December 31, 2021 / by emptywheel


Clue: It Was Sidney Powell with the Grifting, in Advance of the Pardon, on Lin Wood’s Plantation

In a post on the significance of the news that the DC US Attorney Office is investigating Sidney Powell’s grift, I noted that she started fundraising to perpetuate false claims about a stolen election — on November 23, 2020 — before she received a thing of value from Trump — a pardon for Mike Flynn — and before she had set up the legal vehicle to do that grifting.

I’m interested in it for a different reason: the way in which Trump named Powell as part of his team, then cut her off, and then pardoned her client and co-grifter, Mike Flynn. Only after that did she formally register the grift.

I wonder whether some smart lawyer grew concerned that Sidney Powell was claiming to represent the President even while she was representing someone asking for a pardon.

On November 15, Trump explicitly named Powell as part of his team. On November 20, Powell appeared at Rudy the Dripper’s press conference. On November 22, Rudy and Jenna Ellis made a show of cutting ties with her.

Sidney Powell is practice 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.

According to Maggie Haberman, either he didn’t like her appearance and/or advisors convinced Trump to separate himself from her nutjobbery. Three days later, November 25, Trump pardoned Powell’s client. The next day, after days of promising to Bring the Kraken, Powell finally started releasing her epically batshit suits. Trump has promoted them.


Indeed, it even appears some Administration lawyers are still associated with Powell’s efforts.

I’m not sure I understand whether there would be a conflict between Powell representing Trump (for free, inevitably, as all lawyers do), making desperate efforts to overturn the election at the same time she was trying to ensure her client did no prison time. If that’s a conflict, it may still exist anyway given Powell’s admission to Judge Sullivan that she had repeatedly discussed Flynn with Trump’s campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis. The fact that DOJ packaged up altered documents to support a Trump attack on Biden may make those ties more important anyway (or lead to more details about them becoming public).

But if Powell’s involvement made Pat Cipollone and/or Bill Barr — who presumably share the challenging task of helping Trump write pardons that don’t backfire — squeamish, it might explain the timing.

In other words, one of the things that may be of interest to this grand jury is why Sidney Powell started raising money before she had the legal vehicle to do so.

But that would also focus some attention on the fact that Sidney Powell started raising money to help sowing Trump’s conspiracy theories before Trump had pardoned her client (after she told Trump, in the summer, not to do so, yet, something she made clear in a hearing on September 29).

Sidney Powell started raising funds to support her efforts to undermine the election by November 23. On November 25, Trump gave her a thing of value — a pardon for her client. Only 5 days later did Powell make such fundraising legal.

This CNBC report adds a new wrinkle to this timeline: during this same period, Powell and Flynn and Patrick Byrne were at Lin Wood’s two plantations in South Carolina. They appear to have worked in Wood’s residence, Tomotley Plantation, and stayed in Cotton Hall, which he had just purchased.

Lin Wood, a conservative trial lawyer who led a failed legal challenge against the election results in Georgia, said in a lengthy interview that shortly after the 2020 contest last November, he hosted at his massive South Carolina properties fellow right-wing attorney Sidney Powell, former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, and Doug Logan, the CEO of cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas.

Jim Penrose, who says on his LinkedIn profile that he used to work for the National Security Agency, and Seth Keshel, who promotes himself on his Twitter page as a former Army captain and who has spread falsities about the election, according to the Associated Press, also made appearances at Wood’s properties, the attorney said.


“They set up in my living room and one of the sunrooms. They looked like election central. They had computers, whiteboards. They were working,” Wood said about Powell and her team’s prior work at his residence. Southern Living magazine describes the living room at Tomotley: “Custom built-ins and a working fireplace bring warmth to the spacious living room.”


But many of Powell’s fellow election conspiracy theorists took up residence for days at Wood’s nearby property called Cotton Hall, the veteran attorney explained. It too is considered a historic plantation in South Carolina, and it encompasses over 700 acres. The South Carolina plantations history website says its primary crop in the 19th century was rice.


Flynn, for instance, arrived at Tomotley with Byrne days after Powell arrived, Wood said. Though Byrne stayed at Cotton Hall for only a day, Flynn took up residence through Thanksgiving.

“Flynn was here on Thanksgiving because he carved the turkey when we ate over at Cotton Hall,” Wood said during the interview.

It’s unclear why Wood shared all these details. While this report cites the Daily Beast reporting that includes the news on the grand jury investigation, it presents that story instead in the context of the “feud” between Wood, Flynn, Byrne, and Powell. If they haven’t been already, those people would all be subpoenaed in the investigation, and so this might instead be an attempt to coordinate stories or convey what questions are being asked.

But what’s interesting about the timeline is that it seems to suggest that Trump or someone close to him would have called into the plotting on the plantation.

When you pardon someone, you call them or their representative to let them know. And while it’s not certain that Flynn had arrived at the plantation yet when he got the pardon on November 25, the day before he cut the turkey at Wood’s plantation on November 26, Powell had already been there some days before Flynn showed up, meaning — at least per this reporting — she was definitely at Lin Wood’s plantation plotting propaganda to help Trump stay in office on the day of the pardon.

This also adds the delicious detail that a guy who advertised that he had been honey-potted by a woman accused of spying for Russia may have been with Flynn when he received notice he was being rewarded for refusing to admit to Mueller’s team that Trump was involved in efforts to undercut sanctions on Russia in December 2016.

This all would read like a cheap spy novel if there weren’t an accused spy and a guy who admitted he had been secretly working for another frenemy state as well.

But even aside from Byrne’s presence, it sure adds interesting details to the circumstances of Flynn’s pardon that may be of interest to criminal investigators.

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