Voting machine hacking plot figures into Trump indictment

Attorney Sidney Powell was indicted by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury Monday over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Attorney Sidney Powell was indicted by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury Monday over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The Washington Post / GETTY IMAGES

A plot allegedly hatched by lawyer Sidney Powell to use stolen data to rewrite the results of the Georgia vote in the 2020 election is a key piece of the fourth indictment of former President Donald Trump.

The plot to reverse the results of the 2020 Georgia vote included an effort to leverage breached voter data, according to the indictment of former President Donald Trump handed down yesterday by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury.

Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who gained wide notoriety for her efforts to bring conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems to public attention, was named "special counsel" on the heels of a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting with Trump, advisor Rudy Giuliani and others with "broad authority to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere."

In a May 2022 deposition before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Powell indicated that Trump, Giuliani and others discussed the possibility of issuing an executive order and presidential findings to permit the federal seizure of voting machines.

By the time of this meeting, Powell had already tapped Atlanta-based forensic data services provider SullivanStrickler to analyze voting equipment. Powell, who was indicted for multiple violations of Georgia law, allegedly set in motion a scheme to breach election equipment in Georgia's rural and heavily Republican Coffee County. 

According to reporting from CNN, the Coffee County machines were mentioned in orders drafted to allow for the seizure of voting equipment.

When the plot to steal data from election equipment in Coffee County first came to light, Georgia authorities sought help from the FBI in collecting evidence and exploring possible links between that breach and similar breaches in Michigan and Nevada.

On Jan. 7, 2021, a day after the vote certification at the U.S. Capitol was brought to a halt when rioters stormed the building, Powell and several named associates are alleged to have unlawfully tampered with voting equipment. One of these, Misty Hampton, is a former elections supervisor in Coffee County whose video alleging that Dominion voting machines could be easily tampered with attracted wide public attention in 2020. 

According to news reports, Hampton facilitated access to Coffee County election equipment, but told reporters that she did not observe any tampering. However, Hampton's facilitation of access to non-public areas of county elections offices is characterized in the indictment as an "overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy" to overturn the election.

Four unindicted co-conspirators are also alleged to have had a hand in the work of downloading stolen voter data files from a server maintained by SullivanStrickler. Activity on the breached voter data is alleged to have gone on well after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. In late April 2021, an unindicted co-conspirator is alleged to have emailed SullivanStrickler’s chief operations officer ordering him to send the Coffee County data to an attorney linked to Powell. 

Additionally, Powell is alleged to have misrepresented her role in the Coffee County plot in her sworn deposition made to the House Select Committee probing the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump and his closest advisors, including Giuliani and former chief of staff Mark Meadows, are not charged with any hacking or computer violations in the Fulton County indictment.