Donald Trump’s campaign has issued a statement clarifying that lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell is not part of its official legal team – not long after the president himself listed her as exactly that.
Issued on Sunday, the campaign’s press release declared that “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”
The statement was attributed to Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, who have taken the helm of the campaign’s legal operation. They did not explain why, if Ms Powell is indeed uninvolved, they invited her to speak at length at their press conference last week.
And to add to the confusion, the president wrote just a week ago that Ms Powell was indeed one of his crew.
“I look forward to Mayor Giuliani spearheading the legal effort to defend OUR RIGHT to FREE and FAIR ELECTIONS!” he wrote. “Rudy Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, a truly great team, added to our other wonderful lawyers and representatives!”
The awkward juxtaposition of this tweet with the campaign’s move to distance itself from Ms Powell was not missed on social media, with Mr Trump’s critics hammering the point home with screenshots of the two messages, as well as other instances of Ms Powell appearing in a campaign capacity.
What a train wreck
On left (Nov 22):
"Sidney Powell...is not a member of the Trump Legal Team"
On right (Nov 14):
Trump: "Giuliani...Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, a truly great team, added to our other wonderful lawyers"
I guess it turns on what the meaning of "is" is. pic.twitter.com/PbXawZ3xRa
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) November 22, 2020
Here’s the president eight days ago describing Sidney Powell as part of his legal team to contest the election: pic.twitter.com/1F6rhdw5pA
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) November 22, 2020
8 days ago Trump said Sidney Powell was on the team, 3 days ago the official GOP account elevated her conspiracy theories, and today they disavow Powell altogether.
This is an absolute trainwreck even by Trump standards. pic.twitter.com/tcHylNvvwK
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) November 23, 2020
4. Here is Sydney Powell appearing on Fox Business on November 13 where she is identified as a "Member Of President Trump's Legal Team" pic.twitter.com/UcChdGVqjH
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 22, 2020
Some also pointed out that many of the outlandish, baseless conspiracy theories that Ms Powell has repeatedly espoused in the last week have been publicly shared in various forms by Mr Trump’s advisers – and indeed by the president himself, who a week ago retweeted Ms Powell’s claim that voting machines were engineered by China, Venezuela and Cuba (the tweet came from an account that has since been deleted)
For her part, Ms Powell has endorsed the campaign’s statement distancing itself from her. “I agree with the campaign's statement that I am not part of the campaign's legal team,” she said in a statement of her own. “I never signed a retainer agreement or sent the President or the campaign a bill for my expenses or fees.” However, she also said she was still involved in lawsuits alleging massive fraud.
“We are proceeding to prepare our lawsuit and plan to file it this week. It will be epic. We will not allow this great Republic to be stolen by communists from without and within or our votes altered or manipulated by foreign actors.”
In another statement, this one to CBS News, Ms Powell was both circumspect and determined. “The chips will fall where they may, and we will defend the foundations of this great Republic. #KrakenOnSteroids.”
The “Kraken” to which she alludes is not the many-tentacled ocean giant of maritime legend, but a legal assault on the election results drawing on a supposedly devastating body of evidence. Asked to share this evidence with media outlets, Ms Powell has thus far declined.