- The Trump campaign on Sunday announced it was parting ways with the attorney Sidney Powell.
- Powell’s wild conspiracy theories proved too much even for President Donald Trump, according to reports, as his campaign to overturn the election result in the courts descended last week into farce.
- Powell has alleged a vast plot by communists, the financier George Soros, and GOP officials in Georgia to steal the election from Trump. She has provided no convincing evidence to back the claims.
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When President Donald Trump on November 15 announced the legal team leading his campaign to overturn the result of the presidential election, among them the Dallas attorney Sidney Powell, he described the members as a “truly great team.”
But only a week later, the Trump campaign abruptly distanced itself from Powell. The attorney’s outlandish conspiracy theories apparently became too much even for a president whose political identity is founded on stirring suspicion of “deep state” elites.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
Sources close to the president told The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman that Powell’s claims had become too much for Trump and that for days the president had been “agitating” about Powell and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor leading the Trump campaign’s challenge in the courts.
A particular focus of his ire was said to be last Thursday’s bizarre press conference, where Powell aired the wild conspiracy theory — with no evidence — that Venezuelan socialists and the Jewish financier George Soros had orchestrated a vast plot using rigged voting machines to steal the election from Trump.
“She was too conspiratorial even for him,” one Trump adviser told Haberman.
Another tipping point was apparently a federal judge’s rejection on Saturday of the Trump campaign’s challenge to the election result in Pennsylvania, a rejection that included withering criticism of the legal case made by the campaign’s attorneys.
—Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 23, 2020
A Trump campaign official echoed the assessment in remarks to the Los Angeles Times’ legal-affairs columnist, Harry Litman.
In its courtroom presentations, where stating deliberate falsehoods can attract serious legal penalties, the Trump campaign has notably declined to air the more incendiary claims made by figures such as Powell.
—Harry Litman (@harrylitman) November 23, 2020
Powell is no stranger to stirring conspiracy theories in her defense of clients.
As the attorney for Michael Flynn, the former White House national security advisor, she promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents groundlessly believe that a “deep state” cabal of child-abusing Hollywood stars and Democrats are secretly plotting against Trump and his allies.
Comments to the far-right news organization Newsmax only two days after Thursday’s press conference attracted criticism even from the president’s allies.
In the interview, Powell claimed that top Republican officials in Georgia, including Gov. Brian Kemp, were part of a plot to fix the election.
“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, adding that her lawsuit would be “biblical” in its scale.
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who has long advised Trump, was scathing on Sunday about the Trump campaign’s faltering legal effort to overturn the election, describing the president’s legal team to ABC News as a “national embarrassment.” He singled out Powell’s claims about Georgia GOP officials for criticism, describing her conduct as “outrageous.”
In a statement released after the Trump campaign cut its ties with her, Powell refused to relent, pledging to submit an “epic” lawsuit this week containing evidence of the claims that have alienated her from the president’s allies.
Powell didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.