Prominent Trump ally and attorney Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to election-related charges on Thursday in return for cooperating with authorities looking into the former president.
Defense attorneys for several of those charged in connection with the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6 were taken aback by the relatively moderate sentence recommendations made by the sentencing phase.
Powell’s Guilty Plea Shockwaves Through Jan. 6 Cases
Powell received probation and a fine after pleading guilty to six Georgia misdemeanor offenses. She might have spent years in prison if found guilty of the original criminal counts she faced.
In her confession, she admitted to being responsible for hacking voting equipment in Coffee County, Georgia following the upcoming 2020 election.
Attorneys for defendants in the Capitol riot were outraged by the plea deal because their clients, many of whom played small parts in the scheme to reverse the election, face or have already earned hefty jail terms.
Attorney Bjorn Brunvand, whose client Robert Palmer received a 63-month sentence for assaulting officers, was “gobsmacked” by the sentence. “Gobsmacked is certainly an appropriate description considering the sentences that have been imposed against others who believed the lies spread by Donald Trump, Sidney Powell, and others,” he said.
The rules we all live by are not being applied uniformly. The kingpins in criminal plots usually strike agreements, while the pawns end up serving the longest sentences.
Powell wasn’t the only close Trump aide to plead guilty on the same day; Kenneth Chesebro also agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a lighter sentence.
For the Fulton County racketeering case against Trump and his friends for trying to change Georgia’s 2020 election results, their choice to aid the probe could yield important insider testimony.
An unparalleled view into the former president’s behavior may be provided by Powell and Chesebro’s first-hand assessments of Trump’s mentality and actions during his frantic attempt to cling to power after losing the election.
Foot Soldiers Pay Steep Price While Trump Allies Get Leniency
A few of the offenders from January 6 were given extremely lengthy prison terms, but Powell received a relatively light sentence.
“This is sick and scandalous,” said attorney Carmen Hernandez, who has defended Capitol rioters facing time in jail despite having no past records. “There are J6 defendants who have spent time while having no priors…. It’s disgusting, considering her status as a famous attorney and the fact that she was a significant voice in the “stolen election” hoax.
Joseph Biggs and Owen Shroyer’s attorney Norm Pattis remarked, “Ms. Powell must have promised Georgia a lot for this settlement. Meanwhile, regular J6 defendants who heeded her advice face harsh punishment.
Nothing about this encourages a healthy regard for the law. Biggs got 17 years for his crime, but Shroyer got 60 days for his single misdemeanor.
Cooperation Deal Could Be Turning Point in Trump Probes
The chance given by Powell’s insider knowledge was too important, other attorneys said, to pass up in exchange for a heavy sentence. If she is forthcoming with a lot of information, it might have serious consequences for Trump and his fellow defendants.
She was someone they desperately needed to work with. Attorney Gene Rossi, who is representing a defendant in a case that began on January 6th, stated, “She will be an explosively helpful witness.”
“If I were the state prosecutor, I could not ask for a better … cooperator testifying against President Trump and the others than the attorney who was going to be the special counsel for the ‘stop the steal’ investigation.”
Rossi pointed out that other offenders may be encouraged by Powell’s arrangement to cooperate soon in order to avoid receiving considerably harsher punishments. An attorney representing an Oath Keeper who was indicted on January 6th, Scott Weinberg, said he wasn’t surprised by the plea bargain because it was similar to the government’s arrangement with mobster Sammy Gravano to prosecute John Gotti.
“With these numerous prosecutions, indictments, involving massive resources both criminal and civil, it seems the government would hand out a jaywalking ticket to Charles Manson if it meant securing a conviction against Trump,” said Weinberg.
By helping state and federal investigators, Powell and Chesebro may be able to shed light on Trump’s actions between the election and January 6.
Their first-hand testimonies may provide new insight into Trump’s mental and motivational state during his last-ditch effort to retain power. The evidence uncovered by the probes, if any, might have far-reaching consequences for Trump’s innocence or guilt as time goes on.