One reporter said the plea shows the prosecution is "working... up the proverbial food chain when it comes to flipping lower-level defendants and trying to get to the king at the top."
Disgraced attorney Sidney Powell—a key legal architect of former U.S. President Donald Trump's effort to rig the 2020 presidential contest—pleaded guilty Thursday to reduced charges in the Georgia election interference case, a move that came just one day before jury selection in her trial would have started.
Powell, Trump, and 17 others were charged in August by Democratic Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis with violations of Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for allegedly participating in a sprawling "criminal enterprise" aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election results in the state.
Trump faces 13 criminal charges in the case, one of four state and federal cases in which the 2024 GOP presidential front-runner is charged with a combined 91 counts.
According toThe Associated Press, Powell, who is 68 years old, will serve six years of probation, pay a $6,000 fine, and write an apology letter to the state and people of Georgia. Critically, she must also testify truthfully against her co-defendants at future trials.
Powell is the second defendant in the Georgia case to take a plea deal. Last month, bail bondsman Scott Hall pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.
Jury selection in the trial of Powell co-defendant Kenneth Cheseboro, who is allegedly behind the Trump fake electors plot, is set to start Friday.
Powell, a prolific purveyor of Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats, claimed that Dominion Voting Systems was part of a plot to rig its voting machines to switch large numbers of votes from Trump to President Joe Biden.
In December 2020, Powell, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne allegedly presented a draft executive order to Trump involving the seizure of voting machines by armed private contractors. She was also accused of involvement in arranging the illegal collection of data from election systems and voting machines at the Coffee County, Georgia elections office in January 2021.
Powell also associated herself with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibal pedophiles including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks are involved in an international child sex-trafficking ring.
Once described by Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis as part of an "elite strike force" working to prove the former president's stolen election claim, Powell was later sidelined after peddling baseless claims of vote hacking involving Venezuela, Cuba, and "communist money."
"She was too crazy even for the president," one unnamed Trump official toldThe Washington Post in November 2020.
Reacting to Powell's plea deal, MSNBC's Katie Phang said that "it is the communications between her and Donald Trump that are really kind of working your way up the proverbial food chain when it comes to flipping lower-level defendants and trying to get to the king at the top."