Skip to Content

Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell ‘is cooperating’ with federal criminal probe into fundraising

<i>Ben Margot/AP/FILE</i><br/>A lawyer for Sidney Powell
AP
Ben Margot/AP/FILE
A lawyer for Sidney Powell

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

A lawyer for Sidney Powell, a well-known, Trump-connected attorney, acknowledged that her organization’s fundraising connected to the 2020 election is subject to an ongoing federal criminal investigation.

Powell’s lawyer, Howard Kleinhendler, told CNN that his client “is cooperating” with the investigation into her organization, Defending the Republic, by the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia. That cooperation includes “rolling productions” of documents.

The Washington Post first reported details of the probe, including a grand jury subpoena for records related to it, in November.

Powell has not been charged with a crime. The investigation has continued this year, though two sources with knowledge of the probe tell CNN it’s unclear when — if ever — any charges would be filed.

A spokesman for the DC US Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Friday.

Powell’s response to the federal investigators and to a major defamation lawsuit from the company Dominion Voting Systems comes into play as she now prepares to respond to the House select committee investigating January 6, which subpoenaed her this week.

Kleinhendler said she already has tens of thousands of documents on hand to turn over to the committee, and plans to respond to what it’s requested.

He also said she is willing to testify to the committee.

“She looks forward to providing the committee with significant evidence in support of the election fraud statements and claims she presented on behalf of the electors and clients she represented,” Kleinhendler said after Powell received the House subpoena this week. “Ms. Powell is a practicing lawyer, and she will comply to the full extent required by law and legal ethics.”

Still, when the committee asks Powell about communications she had with Trump, that is “going to get a little hairy,” Kleinhendler told CNN.

He said Powell believes that the times Trump called her to ask for legal advice may be covered by attorney-client privilege — even if he never paid her to be his or his campaign’s lawyer. Powell never worked as a lawyer for the former President personally or for the Trump campaign, Kleinhendler said.

“We’ll have to deal with that, and we’ll have to try to discuss with the committee to see how” to handle privilege issues, Kleinhendler said.

Powell’s legal problems have compounded since the 2020 election.

She became one of the most prominent attorneys fronting lawsuits that supported Trump and made accusations of widespread election fraud, encouraging supporters to funnel money into legal efforts, especially through Defending the Republic.

The group says on its website that it was founded to protect the integrity of US elections. In more recent months, it also has opposed coronavirus vaccine mandates, filing a lawsuit and a Supreme Court amicus brief.

Powell rose to prominence during the Trump presidency when she represented former national security adviser Michael Flynn following his guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia in late 2016.

She helped secure a pardon for Flynn from Trump in the last months of his presidency. Powell revealed in a court hearing in September 2020 that she had a direct line of communication to both Trump and Jenna Ellis, an attorney who pushed various election fraud conspiracies on the former President’s behalf and was also subpoenaed by the House committee this week.

In late November 2020, after stepping into Trump’s election fraud efforts in court, Powell was front-and-center at a chaotic news conference alongside Rudy Giuliani where they shared their conspiracy theories. She unsuccessfully tried to take a lawsuit from Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and others to the Supreme Court in a quixotic bid to overturn the election result.

Since then, Dominion and others have sued Powell or sought to sanction her in federal court, with one judge ordering that she compensate attorneys’ fees for those she sued in Michigan.

Powell sat for one deposition in an election-related defamation lawsuit brought by former Dominion Voting Services employee Eric Coomer. Powell had publicly accused the company of tampering with votes.

Dominion also is suing Powell in federal court. A federal judge moved the case into the evidence collection phase in August, but the company has yet to depose Powell, Kleinhendler said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource

Skip to content