ATLANTA — Lawyer Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to reduced charges Thursday over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia, becoming the second defendant in the sprawling case to reach a deal with prosecutors.
Powell, who was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law, entered the plea just a day before jury selection was set to start in her trial. A judge agreed that she will serve about six years of probation, have to pay $2,700 in restitution and have to testify truthfully against her co-defendants.
She was initially charged with racketeering and six other counts as part of a wide-ranging scheme to keep the Republican president in power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors say she also participated in an unauthorized breach of elections equipment in a rural Georgia county elections office.
The acceptance of a plea deal is a remarkable about-face for a lawyer who, perhaps more than anyone else, strenuously pushed baseless conspiracy theories about a stolen election in the face of extensive evidence to the contrary. If prosecutors compel her to testify, she could provide insight on a news conference she participated in on behalf of Trump and his campaign shortly after the election and on a White House meeting she attended in mid-December of that year during which strategies and theories to influence the outcome of the election were discussed.
Powell was scheduled to go on trial on Monday with lawyer Kenneth Chesebro after each filed a demand for a speedy trial. Jury selection was set to start Friday. The development means that Chesebro will go on trial by himself, though prosecutors said earlier that they also planned to look into the possibility of offering him a plea deal.
A lower-profile defendant in the case, bail bondsman Scott Graham Hall, last month pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to five years of probation and agreed to testify in further proceedings.
Prosecutors allege that Powell conspired with Hall and others to access election equipment without authorization and hired computer forensics firm SullivanStrickler to send a team to Coffee County, in south Georgia, to copy software and data from voting machines and computers there. The indictment says a person who is not named sent an email to a top SullivanStrickler executive and instructed him to send all data copied from Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Coffee County to an unidentified lawyer associated with Powell and the Trump campaign.