace.” Dominion’s case against Newsmax is poised for a September 2024 trial in Delaware—if there is no settlement first. “We’ve got a long road ahead to finish up this work for Dominion,” Shackelford says.

Another election technology company, Smartmatic, is also suing Fox, Newsmax, and other defendants. “Smartmatic is a global company that was injured on a global scale,” attorney J. Erik Connolly told Stelter for the book. “The damages are much bigger.” Fox, which denies any wrongdoing, has dismissed Smartmatic’s damages claims as “implausible, disconnected from reality, and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”

This article has been updated.


What Sidney Powell’s Deal Could Mean for the Fulton County Case Against Trump

“I think there are a lot of people who are in more trouble than they were before.”

Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Daysha Young read aloud in court the facts prosecutors would have presented against Powell at trial, describing how Powell entered into a conspiracy with several co-defendants in the case. The purpose of the conspiracy, Young said, was to unlawfully access election machines in Coffee County. At the center of the conspiracy, Young argued, was Powell’s move to retain Sullivan Strickler, an Atlanta-based cyber-forensics firm — an effort that was first publicly revealed by the Post.

Her testimony could reveal whether others in Trump’s orbit were involved with or aware of the scheme. There are some clues about ways Powell may be able to link members of Trump’s inner circle to the far-fetched effort. In a December 2020 email — which was read aloud during a deposition taken by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack — Powell seems to have kept Meadows — another defendant in the Georgia case — apprised of efforts to access voting software in various states.

“Georgia machine access promised in meeting Friday night,” part of the email read. A lawyer for Meadows did not respond to a request for comment.


Sidney Powell pleads guilty over efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia and agrees to cooperate


ATLANTA (AP) — 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.


Just Security
Date: September 15, 2023
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee yesterday ruled that former President Trump will not be tried alongside two of his co-defendants who requested a speedy trial for next month in the Georgia election interference case. Severing the trial of Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro from that of Trump and the other co-defendants was a “procedural and logistical inevitability,” McAfee said. Jan Wolfe and Mariah Timms report for the Wall Street Journal.


Trump attorneys guided false electors in Georgia, GOP chair says

In Tuesday’s filing, Shafer underscored that the strategy was driven almost entirely by lawyers acting on Trump’s behalf.  The false electors were later used by Trump allies to attempt to foment a conflict on Jan. 6, 2021 and derail the transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Shafer is among the 18 defendants indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, alongside Trump as part of a conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election.


Donald Trump and His Allies in Georgia

As Trump and his 18 co-defendants surrendered to Fulton County authorities, they were processed like anyone else

By Kyler Alvord and Virginia Chamlee


Attorney Sidney Powell was a vocal Donald Trump ally in the weeks after the 2020 election, often appearing alongside Giuliani to espouse bizarre conspiracy theories, including that voting systems in the U.S. actually had ties to the late Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez and were in fact secretly capable of switching, creating and destroying massive amounts of votes.

According to the indictment, Powell was in direct contact with the Trump supporters who illegally breached election equipment in Coffee County, Georgia. Prosecutors argue that Powell tried to access voting data in the county to support the conspiracy theory that Trump had won the election, at one point even having a computer forensics team copy data and software from elections equipment there on Jan. 7, 2021 — one day after the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Powell faces seven felony charges: violating the Georgia RICO Act, two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state. Her bond was set at $100,000.


Trump infighting risks rise as allies face legal bills, cash crunch

The multiplying charges brought against allies of former President Trump and their mounting legal fees are creating consternation in Trump world — while presenting a real risk to the former president.

Trump has burned through millions of dollars in donor money to pay for legal fees as he defends himself against charges in New York City, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

But the former president, who has built a reputation for stiffing workers, has shown no interest in providing financial aid to former aides charged over their efforts to keep him in power. 

Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has listed his Manhattan apartment for sale, and several Trump allies have launched crowdfunding campaigns to pay for their defenses.

Some of those who face charges in Georgia have been released on bond agreements totaling as much as $100,000. 

The growing bills have already prompted complaints that Trump isn’t footing the bill.

“I was reliably informed Trump isn’t funding any of us who are indicted,” onetime Trump attorney Jenna Ellis wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Would this change if he becomes the nominee? Why then, not now? I totally agree this has become a bigger principle than just one man. So why isn’t MAGA, Inc. funding everyone’s defense?”

As Trump’s aid to allies trickles, some warn failing to take on their legal bills could come back to haunt him if associates seek to cooperate with prosecutors. 

“He has no legal obligation to pay anybody’s fees. Moral? Perhaps,” said Tim Parlatore, who represented Trump in the Mar-a-Lago case and has represented Bernard Kerik, a Giuliani associate, in dealing with the federal and Georgia cases related to Jan. 6.

“But it’s a good idea because here’s what DOJ does. DOJ obviously they have, I hesitate to say the word limitless resources, but pretty close. And one of their standard tactics is to bleed the defendant and witnesses dry,” he added. “And once they can bleed you dry to where all of your life savings have been sucked up by somebody like me … then you’re far more pliable and willing to plead guilty to just about anything to stop the bleeding.”

In other cases, Trump has provided attorneys or covered bills for those swept up in the investigations, including in the Mar-a-Lago probe where special counsel Jack Smith’s team spoke with numerous employees who work at the property.

That now includes covering the legal bills of Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, who are accused of helping Trump obstruct justice by moving boxes of classified documents and later conspiring to delete security camera footage from the property.

The superseding indictment noted a discussion around making sure “Carlos is good” and that Trump promised to get him an attorney.

But the mounting Jan. 6-related cases are being handled differently as defendants are added to the list.

A MAGA Inc. official declined to respond to Ellis’s suggestion that the super PAC fund her legal costs, noting the organization has not done so for any other individuals.

Save America, a committee Trump launched after the 2020 election that fundraised off claims of the election being stolen, was the primary committee that helped pay down the former president’s legal bills, according to campaign finance reports. 

Ellis, attorney John Eastman and former Justice Department official Jeff Clark have launched crowdfunding pages where they are collecting donations for what is described as their respective legal defense funds. All three pages frame the beneficiaries as victims of politically motivated attacks.

All three were charged in Georgia, and Eastman and Clark are believed to be among the six unindicted co-conspirators described in the federal case against Trump in Washington for his efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

“Donald’s an idiot,” Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told CNN. “Let me just be very clear: When it comes to paying money, he is truly an idiot. He has not learned yet that … three people you don’t want to throw under the bus like that: your lawyer, your doctor and your mechanic. Because one way or the other, you’re going to go down the hill, and there’ll be no brakes.”

He mused that Giuliani could present the biggest risk for Trump. Although he’s facing charges in Georgia, he has yet to be indicted in the federal Jan. 6 case, despite being listed as a co-conspirator.

“Allegedly, from Rudy’s own mouth, he claims that he has smoking gun information about Donald,” Cohen said, adding later, “He’s going to need to speak, and he’s going to need to speak before everybody else does.”

Giuliani is facing some of the steepest debts as his cases pile up.

Beyond the two criminal cases tied to Jan. 6, he’s also facing three defamation suits related to comments he made while seeking to help Trump unwind the 2020 results — two from voting equipment companies and another from a mother-daughter duo serving as election workers in Georgia. He’s also facing disbarment proceedings in New York and Washington, matters in which he also has secured attorneys. 

In recent proceedings in the cases, Guiliani’s attorneys have noted his inability to pay for bills, as well as the apparent cutting off of assistance from Trump’s PAC after it initially provided him with $400,000 this year to help cover the cost of preserving his records as evidence in court cases.

“These are a lot of bills that he’s not paying,” Giuliani’s attorney Adam Katz told a New York state court earlier this month in a defamation suit brought by voting equipment company Smartmatic. “I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.”

CNN reported last week that Giuliani and his attorney traveled to Florida in April to appeal to Trump to help cover some of Giuliani’s legal fees. Trump reportedly did not seem especially interested, though he verbally agreed to help with some of Giuliani’s legal bills without committing to a specific amount or time frame.

A spokesman for Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.

The former mayor is far from the only Trump associate with ongoing legal battles.

Sidney Powell, who aided with Trump’s post-election cases, is also facing a defamation suit from Dominion. And Eastman and Clark have hired attorneys to represent them in proceedings to strip their law license.

One source dismissed the suggestion that Trump should be covering the legal bills of co-defendants in Georgia, calling it “inane.”

Trump has complained on social media that his mounting legal cases were forcing his campaign “to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees, thereby having less to spend” on political ads.

A source familiar with Trump’s PAC spending said the Trump team spent too much money upfront, acquiring high legal bills from attorneys well in advance of the trials now facing them.

“What you’ve got here is you have a lot of lawyers that I think are being very abusive in their billing practices. And they basically see this as a piggy bank that they can raid to run up the bill without actually providing value commensurate with the amount of money they’re getting paid,” the source said.

“And it then causes the problem that you have here where, oh my god, people are spending like drunken sailors. And all these millions and millions of dollars got spent. And now when Rudy actually has to stay out of jail, there’s nothing left to help Rudy stay out of jail. And they’re starting to get real tight with things because now they’re looking at four trials coming up.”

[Boldface added}

Legal repercussions have arrived for the leaders of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential contest, in what could serve as a warning to those who meddle in future elections.


Trump, allies charged with racketeering scheme over bid to subvert election in Georgia

The former president and 18 allies were indicted for what prosecutors described as a wide-ranging criminal enterprise.


A grand jury in Georgia has indicted former President Donald Trump and 18 allies on racketeering charges for a sweeping attempt to corrupt the 2020 election by subverting Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis leveled the charges Monday night after a two-year investigation that also tagged Trump with allegations that he conspired to derail the Electoral College process, marshaled the Justice Department to bolster his scheme, pressured Georgia officials to undo the election results and repeatedly lied about fraud allegations to ratchet up pressure.

In addition to Trump, Willis charged former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeff Clark, Ken Chesebro and Jenna Ellis, key figures in Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.

The 98-page indictment tracks several well-known aspects of Trump’s conduct in the chaotic weeks that followed his defeat in the Nov. 3, 2020, election, many of which were aired by the House Jan. 6 select committee and, more recently, in a federal indictment obtained by special counsel Jack Smith.



Here are the Trump co-conspirators described in the DOJ indictment

The indictment describes “Co-Conspirator 3” as an attorney whose baseless accusations Trump “embraced and publicly amplified,” even though he privately acknowledged to others that the unfounded claims of election fraud sounded “crazy.”

A former federal prosecutor, Powell became a defense attorney and conservative commentator critical of the Justice Department after representing a banker in the Enron scandal. She represented former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn when he withdrew a guilty plea after admitting he lied to the FBI.

Powell came to the Republican National Committee after the 2020 election with the baseless claim that voting machines had been hacked to rig the election for Biden. After she aired those falsehoods at a poorly received news conference, the Trump campaign distanced itself from her. But she kept filing lawsuits claiming election fraud and airing those allegations on Fox News. In a White House meeting in December 2020, Trump considered naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate the election, an action mentioned in Tuesday’s indictment though Powell was not formally named in the document. After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, Powell continued to pursue voting machine data and raise money off election falsehoods. She has since been sanctioned for misconduct and repeatedly sued for defamation.

Powell told the House Jan. 6 committee that she did not read or review all the declarations she presented as alleged evidence of election fraud and argued through an attorney that “no reasonable person” would take her claims as fact. She has said in depositions that she still believes her fraud claims will one day be proved true. An attorney for Powell declined to comment.



Does anything make a difference in the fight against Trump’s lawlessness and lies?

The answer is yes, and the record is impressive. Let’s go through it.

The pro-Trump media ecosphere that repeated and amplified his election lies has paid a price. Fox News agreed to a stunning $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, and multiple defamation cases continue against multiple right-wing media outlets.

Trump’s lawyers and his lawyer allies have paid a price. Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the bulk of a sanctions award against Sidney Powell and a Mos Eisley cantina’s worth of Trump-allied lawyers. A New York State appellate court temporarily suspended Rudy Giuliani’s law license in 2021, and earlier this month a Washington, D.C., bar panel recommended that he be disbarred. Jenna Ellis, one of Guiliani’s partners in dangerous dishonesty and frivolous legal arguments, admitted to making multiple misrepresentations in a public censure from the Colorado Bar Association. John Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University’s law school and the author of an infamous legal memo that suggested Mike Pence could overturn the election, is facing his own bar trial in California.

Congress has responded to the Jan. 6 crisis, passing bipartisan Electoral Count Act reforms that would make a repeat performance of the congressional attempt to overturn the election far more difficult.

The Supreme Court has responded, deciding Moore v. Harper, which gutted the independent state legislature doctrine and guaranteed that partisan state legislatures are still subject to review by the courts.

The criminal justice system has responded, securing hundreds of criminal convictions of Jan. 6 rioters, including seditious conspiracy convictions for multiple members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. And the criminal justice system is still responding, progressing steadily up the command and control chain, with Trump himself apparently the ultimate target.

In roughly 30 months — light speed in legal time — the American legal system has built the case law necessary to combat and deter American insurrection. Bar associations are setting precedents. Courts are setting precedents. And these precedents are holding in the face of appeals and legal challenges.

Do you wonder why the 2022 election was relatively routine and uneventful, even though the Republicans fielded a host of conspiracy-theorist candidates? Do you wonder why right-wing media was relatively tame after a series of tough G.O.P. losses, especially compared to the deranged hysterics in 2020? Yes, it matters that Trump was not a candidate, but it also matters that the right’s most lawless members have been prosecuted, sued and sanctioned.

The consequences for Jan. 6 and the Stop the Steal movement are not exclusively legal. The midterm elections also represented a profound setback for the extreme MAGA right. According to an NBC News report, election-denying candidates “overwhelmingly lost” their races in swing states. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the relentless legal efforts also had a political payoff.

And to be clear, this accountability has not come exclusively through the left — though the Biden administration and the Garland Justice Department deserve immense credit for their responses to Trump’s insurrection, which have been firm without overreaching. Multiple Republicans joined with Democrats to pass Electoral Count Act reform. Both conservative and liberal justices rejected the independent state legislature doctrine. Conservative and liberal judges, including multiple Trump appointees, likewise rejected Trump’s election challenges. Republican governors and other Republican elected officials in Arizona and Georgia withstood immense pressure from within their own party to uphold Joe Biden’s election win.

American legal institutions have passed the Jan. 6 test so far, but the tests aren’t over. Trump is already attempting to substantially delay the trial on his federal indictment in the Mar-a-Lago case, and if a second federal indictment arrives soon, he’ll almost certainly attempt to delay it as well. Trump does not want to face a jury, and if he delays his trials long enough, he can run for president free of any felony convictions. And what if he wins?


Special counsel Jack Smith has compelled at least two Republican fake electors to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington in recent weeks by giving them limited immunity, part of a current push by federal prosecutors to swiftly nail down evidence in the sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

In recent weeks, the special counsel’s office has also shown interest in several members of Trump’s post-election legal team who promoted baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, including his former lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as former Justice Department appointee Jeffrey Clark, who tried to help Trump’s push to use the Department of Justice to overturn the election.

Giuliani played a key role in overseeing the fake electors plot across seven battleground states as part of the broader push to overturn the 2020 presidential election results for Trump, as CNN has previously reported.

Prosecutors have also continued to focus on potential financial crimes and money laundering after Trump raised millions of dollars off false claims the election was stolen. One former Trump campaign official who testified this month before the grand jury was asked about specific campaign ads and messaging produced as part of those fundraising activities, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Multiple 2020 election witnesses are scheduled for grand jury appointments in the coming days, sources say.













































The Justice Department has been gathering evidence about whether the former president and his allies solicited donations with claims of election fraud they knew to be false.

Maggie HabermanAlan Feuer and


As they investigate former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, federal prosecutors have also been drilling down on whether Mr. Trump and a range of political aides knew that he had lost the race but still raised money off claims that they were fighting widespread fraud in the vote results, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Led by the special counsel Jack Smith, prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Trump and his aides violated federal wire fraud statutes as they raised as much as $250 million through a political action committee by saying they needed the money to fight to reverse election fraud even though they had been told repeatedly that there was no evidence to back up those fraud claims.

The prosecutors are looking at the inner workings of the committee, Save America PAC, and at the Trump campaign’s efforts to prove its baseless case that Mr. Trump had been cheated out of victory.

But more recently, investigators have homed in on the activities of a joint fund-raising committee made up of staff members from the 2020 Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, among others. Some of the subpoenas have sought documents from around Election Day 2020 up to the present.

Prosecutors have been heavily focused on details of the campaign’s finances, spending and fund-raising, such as who was approving email solicitations that were blasted out to lists of possible small donors and what they knew about the truth of the fraud claims, according to the people familiar with their work. All three areas overlap, and could inform prosecutors’ thinking about whether to proceed with charges in an investigation in which witnesses are still being interviewed.

The possibility that the fund-raising efforts might have been criminally fraudulent was first raised last year by the House select committee investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to retain power.

But the Justice Department, with its ability to bring criminal charges, has been able to prompt more extensive cooperation from a number of witnesses. And prosecutors have developed more information than the House committee did, having targeted communications between Trump campaign aides and other Republican officials to determine if a barrage of fund-raising solicitations sent out after the election were knowingly misleading, according to the three people familiar with the matter.

On Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence, a key witness to Mr. Trump’s efforts, testified for hours to the grand jury gathering evidence in the investigation.

Prosecutors have been looking at the nexus between research the Trump campaign commissioned almost immediately after the election to try to prove widespread fraud, public statements that he and his allies made at the time, the fund-raising efforts and the establishment of Save America.

The Washington Post reported earlier on the efforts by the campaign to fund research into claims of fraud and the new round of subpoenas.

Republicans may also argue that Democrats have been loose in claims they have used in fund-raising solicitations. And the Trump campaign may argue that it did in fact use the funds to try to investigate fraud.

A Trump campaign adviser said the “deep state” was ramping up its attacks on the former president as his poll numbers rose. “The ‘political police’ have been pushing their witch hunt since President Trump came down the escalator, and they’ve been proven wrong every single time,” the adviser added.

Officials with the Republican National Committee declined to comment.

Immediately after the election, an adviser to the Trump campaign reached out to Ken Block, the owner of a Rhode Island-based firm, Simpatico Software Systems, to have him evaluate specific allegations of fraud.

Mr. Block ended up researching multiple claims of possible fraud that Mr. Trump’s aides brought to him. He never produced a final report. But each time he investigated a claim, he said in an interview, he found there was nothing to it.

Mr. Block said he had disproved “everything that came in and found no substantive fraud sufficient to overturn an election result.” He said he was isolated from what was taking place within the campaign, as Mr. Trump railed at aides about staying in office and continued to insist he had won an election that he was repeatedly told he had lost.

“I was kept very walled off from all of the insanity,” said Mr. Block, whose firm was paid $735,000, records show. He received a subpoena for documents, but declined in the interview to discuss anything related to the grand jury.

Days after starting to work with Mr. Block and Simpatico, the Trump campaign hired a second firm, the Berkeley Research Group. The federal grand jury has received evidence that Berkeley was hired at the suggestion of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, who was overseeing the political operation.

The grand jury has been asking questions related to whether Mr. Trump was briefed on findings by Berkeley suggesting there had been no widespread fraud.

The company ultimately submitted a report indicating there had been no fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election, and was paid roughly $600,000 for its work. The company was hired through a law firm that has long represented Mr. Trump in his personal capacity, Kasowitz Benson Torres, although lawyers there were not involved in pursuing Mr. Trump’s election fraud claims, according to a person briefed on the matter.

During the House Jan. 6 committee’s proceedings last year, several people close to Mr. Trump testified that they had informed him that there had been no fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the voting.

Within two weeks of the election, the Trump campaign’s own communications staff drafted an internal report debunking many aspects of a conspiracy theory that voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems had been hacked and used to flip votes away from Mr. Trump. That report was written before pro-Trump lawyers like Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani promoted the false Dominion story at news conferences and on television.

As part of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s postelection fund-raising, the Jan. 6 panel subpoenaed records from, a vendor that helped the campaign and the Republican National Committee send emails to potential donors. The R.N.C. fought back, filing a lawsuit to quash the subpoena, and the House committee ultimately withdrew it.

[Boldface added]


Texas Bar Seeks to Revive Trump Ally Sidney Powell’s Ethics Case

  • Judge dismissed case due to ‘defects’ with court filings
  • Powell was accused of misconduct over 2020 conspiracy theories

Texas state bar regulators are pushing to revive their disciplinary case against conservative attorney Sidney Powell after a judge tossed it out due to “numerous defects” in court documents.

The Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline urged Judge Andrea Bouressa in a filing to reconsider her February decision to dismiss the case against Powell. The commission argued that errors in how its attorneys had attached evidence as exhibits weren’t grounds to end the fight. 


Meet the ‘Ghost’ Woman Fox Relied on for Voter Fraud Claims

“Cactus artist” Marlene Bourne claims she might be a ghost and Antonin Scalia was hunted for sport. Her ideas got airtime on Fox News.

A voting machine company’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News has rocked the conservative media giant, exposing rifts between its journalists and the star hosts, and executives more concerned with mollifying pro-Trump viewers than accurately reporting that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen.

But the strangest revelation so far from the Dominion Voting Systems case against the cable channel may be the alleged source of the voter-fraud claims that sparked the lawsuit: a single email from a previously unknown woman who was convinced, among other things, that late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered while being hunted for sport.

That unhinged email to Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell has now become a centerpiece of Dominion’s case, raising questions about how Fox could allow obviously fake claims from a total stranger with no credentials to make it on the air. [Boldface added]

Even Maria Bartiromo, the Fox host whose show first aired the claims, admitted in a deposition that the email was ridiculous.

“It’s kooky, absolutely,” Bartiromo said.

But the idea’s origin is even more “kooky” than Bartiromo might realize. In an interview with The Daily Beast, the woman behind that email—a Minnesota artist named Marlene Bourne—said that she based her now nationally prominent ideas about election fraud on a wide variety of sources, including hidden messages she detects in films, song lyrics she hears on the radio, and overheard conversations she hears while in line at the supermarket checkout.


Georgia Poll Workers Pick Up Where Jan. 6 Committee Left Off

An obscure defamation case could actually yield more information about Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s communications than what the Jan. 6 Committee could get.


Two Georgia poll workers who were attacked by 2020 election conspiracy theorists are picking up where the Jan. 6 congressional investigation left off—by trying to independently examine the private communications between two of the men behind the firestorm: Rudy Giuliani and former President Donald Trump.

But now, a mother and daughter still reeling from the MAGA harassment are trying to pierce that veil.

Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss of Fulton County, Georgia, are turning their defamation lawsuit against Giuliani into a no-limits, fact-finding mission, according to an undisclosed letter from their attorneys reviewed exclusively by The Daily Beast.

Freeman and Moss experienced some of the worst vitriol that came out of Trump’s refusal to cede power after losing his bid to remain in the White House. In the weeks after the November 2020 election, the Trump campaign desperately searched for any shred of evidence that would cast doubt on the results. Giuliani zeroed in on surveillance video of the women, who were serving as poll workers at a Fulton County vote tabulation center.

At the time, Giuliani told anyone that would listen—journalists, legislators, and the general public—that the women were illegally moving suitcases of fake ballots. That allegation has since been thoroughly disproven by federal investigators and Georgia’s state elections officials—who are Trump-supporting Republicans, no less.

Giuliani, who played a central role in the Republican attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election as Trump’s lawyer, refused to tell congressional investigators about their conversations, citing attorney-client privilege.

In their Jan. 13 letter, the pair’s attorneys tell Giuliani’s defense lawyer that his objections to the Jan. 6 Committee’s questions about interactions with Trump “were improper,” warning that they intend to bulldoze right over them.

“Mr. Giuliani invoked privilege during January 6 testimony with respect to certain topics we expect to broach during his… deposition,” said the letter, which was written in anticipation of a closed-door questioning session.

Giuliani was deposed on Wednesday inside a midtown Manhattan skyscraper that serves as the headquarters of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, the high-end international law firm representing the women.

Lawyers for Freeman and Moss said they want to know more about Giuliani’s interactions with Trump, as well as his “correspondence” with the Department of Justice regarding Trump’s mission to overturn the 2020 election, conservative state legislators who were coaxed into publicly doubting the ballot results that year, and fake Republican electors who tried to band together as alternate electoral college votes to supplant the real ones that went for Joe Biden.

The lawyers also want to explore Giuliani’s interactions with Sidney Powell, the kooky lawyer who led the conspiracy-laden “Kraken” lawsuits that spread their tentacles across the country in an unhinged attempt to keep Trump in the White House. The legal ploy failed miserably, and Powell was formally sanctioned by a federal judge who called it “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” that “was about undermining the people’s faith in our democracy.”

In the legal world, attorneys are generally granted blanket protections for the interactions they have with clients. In this case, Giuliani is trying to keep private his conversations with his client, Trump, as they discussed the effort to overturn the election results.

Defamation lawyers for Freeman and Moss are trying to ram right past that blockade.

“They’re trying to get to Trump,” said one source, who’s familiar with the matter.

Giuliani’s Texas lawyer, Joseph D. Sibley, did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did Michael J. Gottlieb, a former Obama White House lawyer in Washington who represents the mother and daughter.

What Fox News Hosts Said Privately vs. Publicly About Voter Fraud

Two days after the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson was furious.

Fox News viewers were abandoning the network for Newsmax and One America News, two conservative rivals, after Fox declared that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Arizona, a crucial swing state.

In a text message with his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, Mr. Carlson appeared livid that viewers were turning against the network. The message was among those released last week as part of a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox. Dominion, an elections technology company, has sued Fox News for defamation.

A graphic shows a text exchange from Carlson to Pfeiffer.
Carlson to Pfeiffer
We worked really hard to build what we have … It enrages me.

At the same time, Mr. Carlson and his broadcasting colleagues expressed grave doubts about an unfounded narrative rapidly gaining momentum among their core audience: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats through widespread voter fraud. The belief was promoted by then-President Trump and a coalition of lawyers, lawmakers and influencers, though they produced no evidence to support their assertions.

Many hosts, producers and executives privately expressed skepticism about those claims, even as they gave them significant airtime, according to private messages revealed last week by Dominion. What they said in those messages often differed significantly from what Fox hosts said in public, though they weren’t always contradictory.

Two days after the election, Mr. Pfeiffer said that voices on the right were “reckless demagogues,” according to a text message. Mr. Carlson replied that his show was “not going to follow them.”

A graphic shows a text exchange between Pfeiffer and Carlson.
Said privately on Nov. 5, 2020
Pfeiffer to Carlson
It’s a hard needle to thread, but I really think many on ‘our side’ are being reckless demagogues right now.
Carlson to Pfeiffer
Of course they are. We’re not going to follow them.

But he did follow them. The same day, on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Mr. Carlson expressed some doubts about the voter fraud assertions before insisting that at least some of the claims were “credible.”

A graphic of a text exchange, followed by a video clip of Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 5, 2020
Carlson: “Not all the claims are credible — some are. … Serious questions about the legitimacy of ballots remained unanswered.”

In the days and weeks that followed, Mr. Carlson was one of several Fox News hosts who repeatedly took a different tone when speaking to viewers on air than when they were talking privately.

The private conversations pose a serious legal threat to the nation’s most-watched cable news network. Dominion has obtained thousands of emails and text messages from Fox employees as part of its $1.6 billion suit. The messages, taken as a whole, are at the core of Dominion’s case.

Fox News has argued in court that the First Amendment protects its right to broadcast false claims if they are inherently newsworthy — and in this case that there was nothing more newsworthy at the time than a sitting president’s allegations of widespread voter fraud.

In a statement, the company said that “the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution” and protected by legal precedent. It added, “Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law.”

But if a jury looks at the messages from Fox hosts, guests and executives and concludes that people inside the network knew what they were putting on the air was false, it could find Fox liable and reward Dominion with substantial financial damages.

On Nov. 7, 2020, Mr. Carlson told Mr. Pfeiffer that claims about manipulated software were “absurd.” Mr. Pfeiffer replied later that there was not enough evidence of fraud to swing the election.

A graphic of a text exchange between Pfeiffer and Carlson.
Said privately on Nov. 7, 2020
Carlson to Pfeiffer
The software shit is absurd.
Nov. 8, 2020
Pfeiffer to Carlson
I dont think there is evidence of voter fraud that swung the election.

But during his broadcast on Nov. 9, Mr. Carlson devoted time to various theories, suggesting there could be merit to claims about software manipulation. “We don’t know, we have to find out,” he said.

A video clip of Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 9, 2020
Carlson: “We don’t know anything about the software that many say was rigged. … And you are not crazy for knowing it. You are right.”

Mr. Carlson also privately criticized Sidney Powell, a lawyer and conspiracy theorist who was gaining traction among the far right for her involvement in several lawsuits aimed at challenging the election results, the court filings show. Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, two hosts on Fox Business, a sister channel to Fox News that is also part of Dominion’s lawsuit, repeatedly invited Ms. Powell onto their shows as an expert on voter fraud claims.

A graphic of a text message from Carlson.
Said privately on Nov. 16, 2020
Carlson to Pfeiffer
Sidney Powell is lying

Mr. Pfeiffer told Mr. Carlson over text message that election fraud claims, like those being made by Ms. Powell, “need to be backed up.” He warned that President Biden faced being undermined if he was eventually inaugurated.

Mr. Carlson agreed, the filings show.

A graphic of a text message from Carlson.
Said privately on Nov. 18, 2020
Carlson to Pfeiffer
Yep. It’s bad.

The next day, Mr. Carlson eviscerated Ms. Powell in a brutal 10-minute monologue, dissecting her claims as unreliable and unproven. He said the show had repeatedly asked her for evidence and, “when we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.”

A video of Carlson from “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 19, 2020
Carlson: “She never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one.”

In the same monologue, however, Mr. Carlson also gave some credence to Ms. Powell’s claims, saying that “we don’t dismiss anything anymore” and that he is “hopeful” she will come forward with evidence.

A video of Carlson from “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 19, 2020
Carlson: “We did not dismiss any of it. We don’t dismiss anything anymore.”

Viewers expressed outrage at Mr. Carlson for challenging a prominent Trump ally. And Mr. Trump’s associates quickly jumped to her defense.

Privately, Mr. Carlson continued to criticize Ms. Powell, calling her claims “shockingly reckless.” Mr. Pfeiffer and Mr. Carlson both privately called her a “nut.” Laura Ingraham, who is the host of a 10 p.m. show, and Raj Shah, a senior vice president at the Fox Corporation, the network’s corporate parent, were equally incredulous.

A graphic of several text messages from Raj Shah, Pfeiffer, Carlson and Ingraham.
Said privately on Nov. 22, 2020
Shah to Pfeiffer
so many people openly denying the obvious that Powell is clearly full of it.
Pfeiffer to Shah
She is a [expletive] nutcase.
Carlson to Ingraham
[Powell is] a nut, as you said at the outset. It totally wrecked my weekend. Wow… I had to try to make the WH disavow her, which they obviously should have done long before
Ingraham to Carlson
No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying.
Carlson to Ingraham
But they said nothing in public. Pretty disgusting.

The next day, Mr. Carlson appeared to soften his public stance, suggesting that some of the criticisms about voting machines had merit and concluding, “This is a real issue no matter who raises it.”

A video from “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 23, 2020
Carlson: “This is a real issue no matter who raises it or who tries to dismiss it out of hand as a conspiracy theory.”

Mr. Carlson was far from alone in speaking about Ms. Powell in a different way in private than on the air.

Internally, anchors like Bret Baier appeared surprised to find Ms. Powell getting significant airtime on shows by Ms. Bartiromo and Mr. Dobbs, the court filings show. On Nov. 6, 2020, after someone forwarded Mr. Dobbs’s interview with Ms. Powell, Mr. Baier replied:

A graphic of a text message from Baier.
“What is this? Oh man.”

The private messages also showed that Ms. Powell was in direct communication with Ms. Bartiromo and Mr. Dobbs, and that she revealed one of the sources for her outrageous claims. The court filings showed that Ms. Powell forwarded an email about voter fraud to Ms. Bartiromo from the source, a woman who claimed, among other things, that “the Wind tells me I’m a ghost.”

If Ms. Bartiromo was deterred by the unusual email, it was not evident to Fox News viewers. Ms. Powell was interviewed on the show the next day.

A video from “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo.”
Said publicly on Nov. 8, 2020
Bartiromo: “We talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.”

Consternation over Ms. Powell grew behind the scenes at Fox News as her lawsuits were repeatedly dismissed by courts and her promises to produce concrete evidence of widespread voter fraud never materialized. Yet she was still getting airtime, and senior executives at the network appeared concerned.

Gary Schreier, a senior vice president of programming at Fox Business, said in a private message to Lauren Petterson, the president of Fox Business, that Ms. Bartiromo “has GOP conspiracy theorists in her ear and they use her for their message sometimes.”

Days later, Mr. Schreier received an email from Dominion Voting Systems containing links that refuted Ms. Powell’s voter fraud claims.

That night, Mr. Dobbs interviewed Ms. Powell about Dominion’s comments. But he also used the interview to reinforce her claims of fraud. Mr. Dobbs concluded that “this looks like the effort to carry out an endgame” against Mr. Trump. Ms. Bartiromo interviewed Ms. Powell again two days later.

A video from “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo.”
Said publicly on Nov. 13, 2020
Dobbs: “This is the culmination of what has been over a four-year effort to overthrow this president.”
Said publicly on Nov. 15, 2020
Bartiromo: “Attorney Sidney Powell is leading the charge against Dominion and she says she has enough evidence of fraud to launch a massive criminal investigation.”

Several Fox News hosts and producers were criticizing Ms. Powell, including John Fawcett, a producer on Mr. Dobbs’s show, who said he believed Ms. Powell was “doing LSD and cocaine and heroin and shrooms.”

A text message from Ingraham.
Said privately on Nov. 15, 2020
Ingraham to Hannity and Carlson
Sidney Powell is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is.

But those criticisms never made it to air. Instead, when Ms. Powell appeared again on Mr. Dobbs’s show days later, she was hailed as a “great American” and “one of the country’s leading appellate attorneys.”

A video from “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 19, 2020
Dobbs: “Our election is run by companies, the ownership of which we don’t know. Sidney Powell is among those trying to change all that.”

By late November, Mr. Fawcett became increasingly critical of Ms. Powell, according to the court filings. He concluded that she was not verifying her claims. On Nov. 27, 2020, he wrote that her lawsuits were “complete bs.”

Mr. Fawcett also told Mr. Dobbs that Mr. Trump’s legal team had disavowed her. Mr. Dobbs replied that he didn’t know what Ms. Powell was “thinking or doing, Or why!”

A graphic of text messages between Fawcett and Dobbs.
Said privately on Nov. 22, 2020
Fawcett to Dobbs
Could be losing her mind
Fawcett to Dobbs
I just don’t think she is verifying anything she is saying.

But over the next several days, Ms. Powell was invited back by Mr. Dobbs, who echoed her claims that “electoral fraud” was perpetrated by electronic voting machines, “prominently Dominion.”

Two videos from “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
Said publicly on Nov. 24, 2020
Dobbs: “I think many Americans have given no thought to electoral fraud that would be perpetrated through electronic voting, that is these machines … prominently Dominion, at least in the suspicions of a lot of Americans.”
Said publicly on Nov. 30, 2020
Dobbs: “We have, across almost every state, whether it’s Dominion … whatever the voting machine company is — no one knows their ownership, has no idea what’s going on in those servers.”

The next month, after Smartmatic, a competitor of Dominion Voting Systems, sent a letter to Fox News signaling that litigation was imminent, the network put together a video package of an election expert debunking the conspiracy theories that suggested the company’s technology allowed the presidential vote to be rigged. It aired on the programs hosted by Mr. Dobbs, Ms. Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.

On Feb. 5, 2021, one day after Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox, Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” At the time, Fox said it regularly reviewed its lineup. “Plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate postelection, including on Fox Business,” the network said.

Judge tosses out disciplinary action against Sidney Powell for work on Trump election reversal bid

A Texas judge on Thursday dismissed the petition brought by State Bar of Texas’ Commission for Lawyer Discipline alleging that attorney Sidney Powell had violated legal ethics rules with her work on former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election reversal gambits.

Judge Andrea Bouressa, who presides in Texas’ 471st District Court, said the commission had not met its burden in proving that Powell had run afoul of Texas’ attorney code of conduct. The judge also knocked the commission for not properly labeling its exhibits in its filing, leading her to only consider two of the exhibits the commission had filed.

It is possible that the dismissal order could be appealed, but a spokesperson for the disciplinary commission declined to comment. The attorney who represented Powell in the disciplinary proceedings did not respond to CNN’s inquiry.

The disciplinary proceedings for the ex-Trump attorney unfolded in state court in Texas, where she is licensed, after a March 1 petition from the Texas Bar’s disciplinary commission asked the court to find her in violation of the professional code for attorneys in the state.

As CNN previously reported, those who have sought disciplinary responses for Trump’s legal allies say the post-election conduct crossed ethical lines into the realm of professional misconduct – and that the tactics were well outside the normal bounds of legal challenges to election procedures.

A number of former Trump lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, have faced state bar reviews.




The brief, a motion for summary judgment in a case stemming from Fox’s egregiously false claims of Dominion-abetted election fraud, offers a portrait of extravagant cynicism. It reveals how obsessed Carlson and other leading Fox News figures were with audience share, and their fear of being outflanked by even further-right outlets like Newsmax.

“It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things,” Bill Sammon, a Fox senior vice president until 2021, is quoted as saying. It’s a line that would fall flat on “Succession” because it’s too absurdly on the nose.

As the Dominion filing lays out, there was panic at Fox News over viewer backlash to the network correctly calling Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. Despite its accuracy, the call was viewed, internally, as a catastrophe.

“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?” Carlson texted his producer. He added, “An alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us.” Sean Hannity, in an exchange with fellow hosts Carlson and Laura Ingraham, fretted about the “incalculable” damage the Arizona projection did to the Fox News brand and worried about a competitor emerging: “Serious $$ with serious distribution could be a real problem.”

Hyping false claims about election fraud was a way for Fox to win its audience back. While the Arizona call was “damaging,” Fox News C.E.O. Suzanne Scott wrote in a text to Fox executive Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son, “We will highlight our stars and plant flags letting the viewers know we hear them and respect them.”

When Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich fact-checked Trump’s wild claims about Dominion on Twitter, Carlson was enraged and tried to get her fired. “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight,” he texted Hannity. “It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” (Heinrich kept her job but deleted the tweet.)

The network knew, of course, that Trump’s lawyer Sidney Powell, a chief promoter of Dominion conspiracy theories, was a delusional fantasist. The legal brief reveals that some of her claims about Dominion were based on an email Powell had received from someone who claimed to be capable of “time travel in a semiconscious state.” On Nov. 18, 2020, Carlson told Ingraham: “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. Caught her. It’s insane.” Ingraham wrote back that Powell was a “complete nut.”

But according to the Dominion brief, an analysis by Ron Mitchell, the senior vice president for prime-time programming and analytics, found that “Fox viewers were switching the channel specifically to watch Sidney Powell as a guest” on Newsmax. A few days after this analysis, Powell was a guest on Hannity’s show.

At one point, Carlson did express skepticism of Powell on-air, noting on Nov. 19 that she had never produced evidence for her claims. “Maybe Sidney Powell will come forward soon with details on exactly how this happened, and precisely who did it,” he said, adding, “We are certainly hopeful that she will.”

Even this gentle note of doubt produced viewer pushback, though most of a message about it from Fox executive Raj Shah is redacted. Afterward, Carlson seems to have given up trying to steer his audience away from total credulity about Trump’s stolen election claims, even though he privately called Trump a “demonic force.”

On Jan. 26, Carlson hosted MyPillow founder Mike Lindell on his show and let him sound off about Dominion without resistance. In fairness, Carlson may have had a motive for indulging Lindell besides grubbing for ratings. As Media Matters for America pointed out, MyPillow at the time was Carlson’s single biggest advertiser.

“Respecting this audience whether we agree or not is critical,” Hannity texted on Nov. 24. It’s a version of respect indistinguishable from contempt.

Letters from an America, Feb. 16. 2023

A legal filing today in the case of Dominion Voting Systems against the Fox News Corporation provides a window into the role of disinformation and money in the movement to deny that President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion Voting Systems is suing FNC for defamation after FNC personalities repeatedly claimed that the company’s voting machines had corrupted the final tallies in the 2020 election. The filing today shows that those same personalities didn’t believe what they were telling their viewers, and suggests that they made those groundless accusations because they worried their viewers were abandoning them to go to channels that told them what they wanted to hear: that Trump had won the election. 

The quotes in the filing are eye-popping:

On November 10, 2020, Trump advisor Steven Bannon wrote to FNC personality Maria Bartiromo: “71 million voters will never accept Biden. This process is to destroy his presidency before it even starts; IF it even starts….  We either close on Trumps [sic] victory or del[e]gitimize Biden…. THE PLAN.”

FNC’s internal fact checks on November 13 and November 20 called accusations of irregularities in the voting “Incorrect” and said there was “not evidence of widespread fraud.”

On November 15, Laura Ingraham wrote to Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity: “Sidney Power is a bit nuts. Sorry, but she is.” 

On November 16, Carlson wrote to his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, “Sidney Powell is lying.” 

On November 19, FNC chair Rupert Murdoch wrote: “Really crazy stuff.” 

Hannity later testified: “[T]hat whole narrative that Sidney was pushing. I did not believe it for one second.” 

Fox Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt later testified, “[N]o reasonable person would have thought that,” when asked if it was true that Dominion rigged the election.

[Boldface added]
Cyber Ninjas’ ties to Trump during Arizona election ‘audit’ revealed in messages

Ryan RandazzoRobert Anglen

Arizona Republic
Published Jan. 26, 2023; Updated Jan. 26, 2023
Former President Donald Trump publicly kept his distance from the review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election. But inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, his influence loomed over critical aspects of the “audit,” according to messages sent and received by the man leading the ballot recount.
New records show Trump received direct updates from people at the coliseum, his allies pressured the lead contractor on when to report findings, and that contractor asked people close to the former president if he could help pay for it. This all happened as leaders of the state Senate publicly denied Trump had any involvement in their effort.
While messages from those working on the audit indicate they intentionally kept the president at arm’s length to avoid the appearance of his influence, behind the scenes they sought Trump’s approval — and money.
In April 2021, four days before the election review began, Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan used a private messaging system to discuss taking a donation from Trump and his team surreptitiously.
“I told them there was no way I could take funds directly,” he said in the chat.
Once the audit concluded and the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas was millions of dollars in debt, Logan would lament that Trump never did directly fund his work.
“It’s my understanding that our underfunded status is known all the way up to 45,” Logan wrote to a subcontractor in a conversation about how to pay everyone. “Never talked with him, but I’ve been told the message has been received.”
Logan has released tens of thousands of personal messages he sent to supporters and subcontractors involved in the audit in response to ongoing lawsuits from The Arizona Republic and a left-leaning watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., called American Oversight.
The messages reveal for the first time how Logan worked with Trump allies to help finance the work, shape media coverage and manage day-to-day operations as teams worked to hand count 2.1 million ballots cast by county voters.
Logan for months fought the release of his personal messages, which The Republic first sought through state Public Records Law. But after a $50,000-a-day sanction for noncompliance and exhausting all appeals, Logan’s lawyer has turned over many — but not all — text and Signal messages Logan sent and received while working on the audit.
Logan on Tuesday declined to comment on the pleas for money he made through extensive communication with Christina Bobb, a former Trump lawyer and conservative broadcaster who served as a go-between for the former president.
Arizona Senate Republicans hired Cyber Ninjas to recount and inspect ballots, and the so-called “audit” confirmed President Joe Biden’s win in the state and made no concrete findings of wrongdoing by election officials. But for months it served as a marketing tool for politicians who campaigned on unproven accusations that the election was compromised.
Senate Republicans said from the outset that Trump did not push for the audit and did not provide any assistance for it, financial or otherwise.
Former Senate President Karen Fann, a Prescott Republican who hired Cyber Ninjas, repeatedly said the effort was not done to put Trump back in the White House.
“This absolutely has nothing to do with Trump,” Fann wrote in an email to a constituent days after the audit began in 2021. “The election cannot be overturned. This audit is ONLY about election integrity, answering their questions, and hopefully proving there was nothing wrong with the election.”
She reacted with surprise Jan. 19 to the newly released messages when contacted about them by a reporter. When the audit began, she said, she did not know the extent to which Trump allies were involved.
“I did not know,” she said. “Since then I have now connected the dots. … Obviously, in the subsequent months, it was very apparent.”

Trump was watching, chatting with broadcaster

Several references in Logan’s messages indicate people in Trump’s circle were closely watching Maricopa County and reporting back to the former president, who they sometimes referred to as “45.” Trump was the nation’s 45th president.
Logan in the messages discussed Trump’s interest in the work with Bobb, who was given broad access to the election review while working as a personality for the right-wing OAN Network.
Bobb worked in the Trump administration as an appointee in the Department of Homeland Security. She left in early 2020 to join OAN. But after Trump lost the 2020 election, Bobb volunteered to help his legal team challenge the results and was with his team until the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to her testimony to the congressional committee that investigated the attack.
Shortly after Trump’s loss, she helped coordinate a meeting in Arizona at which Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested the election was compromised.
Bobb continued to work as a personality for OAN and began covering the Arizona audit, where she messaged frequently with Logan. She also helped raise money for the audit through her connections to Trump and his organization.
Other media were restricted to a small press box in Veterans Memorial Coliseum — when they could get into the building at all.
Bobb at one point told Logan she would ask the Trump organization for recommendations for a lawyer to help with the audit because Logan didn’t like the lawyer recommended to him at the time.
On June 19, 2021, Logan asked Bobb if Trump would pressure Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward to donate some of the money she was raising off the audit to the actual work, which he said she had not done. Bobb said Trump liked Ward because she was an “outspoken media personality” and was unlikely to push her to fund the audit.
In this series of messages, Doug Logan talks about audit funding with Christina Bobb. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits.

In this series of messages, Doug Logan talks about audit funding with Christina Bobb. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan followed up, asking if Trump could press people to donate to the nonprofits set up to fund the audit.
“I will ask him. He shies away from publicly supporting the audit. I will raise the money issue with him next time we talk,” Bobb responded.
Then on June 25, Bobb discussed funding with Logan, telling him that a wire would come from “Sidney” from Defending the Republic. Trump lawyer Sidney Powell raised money after his loss through a nonprofit by that name.
“I reached out to her and she didn’t take my call. I’ll try again. If she doesn’t answer, I’ll have Trump call,” Bobb wrote to Logan.
Months later, Logan would report that Powell’s group donated $550,000 to his work.
Bobb said in a recent interview with The Republic that she didn’t officially join the Trump team until April 2022. But she did communicate with Trump about the audit.
“I knew that he was very interested in the audit,” she said. “I was never officially communicating anything on behalf of anybody.”
Often, Trump just wanted more detail than what she had shared in her news stories, Bobb said.
She said she never received funding for the audit from Trump or any organization affiliated with him.
“He was not involved in funding. I did ask. It was a no,” she said.

Messages sought updates on counting, funding

In May 2021, as the work passed the one-month mark, Logan messaged with a man named Patrick Weaver who worked on the audit. Weaver was affiliated with The America Project, one of the groups that funded Logan’s work beyond the $150,000 paid by the state.
“Any total count numbers you can give me for Abby to give to Trump?” Weaver wrote to Logan on May 25, 2021. The identity of “Abby” is unclear.
In this message, Patrick Weaver asks Doug Logan for an audit update to provide Donald Trump. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits.

In this message, Patrick Weaver asks Doug Logan for an audit update to provide Donald Trump. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan responded with an update on the counting.
In July, Logan messaged with Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who worked with President Trump’s chief of staff after his 2020 defeat to concoct ways Trump might stay in office.Waldron said Trump had planned to send $1 million to the audit, but Logan said he had not received it.“Payment – 1 mil – supposedly Kurt talked to trump and they got 1 mil for you,” Waldron wrote to Logan. The identity of “Kurt” is unclear.

Fann unaware of some connections to Trump

Fann acknowledged that Bobb and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani “called several times” before the audit began as part of an effort to call the election into question. But said she did not “know anything else that was going on in the background” of the ballot count.
Arizona needed the audit to assure voters there was no chicanery in the numbers, Fann said.
“My job was to make sure we had an honest election in Arizona,” she said.
She confirmed Trump called her “a couple of times” to discuss the audit as it unfolded. She said she didn’t recall him trying to exert influence over the process, but rather he asked about it.
“He told me, ‘Thank you for doing this,'” she said.
Even as Bobb reported on and raised funds for the election review — and her network was selected to livestream camera footage from the coliseum — Fann said she believed Bobb was acting only in her capacity as a news host, not a Trump surrogate.

‘Is God really going to come through?’

Logan’s lawyer has redacted several messages between him and Bobb sent during this time, despite clear orders from Arizona courts to turn over everything. Still, some of the unredacted messages show Bobb held out her connection to Trump as a way to influence Logan, who was desperate for money.
“Is God really going to come through in funding this thing?” Logan wrote to Bobb on June 26, 2021.
She replied: “I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I know in the end we win. I don’t know how we get there. But yes, in the end it will all workout.”
Logan told her that day he needed about $4.8 million more to complete the audit.
“I’ll raise with 45 again next time we talk,” Bobb replied.
The next day, Bobb messaged Logan asking if the Senate would issue a news release with his preliminary findings. Contractors had finished counting and inspecting ballots at the coliseum a few days before. It would be months before Logan made a final report.
“I’m getting a lot of concerned people calling me saying the audit will lose credibility if there isn’t some type of announcement tomorrow,” she wrote.
In this text message, Christina Bobb asks Doug Logan about a potential announcement about the audit.

In this text message, Christina Bobb asks Doug Logan about a potential announcement about the audit. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan didn’t want to issue preliminary findings. He pushed back.
“That wouldn’t be the case if there wasn’t so much fake news that a number was expected tomorrow,” he told the reporter.
Bobb lashed out.
“I strongly suggest you don’t blame me for fake news,” Bobb wrote. “I STRONGLY suggest that.”
Bobb didn’t pretend to be an independent observer about the ballot review.
“Remember we’re on the same side,” she wrote to Logan. “If you want to fight me, we both will lose.”
Bobb said in an interview Jan. 19 she was pressuring Logan as a reporter, not on behalf of Trump.
“They needed to release the numbers. I remember that,” Bobb said. “I was holding him to the same standard that I was holding the election officials. Why don’t we have a result on election night? My personal opinion is when you are done counting, if you don’t release the numbers that looks sketchy. I’m not accusing anybody of doing anything wrong, but it raises a lot of questions.”
Asked whether she thought Logan did a good job on his final report, she said, “I don’t have a comment on that. I like Doug Logan. I think he’s great.”


Trump campaign officials got subpoena asking new questions about Jan. 6

Subpoena sought information and documents on legal representation, voting machines, fundraising around false election claims and more


Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed.

December 22, 2022.


The findings of the Committee implicate Sidney Powell in supporting the following parts of Donald Trump’s multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election:

1. Beginning election night and continuing through January 6th and thereafter, Donald Trump purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 Presidential election in order to aid his effort to overturn the the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions.

[Sidney Powell was sanctioned for making outlandish claims of election fraud without the evidence to back them up in a case that a Federal judge described as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process”.]

. . .

4. Donald Trump sought to corrupt the U.S. Department of Justice by attempting to enlist Department officials to make purposely false statements and thereby aid his effort his effort to overturn the Presidential election. 

[Evidence gathered by the Select Committee suggests that President Trump offered the position of Special Counsel for election related matters during a highly charged white House meeting on December 18, 2020. White House lawyers vehemently opposed Powell’s appointment, and it was not ultimately made formal.]


“Trump ally Sidney Powell asks court to overturn sanctions over election lawsuit”


Sidney Powell and other conservative lawyers who sued to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Michigan asked a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to overturn an order sanctioning them for pressing “frivolous” election claims.

During oral arguments that lasted more than two hours, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals pressed Powell to defend her November 2020 Michigan lawsuit, which sought to declare then-President Donald Trump winner of the state’s presidential election.

During Thursday’s hearing, 6th Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge questioned Powell about affidavits in the lawsuit that purportedly connected voting machines to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and suggested people from North Korea and Iran somehow had hacked voting machine software.

“Isn’t that facially something that’s not credible?” Kethledge asked.

But Kethledge and the others also pressed attorneys for Michigan state officials and the city of Detroit about whether the sanctions Parker imposed were appropriate, and why a lawsuit would not be the right avenue to challenge allegations of a stolen election.


Giuliani Faces Disbarment In State Hearing Underway This Week—Sidney Powell, Lin Wood And Other 2020 Election Attorneys Could Be Next

A disciplinary hearing against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is taking place this week, as the lawyer faces the prospect of being disbarred for bringing litigation trying to overturn the 2020 election—and other attorneys are likely to follow, as more bar complaints and investigations remain ongoing against major 2020 election attorneys like Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and John Eastman.


Rudy Giuliani: Giuliani is now facing a hearing by the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel—which is part of a multi-step process and will not immediately result in consequences—after a D.C. court and a New York court have already temporarily suspended his law license in both those jurisdictions.

Sidney Powell: Powell, who brought lawsuits in four battleground states alleging election fraud, will go to trial on April 24, 2023, in litigation brought against her by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline at the Texas State Bar, court documents show, which could result in her being disbarred or otherwise punished for professional misconduct.

Lin Wood: Wood, who brought litigation challenging Georgia’s election and also participated in some of Powell’s lawsuits, is under investigation by the State Bar of Georgia, which the bar confirmed to Forbes Tuesday is still pending after its disciplinary board shot down Wood’s attempt to dismiss the complaint against him in August, but no hearing date has yet been set.

John Eastman: Eastman aided former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop Congress from certifying the election on January 6, prompting an ethics investigation by the State Bar of California, which the bar confirmed to Forbes is still underway after being publicly announced in March.

Ken Paxton: The Texas attorney general was sued by the state bar’s disciplinary counsel in May over the lawsuit he filed at the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the election—causing him to retaliate against the bar as a result—and that lawsuit remains pending, though a separate complaint against his deputy attorney general was dismissed in September.

Jeffrey Clark: The former DOJ official, who aided Trump’s attempts to overturn the election from within the agency, faces a pending complaint from the D.C. Bar that was brought against him in July, and Clark asked a federal court to block the complaint in October, arguing the D.C. Bar doesn’t have jurisdiction to bring the complaint.


Giuliani’s hearing that’s now ongoing is scheduled to wrap up by the end of next week, at which point the hearing committee at the D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility will issue a non-binding recommendation on what punishment Giuliani should face. The case will go on to ultimately be decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals, a process that the Washington Post notes could still take months to go through. Under the bar’s rules for disciplinary action, Giuliani could face a range of punishments, from being permanently disbarred to just being formally censured or reprimanded or being put on probation. His law license in Washington, D.C., is still suspended, the D.C. Bar’s database shows, but that suspension is only temporary, so the D.C. Bar’s disciplinary process will determine whether Giuliani could have his license revoked permanently or if he could be allowed to practice law again.


Giuliani has continued to defend his actions as a lawyer in testimony over the first two days of his hearing against him and decried the attempt to punish him for his post-election litigation. “I am shocked and offended this is happening to me,” Giuliani said on Tuesday. Other post-election lawyers have similarly remained defiant despite the action being taken against them, with Powell telling Forbes in June that the action being taken against her by the Texas State Bar “should concern every practicing lawyer because now any lawyer can be subjected to the extraordinary harassment and expense of lawfare directed specifically at his or her law license whenever the other side disagrees with a filing.”


Which other 2020 election attorneys will face investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Activist group The 65 Project, which is dedicated to taking action against lawyers who helped efforts to overturn the election, is targeting 111 lawyers in 26 states, and has filed ethics complaints with state bars in an effort to have the attorneys punished. Those complaints have been filed as recently as October, so it may take months before they result in public reports of any concrete action. Among those who have had complaints brought against them—but have not yet been announced as being actively under investigation or sued by disciplinary committees—are Trump campaign attorney Jenna EllisCleta Mitchell, who participated in Trump’s call asking Georgia officials to “find” enough votes to overturn the election; Boris Epshteyn, who continues to advise Trump on legal issues; and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who pushed Trump’s false claims of election fraud and offered to represent the Trump campaign in post-election cases at the Supreme Court.


Giuliani and many of the other right-wing attorneys now facing consequences were behind more than 60 lawsuits in the aftermath of the 2020 election that broadly challenged results in battleground states, which were nearly all unsuccessful except for one minor lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The disciplinary actions being brought by state bars are part of a broader range of consequences those attorneys have faced for their actions in the two years since the election, which have so far also included lawyers such as Powell and Wood being sanctioned in federal court in Michigan and a series of defamation lawsuits brought by voting machine companies that Powell and her allies accused of fraud. The ethics complaint against Giuliani, which was brought by the bar after his D.C. license had already been suspended, was largely focused on the lawsuit the Trump campaign brought in Pennsylvania challenging its results, with Giuliani representing the campaign. That litigation failed in court multiple times, with a district judge declaring the campaign’s legal argument was “not how the Constitution works.”


Giuliani ‘weaponized’ law license in Trump election suit, D.C. Bar argues (Washington Post)

Rudy Giuliani Defends Failed Trump 2020 Election Challenge in DC Ethics Case (Bloomberg)

Sidney Powell Could Still Be Disbarred As Court Lets Case Against Her Move Forward (Forbes)

Campaign Targets 111 Trump-Linked Election Lawyers. Here’s Some Already Facing A Backlash. (Forbes)

With Giuliani’s Law License Suspended, Here Are The Other Trump Lawyers Who May Face Discipline Next (Forbes)


Inside the secretive effort by Trump allies to access voting machines

How rural Coffee County, Ga., became an early target in the multistate search for purported evidence of fraud after the 2020 election

By Emma Brown and Jon Swaine

October 28, 2022


The Post examination shows how unfounded suspicions in Coffee County spiraled into an alleged breach that was organized in part by pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and paid for by her nonprofit, which at the time counted former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn among its directors. This account is based on interviews and documents obtained through public-records requests as well as surveillance video, text messages, and depositions and other records that were gathered by the plaintiffs in the long-running lawsuit, who contend that Georgia’s elections are not secure.

In response to a request for comment, Powell referred The Post to her testimony before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. That testimony is not public. Flynn did not respond to similar inquiries.

In a statement, Dominion said, “No credible evidence has ever been presented to any court or authority that voting machines did anything other than count votes accurately and reliably in all states.”

[Boldface added]


Sidney Powell’s nonprofit raised $16 million as she spread election falsehoods

Defending the Republic, whose mission is to use the courts to “protect election integrity” and individual freedoms, reported that it spent about $8 million in the 12-month period ending Nov. 30, 2021. That sum included more than $3.8 million for legal services and another $2 million for “other” services, including litigation support. It said those services were provided by “nonemployees” it did not name.

The tax filings identify Powell as the president and treasurer of Defending the Republic and say she and the only other individuals named — two other directors and the chief financial officer — worked for no pay. However, the organization was only required to report on individuals’ compensation from Dec. 1, 2020 — the date it was founded — through Dec. 31, 2020. The filings were obtained by The Washington Post.

The new documents show that spreading election falsehoods is “incredibly lucrative,” said Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of the watchdog organization Documented, which scrutinizes the activities of nonprofits and corporations and also obtained the tax filings. But the filings, the organization’s Form 990 and related attachments submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, reveal “almost nothing about where the nonprofit’s millions in reported legal expenses are flowing,” he said.

In an email responding to detailed questions from The Post, Powell wrote: “Defending The Republic Inc. has independent accountants, legal counsel, and auditors. If there are errors or omissions in the 990, it will be corrected as soon as possible.”

Some of the money is going to a company that listed Powell as its manager and organizer when it was incorporated last year.

The company, 524 Old Towne, paid $1.2 million in April of last year for a property in the historic Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, Va. The sellers of the former antique shop have said they understood that Powell was the buyer and that she intended to establish a law office there. The tax filings show that Defending the Republic paid 524 Old Towne $80,000 in rent.


Previously, Defending The Republic had reported to Florida regulators that it raised $14.9 million during the first eight months after its founding, though that disclosure was far less detailed. The organization has focused much of its spending on “challenging issues and instances of government overreach and abuse of individual rights” and litigating “cases of constitutional infringement,” according to the new filings.

Powell first gained celebrity among Trump fans for defending former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn against charges that he lied to the FBI. Later, beginning in December 2020, Flynn and his brother Joseph were listed as directors of Defending the Republic, Texas business filings show.

Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive of Overstock and a prominent election denier, joined Defending the Republic as chief executive in 2021. Questions about how much money the organization had taken in, and where the money was going, helped sow division in the organization. In early April, Byrne, the Flynn brothers and several other people quit, The Post previously reported.

In a text message Thursday, Byrne said he was only involved with the nonprofit for 12 business days and emphasized that concern about the organization’s financial management was a reason for his and others’ departures. Joseph Flynn declined to comment, and Michael Flynn did not respond.

Powell was one of the most visible of a number of attorneys who went to court to challenge Joe Biden’s victory. After the legal challenges failed, Powell herself became the subject of legal action on multiple fronts.

Last year, the Justice Department subpoenaed documents related to Defending the Republic and a related political action committee, The Post has previously reported.

A federal judge in Michigan sanctioned Powell, calling one of her election-related lawsuits “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” The state bar of Texas has filed a lawsuit against her alleging professional misconduct. She has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Atlanta investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election. And she and Defending the Republic are named as defendants in a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, the company she targeted with conspiracy theories.

Dominion has accused Powell of using Defending the Republic dollars to “fund her own personal legal defense,” citing an interview she gave on Dec. 29, 2020, in which she described the organization as a “nonprofit that is working to help me defend all these cases and to defend me now that I’m under massive attack.” In an August 2021 deposition for a separate defamation case, one filed by a former Dominion executive, a representative of Defending the Republic was asked whether the organization was paying to defend Powell against either lawsuit. His lawyer instructed him not to answer.

Powell did not respond Thursday to a question from The Post about whether the nonprofit had paid for her personal legal defense.

In the deposition, the representative of the nonprofit said its work was not limited to election-related issues but instead included potential challenges to vaccine and mask mandates. The group filed several lawsuits challenging coronavirus vaccine mandates, including for U.S. military service members and federal contractors, court records show. It has also paid for the defense of some people facing charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to media reports.

The filings say that some of the money was allegedly misappropriated in what was reported as a “significant diversion.” An independent contractor working for the nonprofit “converted funds from contributions,” and the nonprofit has “authorized legal action to press charges” to recover the money, more than $520,000, the filings state. No other information was disclosed.

The filings show that Defending the Republic gave a $700,128 cash grant for equipment to Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company that Republican senators in Arizona hired to examine voting machines and ballots in Maricopa County. Cyber Ninjas said last year that Defending the Republic had donated $550,000 for the ballot review. Though election deniers claimed for months that the review would finally reveal evidence of election fraud, it instead reaffirmed Biden’s victory in the state.


Letters from an American, Heather Scott Smith

October 12, 2022

Dominion’s $1.3 billion lawsuit against Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who was a leading figure in pushing the lies that the voting machines were rigged, is also moving forward, although in March she asked a federal judge to dismiss the case against her, saying that “no reasonable person would conclude that [her] statements were truly statements of fact.” On September 28, a federal judge dismissed her countersuit, in which Powell claimed Dominion was suing her “to punish and make an example of her.”



The former president tried to sell his preferred version of himself, but said much more than he intended.

Sept. 25, 2022

[Former President Trump] was at his most animated when I asked about why he had trusted Sidney Powell, given the concerns his other advisers had had about her. Since then, Powell had faced libel suits from voting-machine manufacturers she had accused of corruption; her defense had been, essentially, that no one should have taken what she had to say seriously. “I was very disappointed in her statement,” Trump said. “That is so demeaning for her to say about herself.” Then he essentially read stage directions on how to use public claims in lawsuits. “All she had to say,” he said, “was ‘Upon information and belief, I think such and such.’ Now all she says there, was take a thousand stories that were written over the last 10 years long before all of this, that are bad stories,” he said, “and that is information and belief, she read them. And that’s the end of that case. That’s true for everybody: ‘It’s upon information and belief and let’s go to court to find out if it’s true.” [Boldface added]


Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

March 9, 2022 

This morning, former Trump attorney Sidney Powell was supposed to testify before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, about her involvement in a breach of election systems in Coffee County. The data firm whose operatives gained access to the system says it was hired by Powell. She did not appear for today’s scheduled interview.


The district attorney in Atlanta is seeking to build a broad conspiracy case that encompasses multifaceted efforts by Trump allies to disrupt and overturn the 2020 election.


The day after Donald J. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, a small group working on his behalf traveled to rural Coffee County, Ga., about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta.

One member of the group was Paul Maggio, an executive at a firm based in Atlanta called SullivanStrickler, which helps organizations analyze and manage their data. His company had been hired by Sidney Powell, a conspiracy theorist and lawyer advising Mr. Trump, who was tasked with scouring voting systems in Georgia and other states. It was part of an effort by Trump allies in a number of swing states to access and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly election administrators.

“We are on our way to Coffee County, Georgia, to collect what we can from the election/voting machines and systems,” Mr. Maggio wrote to Ms. Powell on the morning of Jan. 7, 2021, according to an email exchange that recently emerged in civil litigation. Weeks later, Scott Hall, an Atlanta-area Trump supporter and bail bondsman who traveled to Coffee County on a chartered plane, described what he and the group did there.

“We scanned every freaking ballot,” he said in a recorded phone conversation in March 2021. Mr. Hall said that the team had the blessing of the local elections board and “scanned all the equipment, imaged all the hard drives and scanned every single ballot.”

This week, court filings revealed that the Coffee County data breach is now part of the sprawling investigation into election interference being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta.

Though Coffee County is well outside of her jurisdiction, Ms. Willis is seeking to build a broad conspiracy and racketeering case that encompasses multifaceted efforts by Trump allies to disrupt and overturn the lawful election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. On Aug. 16, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also confirmed that it was working with the Georgia secretary of state’s office on an investigation into the Coffee County data breach, court records show. Many of the details of the Coffee County visit were included in emails and texts that surfaced in civil litigation brought by voting rights activists against Georgia’s secretary of state; news of the breach was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

Similar breaches coordinated by Trump allies played out in several swing states. This month, Michigan’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, a Democrat, sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate data breaches there. She is seeking to remove herself from the case because one of the people potentially implicated in the scheme is her likely Republican election opponent, Matthew DePerno.

Read More

As a lawyer who advised Mr. Trump after the election, Ms. Powell made a number of specious claims about election fraud, including an assertion that Democrats had “developed a computer system to alter votes electronically.”

Ms. Powell is among those who have been sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems, the company that provides the voting machines for Coffee County and the rest of Georgia. As part of that suit, lawyers for Ms. Powell have argued that “no reasonable person would conclude” that some of her wilder statements “were truly statements of fact.

Fulton County prosecutors are seeking to have Ms. Powell testify before the special grand jury next month. In their court filing this week, they said that she possessed “unique knowledge” about post election meetings held at the South Carolina plantation of L. Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist. Mr. Wood, prosecutors wrote, stated that he and a group of other Trump supporters, including Ms. Powell and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, met at the plantation to explore “options to influence the results” of the 2020 election “in Georgia and elsewhere.

Ms. Willis’s office cited the Coffee County data breach in its filing on Thursday seeking Ms. Powell’s testimony, which was the first time the matter had surfaced in connection with her investigation. It remains unclear to what extent Ms. Willis’s office will focus on the Coffee County matter in her inquiry, or what, if any, charges could flow from it.

“There are a variety of avenues the state has to bring criminal charges,” said David D. Cross, a lawyer representing plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit brought by civic groups against the Georgia secretary of state’s office over election security. “There are specific laws in Georgia that prevent access to voting equipment in particular,” he said, as well as “general laws about accessing computer equipment that doesn’t belong to you.”

Mr. Trump won nearly 70 percent of Coffee County, which is home to just 43,000 people. Trump officials most likely targeted the county’s voting system because the county was run by friendly officials who were eager to cooperate. Cathy Latham, who was chair of the local Republican Party at the time, was also one of 16 pro-Trump fake electors who convened in the Georgia State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, despite Mr. Trump’s loss in the state. All of them, including Ms. Latham, have been identified as targets of Ms. Willis’s investigation.

The costs of election security breaches have been onerous. In Antrim County, Mich., which was at the forefront of efforts to overturn the election, Sheryl Guy, the clerk, said on Thursday that officials had to rent voting equipment to replace equipment that is being held as evidence in civil litigation.

In Colorado, the secretary of state’s office estimated that taxpayers incurred a bill of at least $1 million to replace voting equipment in Mesa County after a pro-Trump election supervisor was indicted on charges that she tampered with the equipment after the 2020 election.

Election experts noted that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, recommended that the safest course of action was to decommission voting equipment that has been compromised.

“We’re getting to the point where this is happening at an alarming rate,” Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Elections and Government Program at the Brennan Center, said in an interview on Thursday. “When election officials permit or facilitate untrustworthy actors in gaining access to the system without any oversight, that is in and of itself going to leave the public questioning whether they trust these systems.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.

Danny Hakim is an investigative reporter. He has been a European economics correspondent and bureau chief in Albany and Detroit. He was also a lead reporter on the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.

Neil Vigdor covers political news for The Times.

Richard Fausset is a correspondent based in Atlanta. He mainly writes about the American South, focusing on politics, culture, race, poverty and criminal justice. He previously worked at The Los Angeles Times, including as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City.

Building the “Big Lie”: Inside the Creation of Trump’s Stolen Election Myth — ProPublica

Internal emails and interviews with key participants reveal for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the rigged election theory touted evidence they knew to be disproven, disputed or dismissed as dubious.

ProPublica has obtained a trove of internal emails and other documentation that, taken together, tell the inside story of a group of people who propagated a number of the most pervasive theories about how the election was stolen, especially that voting machines were to blame, and helped move them from the far-right fringe to the center of the Republican Party.

Those records, as well as interviews with key participants, show for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the stolen-election theory touted evidence that they knew to be disproven or that had been credibly disputed or dismissed as dubious by operatives within their own camp. Some members of the coalition presented this mix of unreliable witnesses, unconfirmed rumor and suspect analyses as fact in published reports, talking points and court documents. In several cases, their assertions became the basis for Trump’s claims that the election had been rigged.

Our examination of their actions from the 2020 election to the present day reveals a pattern. Many members of the coalition would advance a theory based on evidence that was never vetted or that they’d been told was flawed; then, when the theory was debunked, they’d move on to the next alternative and then the next.

The coalition includes several figures who have attracted national attention. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as national security adviser to Trump before pleading guilty to lying to law enforcement about his contacts with Russian officials, is the most well known. Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of who left his position after his romantic relationship with the convicted Russian agent Maria Butina became public, is the coalition’s chief financier and a frequent intermediary with the press. Powell, who represented Flynn in his attempt to reverse his guilty plea, spearheaded efforts in the courts.

Follow disclosure of Sidney Powell’s promotion of the Big Lie through these news accounts, past to present:


Trump allies did little to investigate election fraud claims, court documents show

By Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Updated October 7, 2021

Allies of former President Donald Trump testified under oath that they did little to check out some of the uncorroborated claims they made about 2020 election fraud before amplifying them on the national stage, according to newly available court records reviewed by CNN. 

While the bogus fraud claims have long been debunked, these latest revelations are being made in sworn depositions and highlight how little vetting was done by certain Trump allies seeking to spread doubt about the integrity of the presidential election results. 

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The more than 2,000 pages of documents reviewed by CNN provide the most significant look yet at evidence collected in several defamation cases brought against top Trump mouthpieces. In this lawsuit, former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer alleges he was defamed by the Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and prominent conservatives. [Boldface added]

According to the account that Giuliani gave in the case, he spent less than an hour reviewing allegations that Coomer was part of a plot to rig the election before publicly making those claims at a November press conference. 

And when Powell was deposed by Coomer’s lawyer, she acknowledged that she did not have “a lot of specific knowledge about what Mr. Coomer personally did” in the supposed scheme to steal the election.

The new documents have already been cited in at least one other case stemming from bogus election fraud claims, where Wisconsin state officials are seeking sanctions against Powell for making those claims there. The Wisconsin officials say Powell and other Trump-aligned lawyers failed at “even the most basic” effort to verify conspiracy theories. 

[Boldface added]


Judge orders two lawyers who filed suit challenging 2020 election to pay hefty fees: ‘They need to take responsibility’

By Rosalind S. Helderman

November 23, 2021 

A federal judge has ordered two Colorado lawyers who filed a lawsuit late last year challenging the 2020 election results to pay nearly $187,000 to defray the legal fees of groups they sued, arguing that the hefty penalty was proper to deter others from using frivolous suits to undermine the democratic system.

“As officers of the Court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government,” Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter wrote.

The two argued that a scheme was engineered by the voting machine vendor Dominion Voting Systems; the tech company Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; and elected officials in four states. They had sought $160 billion in damages. (Boldface added]

Their case was dismissed in April. In August, Neureiter ruled that the attorneys had violated their ethical obligations by filing it in the first place, arguing that the duo had run afoul of legal rules that prohibit clogging the courts with frivolous motions and lodging information in court that is not true. At the time, he called their suit “the stuff of which violent insurrections are made,” alleging they made little effort to determine the truth of their conspiratorial claims before filing them in court. He ordered them to pay the legal fees of all of the many entities they had sued.



“Kracken Queen” Sidney Powell is Now on Trump’s “No-Go” List

“Her problems right now do not need to be the [former] president’s problems,” one knowledgeable source said.

Adam Rawnsley, Senior Researcher

Asawin Suebsaeng, Senior Political Reporter

Updated Oct. 02, 2021  / Published Oct. 01, 2021

Being Sidney Powell is harder than it used to be.

Once, she was a key player in Donald Trump’s inner circle. These days, she might have trouble just getting in the front door.

The “Kraken” queen long ago removed herself from acceptability among the more respectable GOP circles with a constant stream of bizarre election conspiracy theories. But knowledgeable sources tell The Daily Beast that the places she’s unwelcome now include Trump properties, where advisers look to keep the former president away from her.

Her unrelenting antics have put her on an informal list of people to intercept should they ever appear, or if they even just try to call the 45th U.S. president.

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Powell is facing a number of legal headaches. She and her nonprofit, Defending the Republic, are both named as defendants in a billion-dollar defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems. She’s been sanctioned by a Michigan judge for filing a frivolous election suit in the state, faces calls for her disbarment in Texas, and her nonprofit is still waiting to find out its punishment for running afoul of Florida’s rules for charity fundraising. Despite the mounting challenges, Powell was still posting new election conspiracy theories to her nonprofit’s website as recently as Wednesday.

MAGAworld and the conservative movement have shown themselves to be disturbingly fertile ground for election-related conspiracy theories and lies, particularly those used to crack down on voting rights. And yet Powell’s behavior and some of her debunked claims have—nearly a full year after Election Night 2020—continued to alienate her from other leading Trump loyalists, MAGA celebs, and the broader movement.

And yet, Powell’s conduct has somehow proven just a little tooembarrassing for many of them—including, it appears, Donald Trump himself.

Two lawyers who currently work for Trump or in the former president’s inner orbit say they want absolutely nothing to do with her and have cautioned others in MAGAland to do the same. One said they’d recently deleted her phone number.

Two other people familiar with the matter said that ever since he left office in January, certain advisers and longtime associates to Trump have kept an informal shortlist of people who they should look out for, including at Trump’s private clubs or offices in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. The point of this roster is to intercept and possibly rebuff attempted outreach, visits, or phone calls from a handful of conservative figures who could bring the ex-president more undesired headaches.


Election-fraud conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell pressed by Australian reporter: ‘Do you ever hear yourself and think that it sounds ridiculous?’

Morgan Keith 

Aug 31, 2021

During an interview for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s two-part series “Fox and the Big Lie,” Sidney Powell struggled to respond to errors that the correspondent Sarah Ferguson pointed out in her claims and threatened to end the interview.

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Powell was one of several public figures who propagated the “Big Lie” that mass voter fraud cost Donald Trump the 2020 election. The voting-machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic have filed defamation lawsuits against Powell over her involvement in spreading the baseless conspiracy theory.

At one point during the interview, Powell responded to a line of questioning by asking Ferguson if she worked for Smartmatic and saying she was confused about why Ferguson had come to interview her.

“Because you’ve made a series of very strong allegations against Smartmatic and against Dominion containing many errors of fact,” Ferguson responded.

Shortly after, Powell tried to stop the interview, saying it was “wholly inappropriate” because of pending litigation.

After returning to finish the interview, Powell stuck by her baseless claims about widespread election fraud.

“I am saying that thousands of Americans had some role in it, knowingly or unknowingly,” Powell said. “It was essentially a bloodless coup where they took over the presidency of the United States without a single shot being fired.”

When Powell claimed that the fraud had been planned for at least three years, Ferguson asked, “Do you ever hear yourself and think that it sounds ridiculous?”

“No, I know myself very well. I’ve been in me a long time. I know my reputation. I know my level of integrity,” Powell replied.

Powell formerly served as a federal prosecutor and represented Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor who pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI investigators in 2017 and was later pardoned by Trump.

On Wednesday, a US judge ruled that Powell and Lin Wood, another attorney who worked with Powell to sue election officials, had engaged in “historic and profound abuse” of the legal system.

Their case “was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so,” the ruling said.


Legal experts welcome sanctions of pro-Trump lawyers, say more needed

BY JOHN KRUZEL – 08/28/21


Attorneys behind some of the dubious litigation over former President Trump’s 2020 election loss were sanctioned this week by a federal judge in a move that was welcomed by legal ethics experts.

More disciplinary steps are needed to deter efforts to undermine future U.S. elections, said experts who spoke to The Hill, adding that the system for holding pro-Trump election lawyers to account was working as it should.

“The wheels of ethical accountability grind slowly but deliberately,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer. “Within the span of 10 months, we have seen both state bars and the courts take action against those lawyers who took their propagation of Trump’s conspiratorial fantasies out of the cable news studio and into the courtroom.” 

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Following President Biden’’s win at the ballot box, pro-Trump attorneys filed dozens of lawsuits based on unfounded claims contesting the election’s legitimacy. The litigation persisted even after the attorneys collectively racked up an abysmal record in court, winning only a single minor case while losing some 60 others.

Although some Trump-allied attorneys characterized their actions as hard-fought advocacy, critics say they crossed an ethical red line by deploying politically motivated disinformation to advance Trump’s “big lie” that the election was stolen from him.

Concerns about holding pro-Trump lawyers accountable for baseless election litigation have grown more pressing in light of fears that the 2024 presidential election could see even more sophisticated efforts to use the courts to subvert the results. Several legal ethics experts said appropriate punishment should include years-long suspension from legal practice and even disbarment.

“Lawyers who file baseless lawsuits for propaganda purposes are engaging in fraud on the public and harming our democratic institutions,” said Barbara McQuade, a federal prosecutor during the Obama administration who is now a law professor at the University of Michigan. “For that reason, strong sanctions are needed to deter lawyers from enabling the weaponization of false information.”

A fresh round of punishment came this week when a federal judge in Michigan sanctioned nine pro-Trump attorneys, saying their lawsuit over the former president’s 2020 election defeat amounted to a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

“This case was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so,” wrote Judge Linda Parker, an Obama appointee to the federal district court in Detroit.

The sanctions were levied against some of the higher-profile Trump-allied lawyers, including Sidney Powell [boldface added] and Lin Wood, whom Parker ordered to pay the legal fees of their opposing parties and referred to state bar authorities for further discipline.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), one of the defendants in the case who asked the court to impose disciplinary action, praised the outcome on Wednesday.

“While the mob on January 6th physically assaulted our democracy, Sidney Powell and other lawyers continued to do so in our courts,” Whitmer said in a statement. “They launched dozens of lawsuits, exploiting the legal system to undermine a free and fair election. The courts rejected all of them.”

“Today’s ruling sends a clear message: Those who seek to overturn an American election and poison the well of American democracy will face consequences,” she added.

Biden defeated Trump in Michigan by around 154,000 votes, or 2.7 percentage points.

Legal ethics experts who spoke to The Hill pointed to Parker’s ruling as a model for others tasked with meting out discipline.

“I think Judge Parker got it exactly right in Michigan,” Steven Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern University, said. “She carefully reviewed the allegations and explained why each one lacked factual support or legal merit.”


The Reckoning Begins for Trump’s Lawyers

Editorial Credit:   Manuel Balce Ceneta

August 27, 2021

In the tumultuous aftermath of last November’s elections, lawyers in Texas, Michigan, Colorado and elsewhere who represented the interests of Donald J. Trump repeatedly filed lawsuits in federal courts asserting “factual” claims about the election process that had no basis in fact. 

For example, in Michigan, Sydney Powell, L. Lin Wood, and several other lawyers filed an action in federal court seeking an order declaring that President Trump had won that state’s election, notwithstanding a vote count showing that Joe Biden was the victor. In Colorado, lawyers filed an action asserting, among other things, that voting machines had deleted nearly 3 million votes cast across the nation in favor of President Trump.

Those lawsuits and others like them were nonsense. But the publicity they generated was part of an outbreak of baseless claims designed to undermine popular belief in the accuracy of the election results showing that Biden had won.

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The federal lawsuits had a particularly significant role in undermining trust in our election system. In America, there is, and always has been, widespread faith in the rule of law, the integrity of the process by which the rule of law is implemented, and the role of lawyers participating ethically in an adversary system to ensure that integrity. When lawyers file legal claims containing sensational allegations, the fact that lawyers filed them gives at least some credibility to the purportedly factual allegations they contain.

The filing of those lawsuits and others like them had a role in sowing doubt about the election’s integrity–even after the suits were dismissed. And there can be little question that the doubt they inspired had an impact on events that occurred in the tumultuous months that followed the November election.

Now, though, the reckoning has begun. This week in Michigan, United States District Court Judge Linda V. Parker imposed substantial sanctions on Sydney Powell, L. Lin Wood, and seven other lawyers for their roles in filing a November 25, 2020 lawsuit asking for a declaration that Donald Trump had won the Michigan presidential election. Before imposing her specific sanctions, Judge Parker summarized what that lawsuit was about.

“This lawsuit,” she wrote, “represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process. It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here.” And, as she emphasized, “…this case was never about fraud – it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.”

Lawyers Defending American Democracy applauds Judge Parker’s decision and her 110 pages of detailed, clear, and carefully crafted findings showing that Powell, Wood, and the others who filed the complaint knew that they had no basis for the claims they were making. Indeed, so clearly did they know the baseless nature of their allegations that, as Judge Parker observed, each one of them filed motions in the sanction proceedings to distance themselves, claiming that they had had no responsibility for the allegations they asserted in their complaint.Earlier in August, United States Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter of Colorado issued a 68-page opinion imposing sanctions on attorneys who filed a complaint that, in the judge’s words, “purported to be a class action suit” on behalf of 160 million Americans claiming, among other things, that voting machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems had “deleted 2.7 million Votes nationwide.” The action sought $160 billion in damages from Dominion, Facebook, and elected officials in four different states. In his opinion, Judge Neureiter said that the complaint was “one enormous conspiracy theory. . . Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made.”

As sanctions, both Judge Parker and Judge Neureiter ordered the lawyers to pay the fees and costs incurred by the defendants in defending their frivolous lawsuits. In addition, Judge Parker took the extraordinary step of ordering the lawyers to take CLE courses on pleading standards and election law. She also transmitted her opinion to the disciplinary authorities in each of the states where the attorneys had been admitted to the bar “for investigation of possible suspension or disbarment,” in addition to recommending bar discipline in Michigan.

In June, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court suspended Rudy Giuliani from the practice of law, pending the final disposition of an ethics complaint against him, for “communicat[ing] demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump.” The unusual interim suspension of Giuliani was warranted, in the Court’s view, because his conduct “immediately threaten[ed] the public interest.”

Those opinions are clear, careful, and thoughtful. They leave no doubt about the baseless nature of the claims in the complaints and the consequences for lawyers who similarly assert falsehoods before the court. These decisions are enormously helpful in holding lawyers to account.

But sanctions are not enough. Our democracy and the rule of law on which it rests are fragile things. They require the vigilance and support of all lawyers across this great nation–regardless of political affiliation.

Members of the legal profession may differ vigorously on desired judicial outcomes, but we must all strive to ensure the integrity of the process by which such outcomes are determined. We must shun members of our great profession and others who seek to pollute that process with the kinds of manufactured falsehoods these lawyers invented and repeated. 


Judge sanctions pro-Trump lawyers who brought ‘frivolous’ election fraud lawsuits

By Tierney Sneed, CNN

Updated August 26, 2021


(CNN) A federal judge ordered sanctions Wednesday for Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and several other lawyers who worked on Trump-aligned lawsuits seeking to challenge the results of the 2020 election.

US District Judge Linda Parker, of the Eastern District of Michigan said the lawyers had “engaged in litigation practices” that were “abusive and, in turn, sanctionable.”

“Sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted,” the judge wrote in a 110-page opinion.

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Parker is ordering the lawyers to reimburse the attorneys’ fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid in seeking the sanctions. The lawyers must also take legal education classes, the judge said, and she is referring her decision to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, and “the appropriate disciplinary authority for the jurisdiction(s) where each attorney is admitted,” for potential disciplinary action. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, praised the judge’s ruling on Wednesday, saying in a statement that it “sends a clear message: those who seek to overturn an American election and poison the well of American democracy will face consequences.”


Judge rules that Sidney Powell and Lin Wood engaged in ‘historic and profound abuse’ of legal system, approves punishment

  • Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood failed to present evidence to support their claims of fraud, a judge ruled.
  • Their post-election litigation constituted an abuse of the legal system, the court declared.
  • The attorneys will have to attend at least 12 hours of legal education.

A US judge has ruled that the pro-Trump attorneys who sued Michigan officials over false claims they broke state election law and manipulated the vote will have to pay the defendants’ legal fees and face sanctions over unethical behavior.

The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, among others, following former President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. President Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 155,000 votes in what state and national officials described as an election that was “the most secure in American history.”

In a scathing ruling issued on Thursday, US District Judge Linda V. Parker said Powell and Wood had engaged in a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” Their claims — made against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the City of Detroit, and state election officials — were not just flimsy and unfounded, alleging a massive and implausible conspiracy to steal the election, Parker said, but actively harmful.

This case “was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so,” the judge wrote.

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Thursday’s order grants the defendants’ motion for unspecified sanctions, instructs the attorneys to pay any fees incurred by their litigation, and instructs the lawyers to complete at least 12 hours of legal education within the next six months on election law and pleading standards. The order also refers to them for potentially further disciplinary action, including disbarment.

Parker provided numerous instances of what she termed legal abuse. In one example, the lawyers claimed to have evidence that votes were changed by election workers. Asked for evidence, they presented an affidavit from a woman who said only that “I believe some of these workers were changing votes.” Asked if that woman had actually seen that, “The Court was met with silence.”

In another instance, the judge noted that the lawyers claimed ballots were run through tabulation machine more than once — and that there is no legal reason to do so. “But bafflingly, Plaintiff’s counsel did not offer a cite to the law violated,” the judge wrote. In fact, however, there are a “myriad of reasons” why ballots might be run through a machine several times, such as if the reader is jammed.


Group run by Sidney Powell, who fought Biden’s election, gets Florida approval

Defending the Republic, a fund raiser based in West Palm Beach, faces punishment for beginning operations before registering.

By Associated Press

Published Jul. 22


 In the paperwork filed with the state, Defending the Republic said it expects to raise almost $7.2 million during a fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. It said $6 million will be spent on undefined programs, $900,000 on management and nearly $300,000 on fundraising. Among its purposes listed, it says it will “take action in courts across the country to protect election integrity.”

 Trump and his allies filed more than 50 lawsuits in multiple states over the election and lost at every turn. Powell and Rudy Giuliani were among the lawyers behind the cases claiming a conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election, despite Republican state leaders, Trump’s own attorney general and other administration officials publicly stating there was no major election fraud. Powell appeared with Giuliani at a news conference and made multiple media appearances.

 But after Powell threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing, the Trump legal team distanced itself from her, saying she was not working on their behalf. Still, she continues to be one of Trump’s most vociferous supporters.

She is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems after she alleged it helped rig the election for Biden by manufacturing machines that could flip votes from Trump to Biden.

The Denver-based company claims Powell has raided Defending the Republic’s coffers to pay for personal legal expenses, citing her own remarks from a radio interview.


Judge Shuts Down Sidney Powell And ‘Kraken’ Lawyers’ Request To Release Michigan Hearing Video As Lin Wood Faces Fresh Sanctions Threat

By Alison Durkee

 Updated Jul 14, 2021,

The Michigan lawsuit is one of four that Powell and her co-counsel brought in battleground states alleging fraud, a legal strategy Powell described as “releas[ing] the Kraken” after the 1981 film The Clash of the Titans. All four lawsuits failed both in the lower courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court, however, with Parker dismissingthe Michigan case as based on “nothing but speculation and conjecture.” In addition to the Michigan sanctions effort, Powell and the other ‘Kraken’ attorneys are also facing a separate disbarment effort in Michigan and other potential consequences in Arizona and Wisconsin, and Wood is under investigation by the State Bar of Georgiafor his post-election conduct attempting to overturn the election.


Olivia Rubin

June 25, 2021

Former Trump legal team member Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell appeared in court in Washington, D.C., for a hearing in the billion-dollar defamation lawsuits brought by Dominion Voting Systems, the voting machine company at the center of numerous conspiracy theories related to the election.


Sidney Powell Claims Trump ‘Can Simply Be Reinstated,’ Biden Told to Leave White House



Attorney Sidney Powell, who filed baseless 2020 election challenges on behalf of former President Donald Trump, insisted on Saturday that the Republican politician “can simply be reinstated”—continuing to promote conspiracy theories and misinformation about President Joe Biden‘s victory.

Powell made the remarks during the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup” conference in Dallas this weekend. Also speaking at the event was retired general Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security who has also repeatedly pushed false claims about the 2020 election.

“He can simply be reinstated,” Powell said of Trump during the conference. The crowd cheered loudly in response to her groundless claims.


Mar. 12, 2021

Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell is claiming in a new court filing that reasonable people wouldn’t have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.

The election infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems sued Powell for defamation after she pushed lawsuits and made appearances in conservative media on behalf of then-President Donald Trump to sow doubt about the 2020 election results. Dominion claims that Powell knew her election fraud accusations were false and hurtful to the company.

In a new court filing, Powell’s attorneys write that she was sharing her “opinion” and that the public could reach “their own conclusions” about whether votes were changed by election machines.

Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan, one of the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January after the January 6 Capitol attack, tweeted that Powell’s argument is “pathetic.”

Though the Trump campaign had sought to distance itself from Powell after she held a conspiracy-filled news conference with his other attorneys, Trump had told people he liked Powell’s arguments and wanted to see more of her on television. 

In one chaotic Oval Office meeting in December, Trump said he had considered naming her as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud allegations.

The lawsuit — filed in January — outlined Powell’s TV appearances and online posts in extraordinary detail, including when she repeated her unfounded beliefs that Dominion was linked to communist Venezuela and Georgia officials were in on election fraud.

“Emboldened by Trump’s endorsement of her false accusations, which launched her into political superstardom, Powell’s defamatory media campaign continued and intensified” with her media appearances, Dominion alleged in its lawsuit. 


“For Trump advocate Sidney Powell, a playbook steeped in conspiracy theories” 

Jan. 8, 2021 

Powell served on Donald Trump’s legal team and has remained a leading purveyor of outlandish allegations about the election. In alleging broad conspiracies and questioning the motives and actions of multiple government institutions and officials, she has followed a playbook she has drawn from in the past., Nov. 28, 2020:

Dominion Voting Systems, a leading provider of election technology, brought a $1.3 billion defamation suit against Powell, alleging that her false and outlandish claims about fraud in the 2020 election caused the company unprecedented harm. 


Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump’s Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation

By Michael S. Schmidt

Jan. 4, 2018

Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”

He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986., Jan. 4, 2018


Sidney Powell’s secret ‘military intelligence expert,’ key to fraud claims in election lawsuits, never worked in military intelligence

In her lawsuits, Powell describes the purported credentials of the witness known by the code name ‘Spyder.’ The witness told The Post that he spent most of his time in the service as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.

By Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis and Alice Crites

October 23, 2021


What happens when the administration is hinged on the unhinged?

By Mary Ellen Curtin

November 26, 2021


[A]s ABC newsman Jonathan Karl explains in “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” Trump chose to launch a violent insurrection that upended the peaceful transfer of power.

Karl argues that although the seeds of Jan. 6 were planted in 2020, the ultimate betrayal occurred between Dec. 14 and Jan. 6, when an erratic and angry president decided to stay in office, even at the cost of law, human life and physical damage to the United States Capitol. Karl details Trump’s multipronged attempts to subvert the outcome of the electoral vote. Trump met for hours with Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, who came up with a plan for the president to declare a national emergency and seize voting machines, but the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, refused to comply. Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that he “find” more votes, and asked Republican legislators in Michigan and Pennsylvania to turn in only his electoral votes. They refused. He threatened to oust acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen unless he agreed to pressure Georgia to overturn Biden’s victory in that state. Confronted with the opposition of his own lawyers and the DOJ, Trump backed down. But now he would do something even more reckless. [Boldface added].


Prosecutors demanded records of Sidney Powell’s fundraising groups as part of criminal probe

November 30, 2021

Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post.

The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe.

As part of the investigation, which has not been previously reported, prosecutors are seeking records going back to Nov. 1, 2020.

The subpoena reviewed by The Post was signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who is also handling politically charged matters related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including contempt of Congress charges brought against former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon for refusing to testify in front of the House committee investigating the pro-Trump riot.

The federal investigation highlights the intensifying legal quandaries facing Trump-allied attorneys and other figures who promoted false claims that the election was rigged. Earlier this year, Defending the Republic was fined by Florida authorities and named in a federal defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based company portrayed by Powell as part of a plot to steal the 2020 election.

Powell, a former federal prosecutor who gained prominence on the right while representing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, became a leading figure in efforts to use the courts to overturn the 2020 vote. In media interviews after the election, and in a news conference held jointly with Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, she alleged a vast scheme to manipulate voting machines to steal the election from Trump.

Her fantastical claims formed the basis of lawsuits she filed on behalf of voters and Trump electors challenging the results in multiple states. The lawsuits failed to convince judges, who dismissed each as groundless.

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Meanwhile, Powell was soliciting contributions from Trump supporters to help fund her efforts. She began asking for donations as early as Nov. 10, 2020, a week after the election, telling viewers of the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” show on Fox Business that she had started a website called where they could donate.

Visitors reached a site that requested donations to support her election litigation. “Over $500,000 must be raised in the next twenty-four hours for these suits to be filed. Millions more will need to be raised to ensure victory,” the site stated around that time, according to an archived version.

By Nov. 25, 2020, the day Powell filed the first two of her lawsuits claiming widespread fraud, the website included a large picture of Powell and said her aim was to use the courts to block the certification of Biden’s victory. The website solicited donations for “Sidney Powell’s Legal Defense Fund” and indicated to potential donors that they would be contributing to a 501(c) 4 social welfare organization. Donors were asked to make checks payable to Sidney Powell P.C., Powell’s law firm.

It was not until Dec. 1, 2020, that Defending the Republic was incorporated as a business in Texas, with Powell listed as its agent and director, according to state records. An authorized representative for the group, Brandon Johnson, said in an August deposition taken as part of a defamation lawsuit against Powell that he knew nothing about donations made online before Dec. 1. “I don’t know where they went, but they did not go to Defending the Republic,” Johnson said in the deposition.

It is not clear how much money the organization has raised since it was incorporated or how that money has been spent. Defending the Republic contributed $550,000 to fund a Republican-commissioned review of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast last year in Arizona, according to an accounting released in July by Cyber Ninjas, a contractor that led the review.

Powell, when asked in a July deposition whether her law firm would receive compensation through donations made to Defending the Republic, replied, “I certainly hope we will,” maintaining that her firm had not been paid for bringing election-related lawsuits.

In an estimated budget submitted this summer to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Defending the Republic projected revenue from donations of just over $7 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The organization prepared the budget following a state complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida law, including failure to comply with charity registration law, and obtaining contributions by means of “deception, false pretense, misrepresentation, or false promise.” Defending the Republic paid a $10,000 fine to resolve the complaint, according to a settlement agreement reviewed by The Post.

Johnson, in his August deposition, said that Defending the Republic was an “educational and charitable organization” and that its nonprofit status was “pending” with the Internal Revenue Service. Its mission, he said, includes “election integrity and, you know, educating the public about what it means to preserve and protect the republic.” He also said the group was advising clients seeking to contest vaccine and mask requirements.

According to Johnson’s deposition, the group’s directors have included Flynn and Flynn’s brother Joseph Flynn, as well as Patrick Byrne, the millionaire founder of The Flynn brothers are listed as directors, alongside Powell, in corporate records filed in December 2020. Both brothers, as well as Byrne, have departed their roles, Johnson said in his deposition.

Byrne told The Post he agreed to serve as chief executive of Defending the Republic at Powell’s request in March, but left after only a few weeks in early April, in part because of different management styles and concerns about the business’s financial oversight. He said that he doesn’t know how much Powell had raised and that when he urged a full audit of the organization’s finances, she resisted. Byrne said the Flynn brothers and the executive staff left the organization on the same day he did. He said he hasn’t communicated with Powell since he departed and he has not received a subpoena.

Neither of the Flynn brothers responded to requests for comment. Johnson also did not respond.

Johnson and Powell were deposed as part of an ongoing defamation lawsuit pursued in Colorado by a former Dominion employee against Powell and other individuals and organizations involved in challenging the results of the 2020 election.

Defending the Republic is also in Dominion’s crosshairs in federal court. A lawsuit filed by the company against Powell and her law firm in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also names Defending the Republic as a defendant. A filing in May claims Powell “treated the entity’s funds as her personal funds, redirecting them to the law firm she controls and dominates and raiding them to pay for her personal legal defense.”

Dominion has pointed to an interview Powell gave late last year on “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” in which she asked listeners to visit Defending the Republic’s website to make a contribution, saying the group was “working to help defend all these cases and to defend me now that I’m under a massive attack from the attorney general of Michigan and the city of Detroit and everything else.” Lawyers there filed motions for Powell to cover their legal costs, which she and a handful of her associates were ultimately ordered to do.

A counterclaim filed by the defendants against Dominion in September denies the allegations, allowing only that Defending the Republic is a Texas nonprofit with the same mailing address as Powell’s law firm.

Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.


Feds Are Asking Questions About Sidney Powell and Her Pro-Trump Group

This is just the latest problem for the embattled “Kraken Queen.”


Powell created Defending the Republic with great fanfare in December 2020 and listed a who’s who of pro-Trump election conspiracy world on its incorporation paperwork. The group’s board originally included former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn, his brother Joe, and QAnon enthusiast Lin Wood, a fellow Trump-connected lawyer who recently started feuding with Powell. Attorneys for Defending the Republic claim that Wood was mistakenly listed as a board member and subsequently removed from registration filings. founder Patrick Byrne, who briefly served as Defending the Republic’s CEO, says he had his own concerns about the group’s finances.

In a phone call with Wood that Wood surreptitiously recorded, Byrne claimed that Byrne, Michael Flynn, and Flynn’s brother Joseph Flynn quit the group in April after Powell refused to allow an audit of Defending the Republic’s accounts.

According to Byrne, Powell had received a wave of donations in the aftermath of the election after being praised by mega-popular right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh. But the donations were often given haphazardly, sometimes as a dollar bill or quarter taped to a postcard addressed to Powell’s law office. Byrne claims he discovered that Powell had amassed a fortune in contributions, somewhere between $20 and $30 million but provided no evidence to support the claim. A projected budget for Defending the Republic filed with the state of Florida lists only $7 million in revenue for the group.

Defending the Republic’s funds weren’t going towards the pro-Trump goals donors likely envisioned, according to Byrne. Instead, he claimed they were spent on paying legal bills for Powell, who has faced court disciplinary issues and a daunting billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

“It shouldn’t be called ‘Defending the Republic,’” Byrne said in the recording. “It should be called ‘Defending the Sidney Powell.’”

Attorneys for Dominion have also raised questions about the finances for Defending the Republic, which the voting technology company has sued alongside Powell. In court documents filed in May, Dominion accused Powell of “raiding [Defending the Republic’s funds] to pay for her personal legal defense.”

Dominion attorneys claimed in the filing that Powell began soliciting donations to Defending the Republic before officially incorporating the group. That sequence, they argued, meant that donations for the group “could not have been maintained separately in a bank account” and “would have necessarily been commingled in bank accounts controlled by [Powell].”


Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

December 3, 2021

But legal repercussions for participation in the Big Lie are beginning to mount. A federal judge in Michigan has ordered nine lawyers, led by Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, to pay about $150,000 to Detroit and $22,000 to Michigan to cover the costs incurred when the lawyers launched a frivolous lawsuit in the so-called “Kraken” cases over the 2020 election. A federal judge in Colorado made a similar decision last week, ordering two lawyers who sued frivolously over the 2020 results to pay about $187,000 to the officials and companies they sued.


Judge rejects Fox News request to dismiss Dominion Voting’s defamation lawsuit over election claims

By Timothy Bella

December 17, 2021


A judge on Thursday rejected a request from Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over baseless claims made against the company during the 2020 presidential election, allowing the suit to move forward.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said it was “reasonably conceivable” for the Denver-based voting-machine company to have a defamation claim.

“The Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth,” Davis wrote in a 52-page ruling. “Whether Dominion ultimately will prove Fox’s actual malice by clear and convincing evidence is irrelevant on a motion to dismiss. … Accordingly, Fox’s Motion should be denied.”

Dominion filed the lawsuit against Fox News earlier this year, claiming that some of its highest-profile on-air talent helped elevate false charges that the company had changed votes to favor Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump.

The lawsuit claims that hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro brought Trump allies onto their shows to spread lies asserting that Dominion was using algorithms in voting machines that were created in Venezuela to rig multiple elections for Hugo Chávez, the late president.

Dominion alerted Fox News and its anchors to information disproving the false claims being broadcast against the company, according to the judge. The allegations from Dominion in the lawsuit show that Fox was given “signs indicating the reports were false,” Davis wrote.

“Fox possessed countervailing evidence of election fraud from the Department of Justice, election experts, and Dominion at the time it had been making its statements,” the judge wrote. “The fact that, despite this evidence, Fox continued to publish its allegations against Dominion, suggests Fox knew the allegations were probably false.”

The judge’s ruling, considered a major win for Dominion, comes about a year after the company was the subject of many baseless accusations about election fraud following November 2020. After his loss, Trump and his allies spread false claims that, as he put it, voting software is “used in states where tens of thousands of votes were stolen from us and given to Biden.” When he was still on Twitter, Trump, who described Dominion as “horrible, inaccurate and anything but secure,” retweeted a baseless report that the voting-machine system had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.”Election results under attack: Here are the facts

There is no evidence that any voting systems were compromised, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, also confirmed that he had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

The lawsuit specifies how Trump allies such as Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell were given platforms on shows hosted by Carlson, Hannity and Pirro to spread the false claims of election fraud. Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, whose show was canceled earlier this year, are also mentioned in the lawsuit.

Dominion pointed to how Hannity and Dobbs “brought on Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell to assert their claims that Dominion rigged the election by changing votes in its machines.” Another instance mentioned in the lawsuit involved when Carlson brought Lindell, the founder of MyPillow, onto his show to talk about his ban from Twitter, only for him to spread false claims of election fraud against Dominion.

“Carlson endorsed Mr. Lindell’s claim that Mr. Lindell found the machine fraud and had all the evidence,” according to the complaint.

Dominion eventually sent an email to Fox personalities and producers titled, “SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: FACTS & RUMORS,” the judge noted. Election officials and experts also went on the network to emphasize how there was “absolutely no evidence” that Dominion changed votes during the election.

“Despite these efforts, Fox continued to promote known lies on its broadcasts, websites, social media accounts and subscription service platforms,” Davis wrote. “Mr. Dobbs, Ms. Bartiromo, and Mr. Hannity also continued to give Ms. Powell and Mr. Giuliani a platform to disseminate lies about Dominion by hosting them on their shows. Mr. Dobbs, Ms. Bartiromo and Mr. Hannity likewise endorsed and repeated those lies.”

The lawsuit claimed that Bartiromo “continued promoting lies even though she had been specifically notified that independent fact-checkers, government officials and election security experts debunked those lies about Dominion.”

“Moreover, Ms. Bartiromo had actual knowledge that Georgia conducted a hand recount of every paper ballot,” Davis wrote.

The network has defended its coverage, arguing that media must be able to fully report a story that involves claims that hit at the core of U.S. democracy. The judge rejected Fox’s argument that some of its top personalities were reporting the news with flair, saying that “Fox’s reporting comprised opinion ‘mixed’ with false facts.”

“Although Fox classifies its reporters’ remarks as ‘commentary’ that used ‘loose and hyperbolic rhetoric’ for entertainment value, even loose and hyperbolic language can be actionable if it rests on false statements of fact undisclosed to viewers,” the judge said.

The lawsuit against Fox is one of several that Dominion has brought stemming from false claims after the election. Separate defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion against Powell, a former Trump campaign lawyer, and Giuliani, Trump’s former attorney, previously survived motions to dismiss in federal court in Washington.

Dominion isn’t the only election technology company to sue Fox over its election coverage. Smartmatic Corp. is suing the network for $2.7 billion in damages, as part of a lawsuit that also names Pirro, Bartiromo and Dobbs as defendants. Fox has also requested to dismiss that lawsuit.

The Dominion defamation lawsuit against Fox will continue toward a final judgment, with both sides gathering evidence in the case.

[Boldface added]



Tucker Carlson extends influence on GOP 


“We took Sidney Powell seriously. We had no intention of fighting with her, we’ve always respected her work. We simply wanted to see the details,” Carlson said on his show of Powell’s unproven claims of global conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

“So we invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour — we would have given her the whole week, actually, and listened quietly … that’s a big story. But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests. Not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.” 

Carlson told his audience he was calling Powell out “because it’s true, and in the end, that’s all that matters. The truth. It’s our only hope. It’s our best defense. It’s what makes us different from them. We care what’s true. And we know you care, too.”  

But Carlson faced unexpected backlash from Trump’s base for the statements, and he later updated his comments to say Powell’s lack of public evidence didn’t automatically disqualify her claims. 

[Boldface added]


Trump’s cable cabinet: New texts reveal the influence of Fox hosts on previous White House 

By Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey

 January 9, 2022 

Michael Pillsbury, an informal Trump adviser, said he realized how powerful Fox News was in Trump’s orbit when the former president began embracing Sidney Powell — an attorney promoting Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud — and other election fabulists after seeing them on Dobbs’s show. Pillsbury added that while it seemed obvious that many of the claims were patently false, Trump was inclined to believe them, in part because he was watching them on TV and had affection for Dobbs in particular. [Boldface added]

“It taught me the power of the young producers at Fox, and Fox Business especially,” Pillsbury said. “These young producers who are in their mid-20s. They come out of the conservative movement, they‘ve never been in the government. They are presented with these reckless, fantastical accounts. And they believe them and put them on for ratings.”


Judge denies Fox News motion to dismiss defamation suit by election-tech company Smartmatic

By Jeremy Barr

March 9, 2022

 A judge allowed an election technology company’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News to proceed on Tuesday, though he dismissed specific claims made against host Jeanine Pirro and two of the network’s guests.

New York Supreme Court Judge David B. Cohen denied Fox’s motion to dismiss the 2021 lawsuit, in which the company, Smartmatic, alleged that the network and several of its on-air personalities “decimated its future business prospects” by falsely accusing it of rigging the 2020 election against Donald Trump.

But in the same ruling, Cohen dropped Pirro from the lawsuit, noting that while she floated election conspiracy theories, she did not specifically accuse Smartmatic of wrongdoing. He also dropped Trump-affiliated lawyer Sidney Powell from the suit, saying his court has no jurisdiction over her as a Texas resident.

And he dismissed some of Smartmatic’s claims against Rudolph W. Giuliani while allowing others to continue, noting that the Trump lawyer explicitly alleged that Smartmatic committed crimes — comments, Cohen wrote, that “if false, were defamatory per se.”

At a rally on Oct. 9 in Des Moines, former president Donald Trump continued to unleash a litany of false and unproven claims of voter fraud in 2020. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

In his ruling, Cohen wrote that Smartmatic has a legitimate basis to argue that “Fox News had reason to suspect that what it was broadcasting was false” when the network airedunfounded claims made by Powell and Giuliani because they could not provide evidence for their claims.

“Even assuming that Fox News did not intentionally allow this false narrative to be broadcasted, there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs’ claim that, at a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth,” Cohen wrote.

Cohen also wrote that “there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs’ claim that Fox News actually had information undermining any claim that the election was rigged and willfully disregarded the same” because the network had asked Smartmatic for the company’s response to a Nov. 12, 2020, statement made by a government election oversight body that the 2020 contest was “the most secure in American history.”

Despite the network’s contention that it did not make election fraud allegations directly, Cohen wrote that “since Fox News allowed allegedly defamatory statements about [Smartmatic] to be repeated on its network, a jury may therefore find that it acted with intent or reckless disregard of the truth.”

The next step in the case, a preliminary conference, will be held on May 18.

A similar lawsuit filed against Fox by election technology company Dominion Voting Systems was allowed to proceed by a Delaware judge in December.


From: Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <>
Date: March 9, 2022

Trump’s former lawyer Sidney Powell is also in the news, this time because a committee of the State Bar of Texas asked a district court to judge Powell for professional misconduct with regard to overturning the 2020 election and to “determine and impose an appropriate sanction.”

BuzzFeed broke the story tonight that Powell, whose nonprofit has raised significantly more than $15 million, has been paying the legal expenses for members of the Oath Keepers.


“Texas regulators seek punishment for pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell”


Texas legal regulators have asked a judge to discipline attorney Sidney Powell for filing lawsuits they say were frivolous in support of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

The disciplinary action is a major development in what has become a nationwide effort to punish pro-Trump lawyers who tried to overturn the November 2020 presidential election result, but is not a final finding of wrongdoing.


These Two Lawyers Breathed Life Into Trump’s Big Lie, but Did They Even Believe It?

Ty Cobb, a former Trump White House attorney, said it was “very unfortunate” that Trump’s advisers “fed him nonsense about the election results” because it likely led to Jan. 6.

Jose Pagliery, Political Investigations Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng, Senior Political Reporter

Published Mar. 10, 2022

Trump’s despotic strategy relied on two main parts: interrupting congressional certification of the electoral ballot count and spreading lies about Joe Biden’s victorious election results, according to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Both were legal quagmires that flouted the U.S. Constitution—and Trump had a lawyer for each one. [This reference is to John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, respectively].

In the earlier days of his anti-democratic crusade that began right after Election Night 2020, Trump would discuss with senior administration officials and aides some of the nonsensical ideas he’d heard from Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and several other key election deadenders. Trump was getting inundated with theories (however baseless and lie-heavy) from a band of committed Trumpists, and wanted to get advice on what his other advisers thought of the theories, and what they thought of Powell, Giuliani, and company.

On a number of occasions in that brief time period, according to three people familiar with the matter, the then-president was told that Powell and the other election denialists were “crazy,” or opportunists who were just telling him what they thought he wanted to hear. Trump was warned that Powell and the gang were trying to sell him on something that was doomed in a courtroom. [Boldface added]

Trump would often respond to this early counsel with phrases such as “maybe you’re right,” “I guess you might be right,” or even “I guess you’re right.”

But as the post-election days dragged on, it didn’t matter. Trump was all-in on his “fraud” and “rigged election” propaganda, and he jumped on virtually every opportunity or fanatic proposal.

In his final months in office, Trump was surrounded by lieutenants and sycophants willing to take his multi-pronged effort to its logical, menacing extremes. People of influence close to Trump who didn’t believe a word of it played along anyway, and often actively worked to support the outgoing president’s bogus claims.

According to the knowledgeable sources, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House aide, privately admitted that a lot of what Trump’s lawyers were pushing was a fraud and farce. Nevertheless, Team Trump continued to hold up Kushner as an example of a supposed true-believer—despite his obvious lack of commitment to the cause.

“Jared has been more hardcore in fighting back on this [election outcome] than anybody,” Trump’s then-senior adviser Jason Miller told The Daily Beast in early November 2020.

Similarly, top aides on Trump’s reelection campaign, including his 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, also—again, privatelyexpressed their conclusion that the legal challenges were doomed and that the MAGA lawyers’ work was built on little more than embarrassing conspiracy theories. And yet, they pretended not to be embarrassed, and publicly claimed “we are here to support” Giuliani and his legal team, even as official campaign surrogates were freely admitting that Trump had lost, fair and square.

With more than a year’s distance from the bloody assault on the U.S. Capitol, vanishingly few prominent Republicans are willing to blame the ex-president for the riot, or admit that the Trumpists’ “stolen election” lies have no basis in reality. The small number of conservatives who do, though, often do not spend much time publicly calling out Trump by name, despite the fact that he was responsible for all of it.

Instead, they generally reserve their scorn for a handful of aides and lawyers—the Eastmans and the Clarks of the world—who did their best to protect and enable Trump.

Last month, during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Pence’s former chief of staff told host Chuck Todd that the president received bad legal advice—but he wasn’t sure if this was merely a case where Trump simply heard exactly what he wanted to hear.

“I think, unfortunately, the president had many bad advisers that were basically snake oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do,” Marc Short said.


Trump White House aide was secret author of report used to push ‘big lie’

Report on Dominion voting machines produced after 2020 election was not the work of volunteer in Trump’s post-election legal team

Weeks after the 2020 election, at least one Trump White House aide was named as secretly producing a report that alleged Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden because of Dominion Voting Systems – research that formed the basis of the former president’s wider efforts to overturn the election.

Weeks after the 2020 election, at least one Trump White House aide was named as secretly producing a report that alleged Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden because of Dominion Voting Systems – research that formed the basis of the former president’s wider efforts to overturn the election.

The Dominion report, subtitled “OVERVIEW 12/2/20 – History, Executives, Vote Manipulation Ability and Design, Foreign Ties”, was initially prepared so that it could be sent to legislatures in states where the Trump White House was trying to have Biden’s win reversed.

But top Trump officials would also use the research that stemmed from the White House aide-produced report to weigh other options to return Trump to the presidency, including having the former president sign off on executive orders to authorize sweeping emergency powers.

The previously unreported involvement of the Trump White House aide in the preparation of the Dominion report raises the extraordinary situation of at least one administration official being among the original sources of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The publicly available version of the Dominion report, which first surfaced in early December 2020 on the conservative outlet the Gateway Pundit, names on the cover and in metadata as its author Katherine Friess, a volunteer on the Trump post-election legal team.

But the Dominion report was in fact produced by the senior Trump White House policy aide Joanna Miller, according to the original version of the document reviewed by the Guardian and a source familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

he original version of the Dominion report named Miller – who worked for the senior Trump adviser Peter Navarro – as the author on the cover page, until her name was abruptly replaced with that of Friess before the document was to be released publicly, the source said.

The involvement of a number of other Trump White House aides who worked in Navarro’s office was also scrubbed around that time, the source said. Friess has told the Daily Beast that she had nothing to do with the report and did not know how her name came to be on the document.

It was not clear why Miller’s name was removed from the report, which was sent to Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani on 29 November 2020, or why the White House aide’s involvement was obfuscated in the final 2 December version.

Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Dominion report made a number of unsubstantiated allegations that claimed Dominion Voting Systems corruptly ensured there could be “technology glitches which resulted in thousands of votes being added to Joe Biden’s total ballot count”.

Citing unnamed Venezuelan officials, the report also pushed the conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems used software from the election company Smartmatic and had ties to “state-run Venezuelan software and telecommunications companies”.

After the Dominion report became public, Navarro incorporated the claims into his own three-part report, produced with assistance from his aides at the White House, including Miller and another policy aide, Garrett Ziegler, the source said.

Ziegler has also said on a rightwing podcast that he and others in Navarro’s office – seemingly referring to Trump White House aides Christopher Abbott and Hannah Robertson – started working on Navarro’s report about two weeks before the 2020 election took place.

“Two weeks before the election, we were doing those reports hoping that we would pepper the swing states with those,” Ziegler said of the three-part Navarro report in an appearance last July on The Professor’s Record with David K Clements.

The research in the Dominion report also formed the backbone of foreign election interference claims by the former Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who argued Trump could, as a result, assume emergency presidential powers and suspend normal law.

That included Trump’s executive order 13848, which authorized sweeping powers in the event of foreign election interference, as well as a draft executive order that would have authorized the seizure of voting machines, the Guardian has previously reported.

The claims about Venezuela in the Dominion report appear to have spurred Powell to ask Trump at a 18 December 2020 meeting at the White House – coincidentally facilitated by Ziegler – that she be appointed special counsel to investigate election fraud.

Miller’s authorship of the Dominion report was not the last time the Trump White House, or individuals in the administration, prepared materials to advance the former president’s claims about a stolen election and efforts to return himself to office.

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack revealed last year it had found evidence the White House Communications Agency produced a letter for the Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark to use to pressure states to decertify Biden’s election win.


An Infamous MAGA Lawyer Is Funding Wacky Legal Defenses for January 6 Suspects

A year after the “Kraken” lawsuits, Sidney Powell is still helping spread conspiracy theories in the courts.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges over the January 6 insurrection, is getting new lawyers. And his outgoing attorney says that a nonprofit set up by Sidney Powell—the infamous pro-Trump lawyer behind the failed “Kraken” election lawsuits—has offered to help pay for Meggs’ legal defense.

Jonathan Moseley has represented Meggs since October—work that’s included filing a motion that seemed to compare Covid vaccine policies to the Holocaust. Now Moseley is being forced to step aside due to his disbarment in Virginia last month for what the state bar said were improper billing practices. In interviews, he said that Powell’s group, Defending the Republic, had covered all his fees in the Meggs case, more than $70,000 through March. And he told me earlier this month that he expected that Meggs’ new counsel “would get funded in place of me for this work.”

The attorneys taking over Meggs’ case—Juli Haller and Stanley Woodward—declined to answer questions about their relationship with Defending the Republic and wouldn’t say whether the group would continue picking up the tab for Meggs’ defense. But according to Moseley, Powell’s organization is already paying for Haller to represent Meggs’ wife, Connie. Haller, who worked closely with Powell in 2020 to promote election fraud claims in court, now functions “like a liaison” for Powell, according to Moseley. Moseley said that it was Haller who initially recruited him to represent Kelly Meggs and arranged for him to be compensated by Defending the Republic.


Despite rebukes, Trump’s legal brigade is thriving

Their claims were dismissed as baseless, but many attorneys have never faced discipline and have found new business as go-to MAGA lawyers.

Juli Haller was part of Donald Trump’s legal brigade in Michigan, filing a lawsuit alongside the ubiquitous Sidney Powell that claimed absentee vote counts were likely manipulated by a computer algorithm developed by allies of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.

The lawsuit was quickly deemed baseless, and she was among nine attorneys ordered by a federal judge to pay the city of Detroit and state of Michigan’s legal fees and referred for possible disbarment. In a blistering rebuke, Judge Linda V. Parker called it a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

But unlike Rudy Giuliani, whose law license was suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., for championing similar cases, or Haller’s own co-counsel, Powell, whose law license is at risk in Texas, Haller is going strong. She has gained a robust client roster that includes two alleged members of the far-right vigilante group the Oath Keepers who are accused of fueling the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Haller’s trajectory — from rebuked purveyor of baseless claims to a go-to attorney for MAGA extremists — infuriates many liberal activists, including some groups who are targeting the lawyers for discipline, and alarms some nonpartisan specialists in legal ethics. They say those who helped legitimize the former president’s lies should not be allowed to use it as a foundation to build their legal practices, lest it serve as an incentive to profit from ever more outlandish claims that shake the confidence of Americans in the integrity of U.S. elections and endanger democracy.

In total, at least 16 lawyers who represented plaintiffs in five federal lawsuits promoting Trump’s baseless election fraud claims in the key battlegrounds of Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona remain in good standing or have no record of disciplinary action with their respective bar associations or licensing authorities, according to a POLITICO review.

Fourteen of them have since engaged in additional work in support of the election fraud conspiracies or conspiracists behind Trump’s attempt to remain in power despite losing the election to President Joe Biden. These include defending accused Jan. 6 rioters, consulting for partisan election “audits” or partaking in advocacy or legal cases sowing doubts about the integrity of the nation’s elections, POLITICO found.

Powell and Giuliani are the most well-known national legal voices who promoted conspiracies fueling the violent attack on the Capitol. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.

Powell, in November of 2020, said she would “release the Kraken” by providing evidence of widespread voting fraud proving Trump won the election. In fact, all of the suits were dismissed within days by judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents. But in the process, Giuliani and Powell brought together a pool of attorneys who were willing to push Trump’s lies into court.

Now, however, many legal experts consider this network of attorneys a risk to future orderly elections administration and argue monetary penalties are an insufficient deterrent, simply because the lawyers involved can easily raise funds from disgruntled Trump supporters who may believe and are eager to spread the election lies.

“These lawyers have to be stopped from practicing law. It’s that simple,” asserts David Fink, an attorney leading the charge to disbar the attorneys in Michigan, including Haller. “They disregarded their oath, they told lies to the court and they spread the ‘Big Lie,’” said Fink.

In arguing that monetary fines are not sufficient deterrent, Fink cited a report that Powell raised $14 million by spreading baseless claims about election fraud, including through the lawsuits.

Fink is aligned with The 65 Project, a new bipartisan group spending millions to try to disbar 100 lawyers who worked on Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Its initial round of ethics complaints targeted top names on Trump’s team, filed with their respective state bars in March. The group is now gearing up to file a wave of complaints against lesser-known attorneys who filed legal cases on baseless evidence, Michael Teter, the group’s director, confirmed.

It’s unclear how many state bar associations are pursuing any kind of disciplinary action, or whether they have rejected complaints, because most require that investigations remain confidential. Most states that do provide disciplinary records online only post the final opinions or orders.

POLITICO contacted bar associations or regulatory boards responsible for disciplinary actions in Washington, D.C., Michigan and Wisconsin, where a number of the lawyers are registered. They all declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules.

In addition to being one of nine attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the Michigan case, Haller was involved in four similar cases dismissed in other states, including as a “lead” attorney in Arizona, according to the court docket. Similar to the Michigan case, the Arizona suit raised questions about ballot tampering and hacked voting machines, including a statement attributed to an alleged former military intelligence expert only identified as Spider. A judge dismissed it without a hearing, stating plaintiffs were “sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence.”

In an appellate brief filed last February in Michigan, the attorneys involved in that case stated they are targets of a partisan smear campaign.

“A Democrat Governor, a Democrat Secretary of State, and a Democrat Attorney General have joined a Democrat-appointed, Democrats-confirmed judge to ask a disciplinary body appointed and superintended by a Democrat-controlled state entity to kill the careers of Republican lawyers for advancing what is a mainstream Republican position on the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Although judges reviewed written claims and documentation before dismissing her cases, Haller argues her team never got to make its case before the judge in Arizona, similar to what happened in other cases.

“There were no evidentiary hearings held, and an old expression, ‘Absence of Justice leads to Strife’ comes to mind; just ask the George Floyd protesters about that. I personally had nothing to do with Jan. 6,” she said in response to emailed questions from POLITICO.

In next-door Wisconsin, Michael Dean was the lead attorney for plaintiffs in a Wisconsin case alleging fraud via “ballot-stuffing.” Dean’s team sought to decertify election results, declare Trump the winner and impound Dominion voting machines.

In dismissing the case, Judge Pamela Pepper stated: “Federal judges do not appoint the president in this country. One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so.” Dean has been representing former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is conducting a partisan audit of Wisconsin’s 2020 election results and has called for decertifying the state’s Electoral College votes after accusing Democratic leaders of large cities of fraud.

Such audits are a way of continuing the fight over 2020, even after courts have dismissed the cases. They have emerged as another source of work for pro-Trump attorneys.

Dean did not respond to a request for comment.

David Levine, a former Boise, Idaho, elections director, is among those in support of harsher punishment for lawyers who continue to fan the flames of election controversies long after they’ve been discredited. Levine is now a fellow for election integrity at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, part of the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan policy organization.

“If these folks aren’t held accountable, they’ll feel emboldened to continue to engage in actions that not only erode trust in the legal profession and integrity of elections but endanger lives of the American people,” he said.

“We saw in 2020 how false election information could not only fuel an insurrection but cause bodily harm and loss of lives,” said Levine. “After Watergate, we saw the legal profession be at the forefront of ethics reform. It’s dramatically different from what we’re seeing here,” he said.

‘Claims not backed by law’

U.S. lawyers have substantial leeway in filing court cases and in what they say outside the courtroom. Still, state bar associations generally try to self-police the legal profession according to a common set of rules that prohibit attorneys from bringing cases unless “there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous,” as the American Bar Association states.

In New York, a state appeals court suspended Giuliani’s license for making “demonstrably false and misleading” statements about widespread voter fraud.

And in Michigan, Rules of Professional Conduct stipulate that a lawyer may not knowingly “make a false statement of material fact or law” or “fail to correct” such a statement.

According to a pending complaint filed by a coalition of several Michigan lawyers with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, the team in the case involving Haller not only made numerous false assertions but “notably failed to disclose to the court that their false factual claims had been dismissed in state courts” prior to filing the suit. According to that complaint, when presented with an opportunity to defend their claims, the attorneys “voluntarily” dismissed the case rather than offer a “factual defense.”

In her sanctions order statement, Parker, the judge, stated: “While individuals may have a right ‘within certain bounds’ to make baseless allegations of fraud in the public, attorneys cannot ‘exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same.’” Parker continued: “The attorneys abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence.”

‘The mind of the lawyer’

Legal experts say the key to disciplining lawyers for frivolous cases is determining whether they knew the facts and arguments on which they were bringing their cases were false.

Ben Ginsberg, among the nation’s most prominent conservative election lawyers, said, “You have to get into the mind of the lawyer and whether they thought and they had reasonable evidence to believe the charges they brought had some shred of credibility to them.”

Barry Richard, who represented former President George W. Bush in litigating the disputed 2000 election in Florida, agreed it would likely have to be proven the attorneys knowingly submitted false complaints in order to take more significant action such as the revoking of law licenses.

Yet, while state bar association rules differ, “anybody who took the position, with no basis, that there was fraud committed has violated a bar rule — no matter what state it is — and is subject to discipline,” said Richard.

Members on the bipartisan House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have repeatedly warned that challenges to the nation’s system of nonpartisan election administration remain a significant threat.

That’s because, regardless of the ultimate penalties, if any, for Trump and his inner circle, his successful campaign to sow doubts about the security of U.S. elections has inspired GOP candidates across the nation to run on similar platforms. In two out of three governor and secretary of state contests, there is an “election denier” running, according to States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes secure elections.

Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued that it’s important to take action against attorneys fanning the flames of election conspiracies before they can rely on officeholders to support the false claims.

Should various election deniers prevail in their campaigns, Burden said, “if a lawsuit is brought, as frivolous as it might be, [the pro-Trump lawyers] may have an ally in office who may be willing to testify in favor” of it or advance it in multiple ways, he said.

“It is alarming that that network of election deniers remains active,” said Burden.


Many of Powell’s co-lawyers remain actively promoting conspiracies around 2020.

Stefanie Junttila, who’s also gone by Stefanie Lambert, officially appeared as an attorney of record on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Michigan case. Despite the sanctions order, Junttila continues to post on her Telegram channel what she calls “evidence” of election fraud in 2020 and is representing Sheriff Dar Leaf, who is suing Michigan’s attorney general and secretary of state for obstructing his own self-proclaimed investigation into voter fraud. In 2020, Leaf attended a rally related to COVID restrictions alongside a militia member later accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

As recently as mid-April, Junttila shared on social media a video of her appearance on the Stew Peters Show, in which she claims to have evidence of fraud committed in Delaware County, Penn., by union-aligned elections officials. And on May 5, Junttila filed a brief appealing her sanctions, insisting there “remain significant, legitimate concerns” with the election, which had ”significant irregularities.” Juntilla did not respond to a request for comment.

For her part, Powell, too, has been unrepentant.

In a July 2021 hearing before Parker, Powell stated: “We would file the same complaints again. We welcome an opportunity to actually prove our case.”


Sidney Powell’s legal defense: ‘Reasonable people’ wouldn’t believe her election fraud claims

Lawyers for the Trump ally claim she was just sharing an opinion when she said the election was stolen using machines built to rig races for Hugo Chavez.
Jance C. Timm
March 23, 2021


In November, Powell took part in a freewheeling, conspiracy-riddled news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington that is a key focus of the lawsuit. There, she and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani alleged a coordinated conspiracy using voting systems — including Dominion machines, which she baselessly claimed were created to rig elections for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez — to steal the election from Trump. Dominion is a private U.S. company.

The conspiracy involved “all kinds of massive interests of globalist — dictators, corporations, you name it. Everybody’s against us, except President Trump,” Powell said.

Powell’s claims are at odds with the nation’s post-election reality: Republican lawmakers across the country now say that so many questions were raised about the accuracy of the 2020 election that they need to pass restrictive voting laws to reinstill trust. There are hundreds of restrictive election bills being considered in 43 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Some appear to refer to conspiracy theories advanced by Trump’s attorneys. In Texas, one proposed bill requires the state use U.S.-made voting systems.

While arguing that Powell’s public statements and filings were clearly opinion, the filing also claims that she still believes them to be true.

Her lawyers argued that journalists are able to use the First Amendment to rely on sources they deem credible and that attorneys should be able to do the same. Powell credited sworn testimony when she tied Chávez, who died in 2013, to voting systems used in the 2020 election.

“Lawyers involved in fast-moving litigation concerning matters of transcendent public importance, who rely on sworn declarations, are entitled to no less protection,” the filing said, arguing that journalists are only penalized if they know they are publishing false information.

“She believed the allegations then and she believes them now,” the filing says.

The filing requests that the lawsuit against Powell be dismissed or moved to Texas federal court. It is signed by a several attorneys, including Jesse Binnall, a Virginia-based attorney who is defending Trump in a civil suit about the Jan. 6 riot. The former president has continued to advance false claims about the 2020 election; he spoke at CPAC last month and falsely claimed that there were 42,000 double or multiple votes in Nevada.

Dominion has also filed defamation suits against Giuliani and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell; Dominion CEO John Poulos told CNBC to expect more lawsuits.

The voting systems company SmartMatic has also sued Powell, Giuliani and Fox News over their election fraud claims.

Report: 10 Voter Fraud Lies Debunked, GET THE FACTS: American elections are clean and trustworthy despite what former President Trump and others claim.

“Casting a ballot isn’t just something you do for yourself — it’s for our collective future.”

— Oprah Winfrey