More than a few Donald Trump allies peddled all kinds of nonsensical conspiracy theories after the Republican's election defeat last fall, but Sidney Powell was among the most prolific voices promoting truly bizarre ideas.
In fact, Powell's claims were so outlandish that they're now at the center of an ongoing lawsuit, which, as NBC News reported, has led to a rather amazing defense.
Ex-Trump attorney Sidney Powell's weekslong campaign to invalidate the results of the 2020 election was not based in fact, her lawyers said Monday. "No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact," Powell's attorneys said in a court filing defending her against a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, the manufacturer of the election equipment she claimed was involved in the conspiracy to steal the election.
Let's back up for a minute to review how we arrived at this point.
After Trump's 2020 defeat, the then-outgoing president hoped a team of "political misfits" would find a way to help Trump keep power he hadn't earned. Helping lead the charge was Powell, whose over-the-top nonsense was so ridiculous that she was eventually fired. Even Rudy Giuliani said Powell's ideas exceeded "the bounds of rationality."
Trump nevertheless kept Powell close, bringing her to the White House -- even after her apparent ouster from his legal team -- on multiple occasions to help offer strategic advice. In late December, Axios reported that among Trump aides, there was a "consensus" that the then-president was "listening to Sidney Powell more than just about anyone who is on his payroll, certainly more than his own White House Counsel."
Obviously, Powell's radical ideas failed to gain traction in the courts and Team Trump's legal team unraveled. That said, that did not end the drama: her crackpot conspiracy theories involving Dominion voting machines were not well received by the company or its attorneys, who filed a defamation lawsuit.
It was yesterday when Powell's lawyers responded that "reasonable people" would not have accepted her wild accusations "as fact," but rather, would be seen as "claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process."
In other words, according to this argument, Powell didn't defame Dominion since her claims -- which she encouraged the public to believe at the time -- were so plainly outlandish that people wouldn't have accepted them as true.
Regrettably, many people did, in fact, believe the bonkers conspiracy theories. From NBC News' report:
Powell's claims are at odds with the nation's post-election reality: Republican lawmakers across the country now say that so many questions were raised about the accuracy of the 2020 election that they need to pass restrictive voting laws to reinstill trust. There are hundreds of restrictive election bills being considered in 43 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Some appear to refer to conspiracy theories advanced by Trump's attorneys. In Texas, one proposed bill requires the state use U.S.-made voting systems.
Complicating matters, while Powell's lawyers argued yesterday that "reasonable people" would not have accepted her wild accusations "as fact," the same court filing added that Powell "believed the allegations then and she believes them now."
Watch this space.