Sidney Powell will not go quietly into the night … or so she promised yesterday. After getting tossed under the Team Trump bus last night by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, presumably for the increasingly insane allegations Powell was making without any evidence, Powell claimed to be working for “#WeThePeople” rather than Donald Trump. Instead of just “releasing the Kraken” as she (and Ellis) had earlier vowed, Powell pledge to release the “#KrakenOnSteroids” with her upcoming lawsuit:
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) November 23, 2020
If Powell had anything to release, Team Trump wouldn’t have cut her loose in the first place. However, there’s something valid in Powell’s claim to be working for “we the people,” Isaac Schorr pointed out last night at The Corner. Powell has been crowdfunding her efforts from followers, and Schorr calls the effort “a glorified cash register”:
After the press conference, Ellis even proclaimed that Giuliani and Powell had “RELEASED THE KRAKEN,” a phrase Powell first started using in relation to the legal team’s efforts.
So, it seems rather farcical to suggest that Powell has not been a major part of Team Trump.
However, Powell has apparently not been getting paid by Donald Trump or his campaign. She announced as much on the “Examining Politics” podcast on Friday, on which she was interviewed by talk radio host Larry O’Connor. She ended the conversation by explaining, “I’m being paid by the people of the United States of America, and I want to make sure we get this right for the future of this country. It’s called defendingtherepublic.org.” The shoddily constructed website, which has been registered as a 501(c)(4), is a glorified cash register.
So Powell has been sowing Americans’ distrust in our system and each other, presumably while taking donations from the average Joes she spends so much time purporting to fight for.
That would certainly explain the escalating insanity coming from Powell, which apparently prompted last night’s underbus toss. Thanks to the runoff elections in Georgia, this is not a zero-risk game for Republicans, and Powell was threatening to burn it all down:
Ms. Powell was described as a member of the legal team’s “elite strike force” at the news conference on Thursday as she laid out an elaborate conspiracy theory about efforts by the former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, to essentially rig elections in the United States by using voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems. While Mr. Trump has become obsessed with the idea of a global conspiracy, cybersecurity officials from his own government have said there is no evidence that machines were compromised.
Appearing on the conservative network Newsmax on Saturday night, Ms. Powell further pushed the conspiracy theory, saying that two top Republicans in Georgia — Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — were taking payoffs as part of the scheme, and that Representative Doug Collins of Georgia had in fact won his race for Senate against Senator Kelly Loeffler. (He did not; Ms. Loeffler’s race is heading to a runoff without Mr. Collins.) Ms. Powell said she planned to file a “biblical” suit in the state.
Two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 are set to determine which party controls the Senate, and Republicans have grown anxious that the Trump campaign’s legal efforts there could affect those races, which are likely to have lower turnout than this month’s general election.
Even if one takes Powell at face value, she might have some problems filing suit now that the Trump campaign has cut ties with her. She would likely lack standing for the kind of election challenge Powell has been threatening to file. Normally, those kinds of broad election challenges come from candidates or political parties, not individual voters. To have standing, one has to show a potential harm with a scope commensurate to the demanded remedy. An individual voter could demand to have his ballot counted, but not to throw out millions of other ballots. Even in a class action, the remedy can’t exceed the scope, and that assumes Powell actually has a rational case to submit in the first place. If neither Trump or the GOP sign onto Powell’s case, she might never get a chance to argue even an irrational case.
Maybe Powell is seeking a larger form of standing … we could call it grandstanding.
Speaking of scope, that’s a problem for Team Trump in Pennsylvania, too. They filed an emergency appeal of their latest loss in the state, but only on a narrow issue, and they’re now claiming that they’re not seeking to invalidate legal votes:
President Donald Trump’s campaign filed a narrow appeal Sunday in its longshot bid to have Trump declared the victor in the presidential race in Pennsylvania despite lagging more than 71,000 votes behind President-elect Joe Biden.
With Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar set to certify the results of the election as soon as Monday, the Trump campaign filed an emergency motion with the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals asking that court to compel a lower court to accept a redrafted complaint contending that election officials excluded observers as part of an effort to process thousands of flawed mail-in ballots that largely favored Biden. …
Trump campaign attorney Brian Caffrey emphasized in the filing that the campaign was not seeking to nullify every vote cast in the state, despite suggestions that the state legislature take over the naming of electors due to alleged taint of the Nov. 3 election.
“Appellants seek to exclude the defective mail ballots which overwhelming favored Biden, which may turn the result of the Election. Appellants do not seek to exclude any legally cast votes,” wrote Caffrey.
Technically, that’s still accurate. The effort to get the legislature to void the election is political rather than legal, although it depends on blocking certification until the safe-harbor date of December 8. The Third Circuit is likely to take a dim view of that parsing, however, as well as complaints that the court didn’t allow Giuliani to constantly redraft their complaint while in court. They’re also going to be very reluctant to throw out mail-in ballots at this point, especially since the Supreme Court punted on a related issue a couple of weeks before the election. But at least this challenge isn’t insane.