For the first time, prosecutors have the assistance of a person who was intimately involved in Donald Trump’s initiatives to hold onto power after losing the election.
At a news conference held at the RNC offices just two weeks after Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 presidential race, attorney Sidney Powell vowed to fight to keep him in office.
Standing next to one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Ms. Powell presented a ridiculous conspiracy theory. She revealed to the world how the Dominion voting machine manufacturer had teamed up with a liberal financier and Venezuelan intelligence to shift votes from Mr. Trump to his rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The unfounded claims were ultimately the crux of several court cases Ms. Powell brought to contest Mr. Trump’s defeat. She quickly re-entered Mr. Trump’s orbit after the Trump campaign distanced itself from her, calling her allegations implausible, and joined him in an Oval Office meeting to discuss a bold proposal to take the nation’s voting equipment and essentially re-run the election.
Ms. Powell pleaded guilty to charges of interfering with an election in Georgia on Thursday, a move that surprised both the former president and his advisors. She also promised to testify against the other defendants in the case, including Mr. Trump.
Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, who brought the election case this summer, was ecstatic about the unexpected development. But it was perhaps even more significant for Mr. Trump since it was the first time that someone who was directly involved in his efforts to maintain power had agreed to cooperate with the investigators.
It is still unknown what Ms. Powell may say if asked to testify against Mr. Trump. However, if she testifies in his Georgia election trial, she might provide insight into a number of strategies he used to maintain power despite the will of the people.
The sudden disclosure of her agreement during a court proceeding in Atlanta on Thursday aroused additional concerns: Would she also provide assistance to the federal prosecutors in Washington who brought their own election case against Mr. Trump, a case in which she was named as an unindicted co-conspirator? And would any other parties involved in the Georgia case be willing to reach comparable agreements with prosecutors? (Ms. Powell was given probation after entering a guilty plea to misdemeanour charges.)
Given her history of outrageous outbursts, two individuals with connections to Mr. Trump’s world said that Ms. Powell would pose a bigger trial witness challenge than initially appears. In a statement, Steven H. Sadow, Mr. Trump’s attorney in Georgia, stated that “assuming truthful testimony” in the case, “it will be favourable to my overall defence strategy.”
Others, on the other hand, argued that the prosecution must be certain that she has strong evidence that they can utilise against her co-defendants.
Up to this point, just a small number of individuals were known to have struck agreements in Mr. Trump’s four criminal cases.
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In September, Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman indicted in the Georgia election case alongside Donald Trump and 17 other defendants, entered a guilty plea and consented to testify against his fellow defendants.
One of Mr. Trump’s IT specialists, Yuscil Taveras, cooperated with federal prosecutors who indicted him on allegations of unlawfully holding onto dozens of secret papers and thwarting efforts by the government to get them back. Mr. Taveras disclosed to the investigators that he had been pressured into erasing surveillance film that was crucial to the investigation.
The news that Ms. Powell would take a stand against him was an uncomfortable development because Mr. Trump prefers to have some level of control over everything pertaining to him.
Although they acknowledged he was concerned by Ms. Powell’s plea, those who have spoken with him described him as being more focused on the New York attorney general’s case against him than it.