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Trump floated appointing Sidney Powell, lawyer who promoted conspiracy theories, as special counsel on voter fraud

President Trump floated appointing Sidney Powell, the attorney his legal team disavowed after she promoted conspiracy theories about the election, as special counsel to investigate voter fraud, according to two advisers to Mr. Trump. Her name was suggested during a meeting in the White House.

The news of Powell's possible appointment was first reported by The New York Times

A senior campaign official told CBS News they personally like Powell's "hardcore nationalism," but said that is a minority opinion within the campaign. The person added that "establishment types" within the campaign are increasingly wary of Powell's influence on the president and his agenda.

One adviser to Mr. Trump called Powell "a disastrous mistake." 

Mr. Trump tweeted on November 14 that Powell was part of his "truly great team" filing legal challenges to challenge the election results. Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani also identified her as a member of the legal team, and she appeared with him at a press conference to discuss the campaign's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

Rudy Giuliani Holds News Conference in Washington About Voter Fraud
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a news conference with Rudy Giuliani. The Washington Post

Powell promoted a number of baseless conspiracy theories about the election, including that the deceased Hugo Chávez, among others, had rigged the election against Mr. Trump by programming voting machines to switch votes for the president to President-elect Joe Biden. Powell's claims were viewed as far fetched even by typical allies of the president. Fox News host Tucker Carlson said she refused to provide him with any evidence of her claims about vote switching.

"When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her," Carlson said. "When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they also told us Powell had never given them any evidence to prove anything she claimed at the press conference."

Mr. Trump's legal team sent a memo Saturday to dozens of staffers instructing them to preserve all documents related to Dominion Voting Systems — a voting software company used in 28 states specifically mentioned by Powell and Mr. Trump on numerous occasions — and Powell in anticipation of potential ligation by the company against the pro-Trump attorney. 

On November 23, Trump senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis said Powell was not a member of the Trump legal team, despite the earlier claims.

Powell issued a press release after Ellis' announcement that she "understands" the press release, but she would "continue to represent #WeThePeople who had their votes for Trump and other Republicans stolen by massive fraud through Dominion and Smartmatic, and we will be filing suit soon." She added the hashtag "#KrakenOnSteriods." 

Powell has since filed lawsuits in several states challenging the election results. A federal judge on December 8 dismissed a lawsuit Powell filed in Georgia alleging widespread voter fraud and absentee ballot-related errors. Judges in Wisconsin and Arizona dismissed similar lawsuits brought by Powell a day later. 

"Not only have Plaintiffs failed to provide the Court with factual support for their extraordinary claims, but they have wholly failed to establish that they have standing for the Court to consider them. Allegations that find favor in the public sphere of gossip and innuendo cannot be a substitute for earnest pleadings and procedure in federal court," U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa wrote in her decision. "They most certainly cannot be the basis for upending Arizona's 2020 General Election."

Powell and several associates have appealed their dismissed cases to the Supreme Court. They have also attempted to consolidate their challenges to the election results in Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona into one lawsuit, even though they failed to correctly file paperwork for the Wisconsin and Arizona appeals, and therefore did not get them docketed by the court.

The Supreme Court previously declined to hear a case challenging the results of the election brought by the state of Texas.

Caroline Linton and Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.

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