Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor charged with breaching election machines in Georgia, had nothing to do with the breach, save for paying for it after the fact, and only because the forensic firm that did it threatened to dump the data online, her lawyer said in a recent court filing.
Ms. Powell was charged as part of the election interference case against former President Donald Trump that was brought on Aug. 14 by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. It alleges that the efforts of President Trump and 18 others, including Ms. Powell, to challenge the 2020 election results amounted to a racketeering conspiracy.
Ms. Willis has accused Ms. Powell of participating in the alleged conspiracy and conspiracies to commit computer trespass, computer theft, computer invasion of privacy, election fraud, and defrauding the state.
The charges are tied to a Jan. 7, 2021, incident in which personnel of data forensic company SullivanStrickler copied data from election machines and computers in Coffee County, Georgia.
The lawyer for Ms. Powell, Brian Rafferty, has vehemently denied the allegations and is seeking dismissal of the charges.
Mr. Rafferty has argued that examination of the machines wasn’t a crime because it was authorized by the Coffee County Election Board. Even if the board didn’t ultimately have the authority to allow the examination, the people involved operated under the belief that their action was authorized. For their actions to be criminal, they would have to have been undertaken with a knowing lack of authority.
Further still, however, Ms. Powell didn’t organize or participate in the incident, Mr. Rafferty asserted.
“There are no communications of any kind between Ms. Powell and any of the alleged coconspirators or unindicted coconspirators that evince any agreement by Ms. Powell to have SullivanStrickler personnel to travel to Coffee County or to contract for their services for Coffee County—much less to do so for any illegal purpose,” he said in a Sept. 28 filing.
Ms. Powell challenged the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona, but she never represented President Trump, he said.
“It cannot be disputed that Ms. Powell went her own way following the election, and she never reached an agreement on a course of action with any indicted or unindicted coconspirator,” he said.
She did share evidence used in her lawsuits, all of which failed, with President Trump and his aides, and she advised him on his authorities in case of foreign interference in the election, Mr. Rafferty acknowledged.
“All those substantive communications, limited as they were, effectively ended by December 19, 2020,” he said.
He also acknowledged that “Defending the Republic Inc., a non-profit Ms. Powell founded, paid a bill from SullivanStrickler,” but he added that it did so only upon the company’s “threat to post information publicly online after its technicians apparently collected data from Coffee County machines.”
SullivanStrickler didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“Ms. Powell did not request that trip; she did not even know of that trip—much less authorize it,” Mr. Rafferty said.
“Accordingly, she did not agree with anyone to undertake the collection of Coffee County data—even though it was done with permission of Coffee County officials—and the State has no evidence she conspired with anyone to violate any law.”
Ms. Powell and another defendant, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, asked for a speedy trial, which is scheduled to commence on Oct. 23. Other defendants will be tried separately, though it’s not clear when. Several defendants are also trying to have the case removed to a federal court. In some of the latest developments, lawyers for President Trump informed the court that they will not joint the removal effort.
President Trump is facing another indictment for his election challenges in a federal court in the District of Columbia. He’s also fighting charges of illegal retention of defense information in Florida and more charges in New York for allegedly fraudulent bookkeeping entries. In a separate civil suit targeting his businesses, a New York judge recently ordered his businesses in the state dissolved.
President Trump has denounced the legal cases against himself as politically motivated efforts to interfere with his 2024 presidential run.