Recently, I was accused of being a conspiracy theorist for believing that Donald Trump was trying to steal the election. I find this accusation rather ironic because the lawyer helping Trump steal the election, Sidney Powell, is a hardcore QAnon disciple getting paid to spread a conspiracy theory about how Democrats used an elaborate computer system financed by communist countries to hide the fact that Trump beat Biden “by a landslide.”
During the summer months leading up to the election, I provided plenty of evidence concerning Trump’s plan to steal the election:
- July 2020 – Openly suggested postponing or cancelling 2020 election
- August 2020 – Put a Trumpist in charge of the USPS to slow down mail-in ballots
- August 2020 – Announced plan to deploy law enforcement to “patrol” polling places
Likely knowing that these plans didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of success, Trump took a page from his 2016 playbook to begin spreading a lie about how he’d only lose if the election is rigged against him and used it to build a “contingency plan.”
According to a report by The Atlantic, this contingency plan bypasses voters and the election results by appointing Trump loyalists to the Electoral College (EC) in states where Republicans hold state-level majorities.
The report delves into possible scenarios if Trump apparently loses the 2020 presidential election but doesn’t concede, noting that although we’re used to electors being selected based on the popular vote, “nothing in the Constitution says it has to be that way.” Citing Republican Party sources, The Atlantic says that Trump’s campaign is “discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.”
Could Trump steal the election by hijacking the Electoral College? As I pointed out in a September 2020 article, the Supreme Court paved the way for that very idea.
Based on a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of appeals filed by the states of Washington and Colorado — both states are participants in the National Popular Vote Initiative Compact, a plan to essentially eliminate the Electoral College — states are free to do as they wish concerning their EC delegates.
“The Constitution is barebones about electors. Article II includes only the instruction to each State to appoint, in whatever way it likes, as many electors as it has Senators and Representatives.” ~ Justice Elena Kagan (emphasis mine)
But before we get to the Electoral College stage, Trump’s needs to establish his claim of a rigged or stolen election. And what better way to do that than with a good ol’ fashion conspiracy theory like the one being spread by Trump’s QAnon-loving lawyer Sidney Powell.
What does Sidney Powell and QAnon have to do with Trump stealing the election? When it comes to Sidney Powell — one of the lead attorneys handling Trump’s case — much more than you realize.
In a BusinessInsider.com story, we learn that Powell is a longtime QAnon supporter, and she has a history of spreading conspiracy theories.
Sidney Powell, an attorney for the Trump campaign, shot to prominence on Thursday, alleging at a press conference that President Donald Trump’s enemies were working to steal the election from him as part of a vast conspiracy.
Powell claimed the socialist Venezuelan government and the liberal financier George Soros — a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories — were part of the plot but has rejected requests for any proof to substantiate her claim.
Her allegations Thursday align with Powell’s previous work as a lawyer for Michael Flynn and as a public supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Flynn was Trump’s first national security advisor and was investigated as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry.
Even before representing Flynn, she had expressed support for QAnon, which groundlessly alleges that a Satanic cabal of child-abusing Democrats and Hollywood stars secretly manipulates world events. The conspiracy theory is embraced by a large swath of Trump supporters and even some GOP lawmakers.
Flynn is one of the heroes of the QAnon movement and has used QAnon slogans and hashtags in an apparent signal of allegiance.
Powell has likewise long shared QAnon slogans on social media, making her one of the first high-profile Trump supporters to back the movement.
Michael Flynn's new attorney, Sidney Powell, has repeatedly retweeted major QAnon accounts, including one of the 3 people NBC News reported who helped popularize the conspiracy theory. pic.twitter.com/NErSoX04ex
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) June 12, 2019
Following her work for Flynn, Sidney Powell applied what she learned to earn a spot on Trump’s team. BusinessInsider.com continues:
Powell is now redeploying the playbook she used to defend Flynn, this time to stir suspicion of the election result that the Trump campaign is pushing to overhaul, in a bid experts think has essentially no chance of success.
As well her claims Thursday, Powell has claimed some election machines used in US elections were designed specifically to rig election races in Latin America, a claim rebutted by the fact-checking site PolitiFact.
How committed is Sidney Powell to her QAnon conspiracy theory? “We are not going to back down,” she said. “We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it, and we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.”
Members of the Trump cult have actually been arguing that Trump’s refusal to accept losing the election may be “problematic,” but defend his shenanigans as worthwhile because it is helping to expose election fraud. But as Jonah Goldberg stated in his recent newsletter documenting how stealing the election was always the plan, that’s equivalent to forgiving a bank robber because he exposed weaknesses in bank security.
Goldberg also puts the blame squarely where this whole mess belongs: the Republican Party and the “leaders” dominating the so-called conservative media.
I know I’m a broken record about how the weakness of our political parties is poisoning our politics. But look, political parties are supposed to be patriotic institutions. … And yet, the RNC hosted that hate crime against democratic legitimacy yesterday. The GOP’s social media account spewed soundbites from Powell and Giuliani out into the country like a firehose attached to a sewage tank.
A serious party that cared about its long-term credibility, never mind the long-term credibility of our political system, would walk away from this burning septic tank en masse. Instead it spends its days lobbing Molotov cocktails of flaming B.S. from its windows.
As for the conservative “leaders” who think it’s their job to tell their readers, viewers, and listeners what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear for the good of the country, my contempt is total. In a system with weak parties, it is incumbent on the ideological allies of the party to explain to the rank-and-file what is true and right. Pandering to them is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. The whole point of the conservative movement is to protect and preserve the legitimacy of the constitutional order and the blessings of liberty such an order was intended to secure. Indulging feelings—no matter how sincerely felt—when they don’t align with the actual facts undermines that project.
Sadly, Trump and Powell appear to be succeeding in delegitimizing the election in the eyes of Trump’s sycophantic followers. According to the latest YouGov poll, 88% of those who voted for Trump believe the result is illegitimate.
According to The Economist's latest poll from YouGov, 88% of those who voted for Donald Trump think that the election result is illegitimate https://t.co/OchMXlU4Ba
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) November 21, 2020
It’s important that we remember that Powell isn’t some rogue agent working independent of Donald Trump; she’s doing exactly what he wants her to do — spreading QAnon conspiracy theories to steal the election.
The past four years have been exhausting, and it’s tempting to dismiss this whole mess as just another example of Trump’s ineptitude and unfitness to be president, but engaging in election fraud to allegedly expose election fraud shouldn’t be ignored.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.