Election 2020

An Autopsy of Sidney Powell's 'Kraken' Reveals Suspiciously Similar Affidavits

Federal judges have been underwhelmed by the former Trump campaign lawyer's evidence of massive election fraud.


As part of her attempt to show that the presidential election was stolen through an elaborate international conspiracy, former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell has submitted two affidavits from Venezuelans who purport to expose the roots of fraud-facilitating software that Powell claims switched Trump votes to Biden votes. Those affidavits include strikingly similar language that suggests they were written or edited by Powell or her colleagues rather than the affiants.

"I want to alert the public and let the world know the truth about the corruption, manipulation, and lies being committed by a conspiracy of people and companies intent upon betraying the honest people of the United States and their legally constituted institutions and fundamental rights as citizens," says a redacted affidavit from an unnamed individual who claims to have served on "the national security guard detail" for Venezuela's president. "This conspiracy began more than a decade ago in Venezuela and has spread to countries all over the world. It is a conspiracy to wrongfully gain and keep power and wealth. It involves political leaders, powerful companies, and other persons whose purpose is to gain and keep power by changing the free will of the people and subverting the proper course of governing."

An affidavit from Ana Mercedes Díaz Cardozo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who says she was "a career official for 25 years at the Supreme Electoral Council of Venezuela," includes a nearly identical passage. Díaz also describes herself as "an adult of the sound mine," while the anonymous Venezuelan affiant uses a similarly mistaken phrase, saying, "I am an adult of sound mine."

Dominion Voting Systems, one of the companies that Powell has implicated in the purported plot to steal the election, notes the similarities between the two Venezuelan affiants' descriptions of their motivations in a December 16 letter demanding that Powell retract her accusations and threatening a defamation lawsuit if she doesn't. Dominion says the fact that the two affiants used almost exactly the same language proves that "those witnesses did not each write their declarations independently" and strongly suggests that the "allegations of a decade-old international conspiracy were written or edited by you or your team—not by the witnesses themselves." The repetition of the "sound mine" error likewise suggests collaboration.

The Dominion letter also notes that another anonymous witness Powell has used in court, codenamed "Spyder" (sometimes "Spider") and identified by The Washington Post as Army veteran Joshua Merritt, has admitted he never worked in military intelligence, although Powell called him a "Military Intelligence expert" and his declaration described him as a former "electronic intelligence analyst under 305th Military Intelligence."

In an interview with the Post, Merritt blamed the erroneous information on Powell's "clerks," who he said wrote the relevant sentence. "That was one thing I was trying to backtrack on," he said. "My original paperwork that I sent in didn't say that."

Dominion notes several other striking errors in witness statements used by Powell. Navid Keshavarz-Nia, presented as a cybersecurity expert, famously placed "Edison County" in Michigan, where no such jurisdiction exists. Russell Ramsland, a cybersecurity analyst and former Republican congressional candidate, discussed locations in Minnesota while alleging fraud in Michigan. Ramsland also claimed that voter turnout in Detroit was an impossible 139 percent and that turnout in North Muskegon was an even more improbable 782 percent, which he presented as clear evidence of fraud. "In reality," Dominion says, "the turnout in those places was 50.88% and 78.11%, respectively."

Powell has submitted these statements, along with many others, as evidence in lawsuits challenging the election results in several states. Although Powell has likened her evidence to a "fire hose" and a Kraken, judges in those cases have been decidedly underwhelmed.

"Plaintiffs append over three hundred pages of attachments, which are only impressive for their volume," wrote Diane Humetewa, a federal judge in Arizona. "The various affidavits and expert reports are largely based on anonymous witnesses, hearsay, and irrelevant analysis of unrelated elections. Because the Complaint is grounded in these fraud allegations, the Complaint shall be dismissed."

In Michigan, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker said Powell offered "nothing but speculation and conjecture that votes for President Trump were destroyed, discarded or switched to votes for Vice President Biden." Parker observed that Powell's lawsuit "seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek—as much of that relief is beyond the power of this Court—and more about the impact of their allegations on People's faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government."

Powell filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin on behalf of William Feehan, a voter and potential presidential elector, and Derrick Van Orden, an unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate. But Van Orden said he never agreed to participate in the case, leaving only Feehan. While dismissing the lawsuit for lack of standing, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper marveled at the remedy sought by Powell, who argued that state officials should be ordered to decertify Wisconsin's election results. "Federal judges do not appoint the president in this country," Pepper wrote. "One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so."

Timothy Batten, a federal judge in Georgia, was similarly perplexed. "In their complaint, the plaintiffs essentially ask the court for perhaps the most extraordinary relief ever sought in any federal court in connection with an election," he said. "They want this court to substitute its judgment for that of 2.5 million Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden, and this I am unwilling to do."