Powell Pleads Guilty in GA

She took a plea deal.

Via the NYT: Sidney Powell Pleads Guilty in Georgia Trump Case.

Ms. Powell, 68, who appeared in a downtown Atlanta courtroom, was sentenced to six years of probation for conspiracy to commit intentional interference of election duties. That is a significantly less-severe outcome than she would have faced if found guilty of the charges for which she was originally indicted, which included a violation of the state racketeering law.

She was also fined $6,000 and agreed to pay $2,700 restitution to the state of Georgia, as well as write an apology letter to its citizens. 

Prosecutors said in court that Ms. Powell had given them a recorded statement on Wednesday as part of her plea deal. She has agreed to testify against any of the 17 remaining defendants. Ms. Powell has also agreed to turn over documents in her possession related to the case.

This is not especially surprising, but welcome. Not only has she admitted to attempted criminal election interference, she is cooperating with the prosecution.

Of course, die-hard election deniers will rationalize away this plea, but I also hope that this will not only help the broader prosecution but also give pause to the next charlatan who thinks that the route to fame and fortune is lying on national television.

I would note that this dovetails directly with the settlement payout Fox News had to make in regard to election lies (which also led to Tucker Carlson’s exit from the network). I have no illusions that any of these outcomes fixes the problem of delusions about the 2020 elections, but they are all at least steps in the right direction.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Democracy, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. GVOR10 says:

    Six years suspended and a four digit fine? She’s singing like a bird.

  2. Kathy says:

    Of course, die-hard election deniers will rationalize away this plea

    And how!

    Traitor Kraken libtard DEMOCRAT! She should be shot for treason!

    BTW, in the photo Rudy looks like someone attending a wake. Maybe his body language knew where his path led.

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    FWIW, probation restrictions are pretty strict and probation can always be revoked.

    She is pleading guilty to six misdemeanor charges, according to the agreement read in court Thursday. She will get 12 months of probation for each count, as well as a $6,000 fine.

    There’s a good chance she loses her license over these as well.

    It will be interesting to see how she is used as a witness. She had one of the strongest cases against her because of her role in illegally getting access to voting machines Coffee County, Georgia. The media (outside of wonks) haven’t paid that much attention to that part of the story, which is too bad given it’s the most cut and dry aspect of the case. Lawfare did a really wondeful long form report on it: https://www.lawfaremedia.org/article/what-the-heck-happened-in-coffee-county-georgia

    Or for the tl;dr types, I highly suggest the corresponding podcast episode: https://www.lawfaremedia.org/article/the-lawfare-podcast-anna-bower-on-what-happened-in-coffee-county

  4. Beth says:

    Well that’s good news. I was beginning to worry about Chesboro. He’s got enough confidence to make it seem like he’s going to get off. If Kraken Lady decided she doesn’t want to Kraken from jail, he’s probably toast too.

    @Matt Bernius:

    I don’t know how she still has a licence.

  5. CSK says:

    Is Trump worried Sid will flip?

  6. Kevin says:

    I’m really curious as to whether she actually thinks she did anything wrong, or really acknowledges that the election wasn’t stolen, or if she’s just out of money to pay for lawyers.

    @Beth: From listening to interviews with Chesboro’s lawyers, they have some serious (mostly probably valid) concerns with the way certain laws in Georgia are interpreted/enforced, so I suspect they’ll go through a trial to get those concerns addressed.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I hope they get more than just her testimony. She’s a nutter and won’t present well on the witness stand when pressed on her conspiracy theories.

    In a matter of minutes, Ms. Powell blamed Cuba, Venezuela, the Clinton Foundation, the billionaire George Soros and Antifa, a loosely defined left-wing movement, for somehow making votes for Mr. Trump disappear.

    Ms. Powell also used her media appearances to amplify social media posts promoting QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory whose proponents believe Mr. Trump is battling a cabal of satanic pedophiles.

  8. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Matt Bernius: So, I’m reading that Lawfare piece, and I come across what has to be the best insert in commas of the year:

    Eric Chaney, an elections board member, agreed with Hampton’s assessment of the voting machines. Chaney, a second-generation used car salesman, called the Dominion system “a piece of junk.”
    [emphasis added]

    I also kind of savor the fact that only now are Republicans becoming aware that computer voting systems could potentially be used to cheat. Which is why I have been advocating for computerized systems that leave a paper record that is auditable since before 2004.

  9. mattbernius says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Anna Bowers definitely can bring the snark.

  10. Franklin says:

    Chaney, a second-generation used car salesman, called the Dominion system “a piece of junk.”

    You don’t say …

  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I don’t wish prison on her, but her fine was too low by an order of magnitude.

  12. @SC_Birdflyte: I am reserving judgment on that until we know how/how much she has cooperated.

  13. a country lawyer says:

    Before a prosecutor will agree to a plea based on reduced charges, he/she will require a proffer of what the defendant will say as witness for the prosecution. The better the expected testimony the better the deal. Based on the sweet deal Powell got you can assume the prosecutor liked what she heard.

  14. Matt Bernius says:

    The more I think about this deal and read other’s thoughts on this, the more it feels like this is a really stark demonstration of either (a) the trial tax (if you think the original penalties were too high for the crime) or (b) that prosecutors will let a dangerous (given the severity of the initial charging) person “get away with it” in the hopes of other convictions (if you think the deal is too lenient).

    Either way, it doesn’t speak well of our overall criminal legal systems.

  15. Kathy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I see both options as complimentary.

    Penalties are high in part so potential witnesses will flip, and in exchange they get treated leniently.

    That by itself would be bad. It gets worse when you consider in many cases there’s no one to flip on, and thus no leniency to be had.

  16. dazedandconfused says:

    I think still calling her The Kraken is inappropriate. A Kraken is a dangerous, powerful beast to be feared. She’s been rendered a squid.

  17. gVOR10 says:

    IIRC she was the first, or at least one of the first, to ask for an expedited trial. I can’t help but wonder if she calculated it would get her a look at the prosecution case quickly, and if it looked as bad as she feared, she’d have an early opportunity to flip. Also, too, no hope of a Trump pardon for state crimes no matter how long she stalled.

  18. JohnSF says:

    Squids can be voracious predators, and quite smart.
    Giant squid are best not messed with.
    A cuttlefish, perhaps?

  19. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Good point, although I’ve seen predictions elsewhere that she will, sooner or later, violate the terms of her probation. A hefty fine (which could be suspended if she cooperates) would help prevent that.

  20. @SC_Birdflyte: But if she violates, she could lose her deal, which is a potentially very big punishment.

  21. @Matt Bernius: Agreed.