Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Now She Gotta Be A Q-Anon Conspiracist Too?!?!?!?

politico |  While Trump praised the new hire on Twitter, calling Powell a “GREAT LAWYER,” legal observers scratched their heads. Powell, who is in her 60s (she would not confirm her exact age), had shared content from social media accounts associated with QAnon, the wide-ranging conspiracy movement holding in part that Trump is doing battle with demonic, pedophile-loving Democrats and members of the deep state. The timing was also odd. Flynn’s sentencing had been delayed at that point because of procedural issues, but it was expected soon. And Mueller had recommended that Flynn receive no prison time because of the “substantial assistance” he provided in the special counsel investigation. (Flynn, under Powell’s advisement, is not speaking to the media.)

It was clear soon enough that Powell was taking a different tack. In August, she moved to have Flynn’s case dismissed for what she called “pernicious” prosecutorial misconduct, and requested that Emmet Sullivan, the presiding District Court judge, hold prosecutors in contempt for allegedly hiding FBI documents and communications that she said proved Flynn was pressured to plead guilty. In a court brief filed in October, she asserted that Flynn had been “deliberately targeted for destruction” by the intelligence community. The government countered that it had already relinquished any relevant material and that Powell was advancing “conspiracy theories” to fish for evidence that did not exist.

This week, Flynn officially sought to withdraw his guilty plea “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement,” as Powell wrote in a court brief. Sullivan pushed back the sentencing by another month to consider the unusual request. But, says Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. attorney specializing in national security matters, “The scorched-earth strategy that Powell is using is rarely effective with judges.”

That Powell was seemingly blind to this likely outcome speaks to her full embrace of the Trumpian ethos of grievance and “alternative facts.” Which wasn’t always her M.O.: A federal prosecutor herself for a decade, Powell turned on her own ilk and spent years making a forceful case against prosecutorial overreach—a legitimate issue. It was when her cause came to align with Trump’s and Flynn’s plight as targets of Mueller’s probe that she worked her way into a deep state-hating, MAGA-loving network that landed her a high-profile client.

But the MAGA echo chamber, it seems, doesn’t always benefit its residents once they’re outside that bubble. While a strategy of denial and attacking the enemy might have worked for Trump during the Mueller investigation (and might yet work for him in his impeachment trial), Michael Flynn is not the president. If her client ends up in prison, it might be because of the Trumpian strategy Sidney Powell embraced.

“Crackpot conspiracy theories get easy traction on the internet,” says John Schindler, a former NSA analyst who has been critical of Flynn, but also of Hillary Clinton and the FBI. “They’re less likely to do well in federal court.”