For the first time, prosecutors have received assistance from someone closely involved with a candidate who tried to remain in office after losing an election,
this time related to Donald J. Trump. Just two weeks after Mr. Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, attorney Sidney Powell held a rally at the Republican National Committee headquarters during a press conference.
One of President Trump’s closest allies, Rudy W. Giuliani, stood by her side as Ms. Powell presented a baseless conspiracy theory.
She claimed that a voting machine company called Dominion had worked with a generous financier and a secret Venezuelan agency to manipulate votes, effectively taking them away from Mr. Trump and giving them to his rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
These unfounded claims were at the center of a series of federal lawsuits that Ms. Powell filed, challenging Mr. Trump’s loss. Despite the Trump campaign’s subsequent attempt to disassociate itself from her assertions, she quickly resurfaced in Mr. Trump’s sphere,
participating in an Oval Office gathering aimed at exploring an audacious strategy to secure voting machines and essentially conduct a reiteration of the election.
On Thursday, in a move that stunned former President and his advisers, Ms. Powell, during a court hearing in Atlanta without prior notice, turned on Mr. Trump, casting blame on him and others for her false accusations of election theft in Georgia and agreeing to cooperate with investigators.
This unexpected turn of events was a significant win for Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., who is prosecuting the hotly contested election case during this sweltering summer.
But for Mr. Trump, it was unquestionably more significant; it marked the first time anyone who was closely involved with his efforts to stay in power had struck a cooperation agreement with officials.
The content of Ms. Powell’s potential testimony against Mr. Trump remains uncertain. However, if she stands by her claims in her Georgia election case, she could shed light on several tactics employed by officials to stay in power, despite the will of the voters.
The terms of her cooperation agreement, revealed on Thursday during a court hearing in Atlanta without prior notice, raised other questions: Will she assist federal prosecutors who have charged several other Trump allies who filed election challenges in Washington and appeared to serve as unidentified co-conspirators?
Will anyone else in the Georgia case be willing to cut a similar deal? (Ms. Powell was found to be in contempt for her false claims and received a reprimand.)
Two people close to Mr. Trump’s Georgia election case suggested Ms. Powell could be a more problematic witness, given the history of her bizarre statements. Stephen H. Sadow, Mr. Trump’s Georgia lawyer, said in a statement that, “It will be helpful if a witness agrees with the basic premises of your defense.
Nonetheless, should she opt not to cooperate, it could present a substantial challenge.
Former federal prosecutor Chris Christie, currently considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, commented, “Entering into a non-incarceration agreement with someone not offering substantial assistance is an unusual practice.
The instant deal with Ms. Powell suggested a strategic shift, as investigators zeroed in on the former president’s efforts to maintain power after losing. While Mr. Trump faces numerous legal challenges, most are civil suits. Ms. Powell’s deal in Georgia could signal a potential pathway for prosecutors to explore criminal charges.
Up until now, the only people who have reached cooperation agreements in connection with Mr. Trump’s four criminal cases were relatively minor players.
Back in September, Scott Hall, a bail bondsman in Georgia, admitted his guilt in the Georgia election case where Mr. Trump and 17 others were accused.He consented to provide testimony against his fellow defendants.
In a recent development, federal prosecutors, who had levied allegations against these individuals for the unauthorized possession of classified documents and impeding government attempts to recover them, came to an agreement with one of Mr. Trump’s IT specialists. specialists,
Yuseal Taveras. Mr. Taveras explained efforts to strengthen surveillance footage that they had used to remove a part of their case.
Mr. Trump prefers to have some level of control over anything related to him, so the news that Sidney Powell might potentially turn against him was an unexpected development.
Nonetheless, individuals in her inner circle emphasized that her primary focus appeared to be directed towards her legal battle with the New York Attorney General, even as they acknowledged her evident frustration.
Officials have long argued that cooperating defendants and those who work for Mr. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and Jack Smith, who is overseeing federal prosecutors in Mr. Trump’s federal investigation, have not coordinated their efforts, even though several common players are involved in their separate cases.
This makes it challenging to know whether Sidney Powell might ultimately reach a deal with Mr. Smith, as she did with Mr. Willis.
Although Mr. Smith was expected to call Sidney Powell as a witness in his case, it appears that she might have been more concerned about testifying against him in her application for her fifth amendment rights.
As mentioned, any testimony provided by Sidney Powell in Fulton County could potentially be used against her to a significant extent, if Mr. Smith ultimately decides to bring charges against her.
However, Sidney Powell’s new role as a cooperating witness in Georgia could present a significant threat to Mr. Trump, as she is in a position to expose several tactics employed in his federal investigation,
as well as his allies who have filed suits challenging democracy in Washington, even if she was initially reluctant to testify against Mr. Smith, it appears that her role in Georgia could prove to be even more significant.
This news underscores the complex situation surrounding Mr. Trump’s legal challenges, and the potential for different witnesses to play different roles in these cases.