A state judge rejected Trump-aligned lawyer Sidney Powell’s request to dismiss her Georgia charges over accusations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s (D) office committed prosecutorial misconduct.
Powell’s attorney at a Thursday court hearing argued she had nothing to do with an elections office breach in Coffee County, Ga., that she is charged over in the indictment, alleging that prosecutors had failed to interview key witnesses and ignored evidence.
“Dismissing an indictment is also something where you have to show prejudice,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said. “It’s something that’s not done lightly and it has to be something that’s done with a concrete reason.”
“And just purely on procedural grounds, I don’t believe that this motion to dismiss for misconduct … I don’t see that as clearing just the procedural bar of being something that’s under the court’s authority,” he continued.
Powell is set to go to trial in less than three weeks alongside another Trump-aligned attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, though both have pleaded not guilty and have filed other pretrial motions challenging the charges. The former president and 16 others indicted in the case will be tried at a later date.
All of the defendants are charged with racketeering over an alleged months-long conspiracy to keep Trump in power following the 2020 election.
Beyond the racketeering charge, Powell faces six other counts in connection with an election equipment breach at an office in Coffee County, a rural part of the state located south of Atlanta, in January 2021.
Brian Rafferty, Powell’s attorney, had argued in the dismissal motion that prosecutors had committed “troubling and unethical conduct” in charging Powell, because she had “nothing to do” with the Coffee County breach, and that it wasn’t a crime anyways because local officials had extended an invitation to visit the office.
Rafferty in a separate motion also accused prosecutors of failing to overturn exculpatory evidence that would help show Powell’s innocence.
“Ms. Powell had nothing to do with Coffee County, she didn’t have anything to do with it,” Rafferty said at the hearing.
“I’ve been contending that there’s evidence that shows that,” he added. “So that testimony, emails, documents, other information that demonstrates that people were asked, ‘What do you know about Ms. Powell, connected to Coffee County?’ And they say nothing. Never talked to her, never spoke with her, never met with her.”
Responding to the misconduct accusations, Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten called them “absurd” and “unsupported.”
“The court has heard no evidence other than we don’t like the fact that we got indicted, we disagree with the state’s theory of the case, and therefore there must have been prosecutorial misconduct. That is not how this works,” Wooten said.
Powell is accused in the indictment of entering into a contract with data firm SullivanStrickler for the purpose of willfully tampering with tabulating machines and electronic ballot markers in the county.
Rafferty said at the hearing that the metadata on the document shows that Powell’s name on the contract was typed by another individual, Jim Penrose.
Rafferty also said there were communications showing that Coffee County officials had extended a letter of invitation to inspect the election equipment.
Prosecutors have insisted they have turned over all the exculpatory evidence, but Rafferty accused them of not taking a “meaningful look” or hiding an “exculpatory needle in a haystack of discovery.”
“This is favorable stuff, very favorable and exculpatory to Ms. Powell that I asked for, and they said it doesn’t exist when in fact it did,” Rafferty said at the hearing. “And so, I mean, I’m at a loss here, your honor. As I said, we’re going to be sitting here for four months trying a case where there’s all this evidence that they have that they know Ms. Powell wasn’t involved.”
Powell and Chesebro are set to go to trial later this month, with jury selection beginning Oct. 20. One of Chesebro’s attorneys at Thursday’s hearing indicated that prosecutors had provided a list of 174 trial witnesses.
Just prior to the hearing, prosecutors in court filings identified six out-of-state witnesses who they intend to call.
That list includes Boris Epshteyn, a lawyer in Trump’s inner circle; Lin Wood, an attorney who filed lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss; and multiple pro-Trump individuals in swing states who served as alternate electors.
Scott Hall, another defendant charged in connection to the Coffee County breach, reached a plea agreement last week and agreed to testify honestly in the case.