Trump’s Legal Team Imploding

We won't have Sidney Powell to kick around any more.

The crazy, incompetent Trump legal team

BBC (“Sidney Powell: Trump team cuts ties with lawyer who peddled bizarre fraud claims“):

The Trump campaign has distanced itself from a lawyer who made dramatic claims of voter fraud at several media events.

Sidney Powell claimed without evidence last week that electronic voting systems had switched millions of votes to President-elect Joe Biden, and said he won due to “communist money”.

President Trump has refused to concede the election, making unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud.


On Sunday, the Trump campaign issued a statement saying Ms Powell was “practising law on her own” and was “not a member of the Trump legal team”.

“She is not a member of the Trump legal team. She is also not a lawyer for the president in his personal capacity,” Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in the statement.

In a statement released to CBS, Ms Powell said she understood the statement issued by Mr Giuliani and Ms Ellis, and that she would soon be filing a lawsuit over her unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.

A tweet from President Trump earlier this month explicitly named her as part of the team, referring to her as one of his “wonderful lawyers and representatives” .

Both Mr Giuliani and Ms Ellis had attended the Thursday news conference alongside Ms Powell, where she said, without providing evidence, that electronic voting systems switched millions of ballots to Mr Biden, and that he also won thanks to “communist money”.

The Guardian (“Trump campaign cuts ties with attorney Sidney Powell after bizarre election fraud claims“) adds:

The statement hints at chaos in a legal team that has lost case after case in its efforts to overturn the results of the 3 November election. Law firms have withdrawn from cases, and in the latest setback, Matthew Brann, a Republican US district court judge in Pennsylvania, threw out the Trump campaign’s request to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters there.

“This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together from two distinct theories in an attempt to avoid controlling precedent,” he wrote in a damning order, issued on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, the Trump campaign filed an appeal against Brann’s ruling in Pennsylvania.

It came after similar failed court bids in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona to prevent states from certifying their vote totals.

The statement on Powell was the latest sign of wariness over her approach even within some conservative circles. Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show last week that his team had asked Powell for evidence to support her claims, but that Powell had provided none.

Powell made headlines with her statements at a Thursday news conference where, joined by Giuliani and Ellis, she incorrectly suggested that a server hosting evidence of voting irregularities was located in Germany, that voting software used by Georgia and other states was created at the direction of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and that votes for Trump had probably been switched in favour of Biden.

However, her contributions that day were largely overshadowed by Giuliani’s hair dye malfunction.

In a subsequent interview with Newsmax on Saturday, she appeared to accuse Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, and its Republican secretary of state of being part of a conspiracy involving a voting-system contract award that she contends harmed Trump’s re-election bid.

“Georgia’s probably going to be the first state I’m going to blow up and Mr Kemp and the secretary of state need to go with it,” she said, later adding that a lawsuit she planned to file against the state would be “biblical”.

When you’re too craven and out-there for Rudy Giuliani, you’ve clearly gone too far. But this is yet more evidence that the Trump gambit is more kook than coup; it would be positively comical were it not so insidious.

Like Steven Taylor, I simultaneously believe this simply has no chance at success and an outrageous assault on democracy.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Democracy, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tony W says:

    Sure, Trump is injured and his feelings are hurt because he lost – but that’s not what this is about.

    Trump faces dozens of sealed indictments from SDNY, and more from NY state. His Scotland properties will be seized if he doesn’t respond to a subpoena about his misdealings in that country. He owes hundreds of millions of dollars that Deutschebank is now selling off to other institutions that will not be as generous about collection as they are, now that he won’t be president. He is in danger of losing Trump Tower altogether. His kids have been in on so many financial misdeeds that they may ultimately be persuaded to turn on him or face years of prison themselves.

    His world is collapsing around him, and the only thing protecting him is the presidency.

    He will stop at nothing to keep that safety.

  2. CSK says:

    Relax, everyone. Sundance at has kindly explained that dastardly Republican business interests want Powell out, out, out. In any event, she was never working for Trump (despite the fact that he said she was), but for We the People. So we should all donate to the fund she’s set up to help defray expenses.

    I can’t begin to express how relieved I am.

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I remain amazed that this circus hasn’t been slammed with Rule 11 sanctions. They’re an embarrassment to the bar.

  4. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W:

    He will stop at nothing to keep that safety.

    That’s what’s scary–despite the laughable ineptitude. And I think it’s something most commentators haven’t quite grasped. Before this is all over he will pursue every possible avenue his pea-brain can think up to keep himself in power. Pretty soon our debates over the meaning of “autogolpe” will seem so last week. We’re headed straight toward an attempted military coup.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    “Like Steven Taylor, I simultaneously believe this simply has no chance at success and an outrageous assault on democracy.”

    And yet the majority of elected officials in one party are doing nothing to condemn these actions. And the people doing it will pay no price for having done so.

  6. charon says:


    Not a chance, the brass does not like him nor do the troops.

  7. KM says:

    Nothing he’s tried so far has had a chance and yet he’s doggedly pursuing these dead ends. Of course it won’t work. He’ll still float the balloon to see who responds and quite frankly it only takes one nut decided to take up arms for his Orange Master for people to die. Not something to dismiss so lightly considering how many plots have been foiled recently and those are only the ones we know of.

    Never forget: there’s just as many MAGAts, QAnons, angry white supremacists and Proud Boy wannabes in the military as in civilian life…. because that’s where they came from and that’s where they go back to when their service is done. They are Americans and Americans be kinda crazy right now….

  8. DrDaveT says:


    He’ll still float the balloon to see who responds and quite frankly it only takes one nut decided to take up arms for his Orange Master for people to die.

    I think too many people have forgotten Timothy McVeigh. We know exactly how he was radicalized, and the GOP and their propaganda arms are now mass-producing exactly that sort of situation.

    On the other hand, RWNJs could carry out a dozen Oklahoma City style attacks and still not kill as many people as the GOP has already killed with their COVID “response”, so it’s all relative.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    Given the lunacy she’s been spouting, there’s probably a good reason why Sidney is a FORMER prosecutor….

  10. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Any theories on what is stopping sanctions?

  11. CSK says:

    If you want a laugh, check out Sidney’s website:

    Talk about fleecing the rubes.

  12. CSK says:

    You may make your checks payable to Sidney herself. She’s hoping to raise millions of dollars, she claims.

    I’m sure she is.

  13. KM says:

    @DrDaveT :

    I think too many people have forgotten Timothy McVeigh.

    They have, indeed.

    “Terrorist” now means “brown person or Muslim” to the country at large; Americans can’t be terrorists to their own people. All those mass shootings and death? Lone nuts with mental illnesses. All those militia groups taking over buildings with guns and threatening people? Patriots fighting back against…. whatever they’re pissed off at the moment. Underage kids who shoot and kill protesters with illegal guns in a state they shouldn’t be in? Heroes out on bail, now with corporate sponsorship! The MAGAts who sent bombs in the mail or tried to attack the USS Comfort or kidnapped a Governor or tried to blow up a ballot counting station? Randos, don’t worry – the cops got wind of their crazy before anything happened. We don’t have terrorists here, you see.

    It only takes one. Oswald was one person and look what he did. McVeigh and bin Laden had some help and look what they did. I don’t fear the clown staining the Resolute Desk with his Big Macs – I fear the person who looks at him, says “yeah, I’ll kill for him” and then goes out to do it. The more he feeds their grievances and stokes their need to get vengeance, the more likely we’re going to see another American tragedy.

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Courts tend to be somewhat reluctant to impose rule 11 sanctions on their own initiative, although that varies from district to district and circuit to circuit, unless the section B violations are exceptionally egregious. It’s not as simple as simply issuing an order imposing them – show-cause orders have to be imposed and unsuccessfully mitigated within a mandated period of time (typically 14 to 21 days).

    They can also stem from rule 5 motions for sanction by opposing counsel, but those require an interim period (also typically 14 to 21 days) to cure the violation (via correction, withdrawal, etc.) of the flawed elements of the pleading.

    Most of these actions have been pressed in state courts, so we’d have to delve into the various state level FRCP analogues, but with respect to Brann in PA, I think he simply erred on the side of caution given the subject matter & time constraints, and ultimately found it much more productive (and much quicker) to eviscerate the plaintiffs in his ruling. The defendants obviously had no incentive to attempt to save this clown car from itself, so they let it play out.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @KM: One caveat I’d make is that terrorist acts on the scale of OKC let alone 9/11 will probably always be unusual because they’re so hard to pull off. Mass shootings, on the other hand, are pretty easy, as long as the perps are self-sacrificing.

  16. grumpy realist says:

    Great comment over at TPM about the whole Rudy-firing-Sidney action:

    Never seen a sinking ship swim away from a rat before.


  17. Not the IT Dept. says:

    According to the Federalist, Biden stole the election:

    So I think you can say that while Trump’s political corpse gets kicked to the curb, the GOP now has a new line that we’ll hear nonstop over the next four years.

  18. CSK says:

    Maggie Haberman Tweeted that Trump found Powell “too conspiratorial even for him.”

  19. Kylopod says:


    Maggie Haberman Tweeted that Trump found Powell “too conspiratorial even for him.”

    I seriously doubt it was Trump himself who came up with the decision to can her. More likely he was talked into it by members of his team. I don’t believe he’s got any sense whatsoever of what’s “too far” or “too extreme.” This is the guy who promoted the demon-sperm lady. And he often won’t listen to the advice of his handlers. But, sometimes he does. That’s what I think happened here. Enough people on his team managed to convince him Powell wasn’t helping his case. The notion that Rudy is and Powell isn’t seems hard to discern–but I believe it’s a notion that’s coming from people other than Trump.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott F.: Their dues are paid up.

  21. CSK says:

    I was just saying the same thing to a friend. I doubt there’s any such thing as “too conspiratorial” for Trump. On the other hand, I have no doubt whatsoever that saner–and it’s hard not to be saner than Trump–people in his circled convinced him that Powell had to go.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: It reminds me a little of when some in the birther movement expressed alarm at Orly Taitz. They apparently found her too off the rails even for their standards. I’m wondering if there’s an element of sexism in these examples–a woman saying this stuff is easier to process in their mind as “hysterical” or kooky.

  23. dazedandconfused says:


    Accusing a Republican, Gov Kemp, of taking a bribe to swing the election = too conspiratorial. Waaaayyyyy to conspiratorial.

  24. grumpy realists says:

    If anyone is thinking that Trump’s legal team are carrying out some eleventy-seven dimensional chess move with Not Showing The Evidence Until Appeal…..

    ….they’re not.

    About the only reason I can see that these people are continuing the stream of appeals and filings….is so that they don’t get yelled at by the Orange Man.

    Oh, and with Sidney, it looks like it’s definitely trying to troll for contributions. I think she’s discovered the financial bounty available from the Stupid Right and is going to ride that train as long as the ca$h keeps pouring in.

  25. ImProPer says:


    Thanks for the laugh. From self proclaimed Republic savior and keeper of the Kraken, Sidney Powell’s website:

    “The future of our Republic is at stake. The left, the media, and a complicit Republican Establishment are attempting to steal this election through a staggering voter fraud operation.”

    If one were to take her a face value, that there was “staggering voter fraud” in an election system that is amazing in its ability to bring very small anomalies to light, wouldn’t that make her and the Trumpian dream team, staggeringly incompetent as evidence presenters? Maybe instead of “releasing the Kraken” , she should try releasing a semi competent attorney. Oh wait, that would kill the gravy train. Never mind.

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I think it’s strategic, to the extent that these clowns are capable of strategy anyway …

    She’s officially not connected to the campaign, but she’s continuing to spout her insanity (and drive fundraising). The campaign can sit back and say “she’s not one of us” while continuing to reap whatever benefit her tirades offer.