(CNN) The extraordinary plea agreement struck by former Donald Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell in the Georgia election subversion case on the eve of her trial will fundamentally alter the course of the current state and federal investigations into the former president.
Powell continued to spread misinformation on social media as late as Tuesday, alleging that Trump was the victim of election rigging in 2020. However, she entered a courthouse in Atlanta on Thursday and acknowledged that she had attempted to tamper with the 2020 election.
She agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants in any future prosecutions, including one against Donald Trump, as part of her plea agreement with Fulton County prosecutors.
On Thursday’s episode of “News Central,” CNN senior legal expert Elie Honig declared, “This is a really big breakthrough for prosecutors.” “Partially cooperating is not an option.”
Here’s a breakdown of how this could impact the cases going forward.
Why did she plead now?
Nothing incites a defendant to reach a settlement like the prospect of a trial. And by the looks of things, Powell at least, this is exactly what transpired. Powell entered a guilty plea to six misdemeanors rather than facing trial on seven crimes. Prosecutors suggested a probation-only term as part of the agreement.
Just two defendants—Powell and Donald Trump-supporting attorney Kenneth Chesebro—claimed their right to a prompt trial under Georgia law. Jury selection is scheduled to start on Friday after Chesebro entered a not-guilty plea.
What could Powell testify about?
Most famously, on December 18, 2020, Powell was present at a White House meeting where some of Trump’s most radical allies urged him to appoint Powell as a special counsel to look into allegations of voter fraud, to consider imposing martial law, and to issue executive orders directing the military to seize voting machines.
Prominent purveyors of disproven election conspiracy theories, like former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, were also there. (Giuliani has entered a not-guilty plea and was also indicted in the Georgia case.)
She is expected to testify about her direct involvement in the hack of Coffee County, Georgia’s election systems, according to the plea documents. In this case, a disorganized group of Donald Trump supporters worked with a local election official to obtain sensitive government data in an absurd attempt to find evidence of widespread voter fraud.
During the wild post-election period, Powell also maintained contact with the Donald Trump White House and other individuals close to the president, publicly threatening to “release the Kraken” by bringing litigation around the nation that she wrongly claimed may keep Trump in office. Her cases were rejected as frivolous.
According to CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams, cooperators like Powell “can provide firsthand testimony about things they saw, things they overheard” on “News Central” on Thursday. “And prosecutors have the right to revoke this plea agreement and take these people to trial if they are not satisfied with the evidence that has been presented.”
Who should be looking over their shoulder?
The most obvious consequence of Powell’s plea is that this could hurt Donald Trump’s defense.
Honig remarked, “She’s going to have to acknowledge that, yes, we were attempting to rig the election, yes, I knew it was against the law, and yes, it was a crime.” “Her testimony against the other seventeen co-defendants, including Donald Trump, is subject to all of that.”
Zooming out, however, puts at risk everyone who collaborated with Powell to rig the election, including the Coffee County breachers and those present at the White House meeting. The fact that a crucial figure is now employed by the prosecutors does not aid them.
Powell may now be asked to provide evidence against other members of Donald Trump’s inner circle with whom he had multiple interactions. Her guilty plea also ties the group of Republicans to the early 2021 hacking of Coffee County’s election infrastructure. Scott Hall, a bail bondsman who was allegedly involved in the plot, has already entered a guilty plea.
She also maintained contact with notable members of the right-wing media, such as Maria Bartiromo, the host of Fox Business, and Tucker Carlson, the host of Fox News. Voting technology businesses have filed defamation lawsuits against all three of them, and the charges of defamation may be strengthened by Powell’s admissions in the criminal proceedings.
How does this impact the special counsel’s case against Donald Trump?
Thanks to Powell, special counsel Jack Smith of the Justice Department, who brought federal accusations of election subversion against Trump, may potentially receive a ton of fresh information.
Federal investigators may attempt to get any statements or testimony she gives to Georgia state prosecutors to use against Donald Trump in his upcoming federal trial in Washington, DC, which is set to start in March.)
Powell was also named as a co-conspirator in Donald Trump‘s federal indictment but was not charged, indicating that the special counsel thinks Powell breached the law. She could face federal charges as a result, therefore she might try to work with Smith as well.
Powell is characterized as “an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud (Donald Trump) privately acknowledged to others sounded ‘crazy’” in the federal indictment
From 2017 to 21, Donald Trump presided as the 45th president of the United States. He was the only president to be impeached twice, once in 2019 (he was cleared by the U.S. Senate in 2020) and once in 2021. He was the third president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
Numerous news outlets have made an effort to determine his net worth. By 2023, Forbes pegs the value at $2.6 billion, despite Trump’s far greater predictions. Trump’s father left him an inheritance as well as gifts and loans. Real estate endeavors, encompassing hotels, casinos, and golf courses, have been his principal business.
John Francis Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general and former political strategist, was President Donald Trump’s chief of staff in the White House from 2017 to 2019. He was born on May 11, 1950.
Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021.