Former White House lawyer calls for charging Sidney Powell with criminal fraud
Sidney Powell Screen capture

In a column for MSNBC, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration laid out the case to charge former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell with criminal fraud charges for bilking followers out of millions to investigate the 2020 election.

Richard Painter, a Republican who was a major critic of Donald Trump, suggests that Powell -- who is already facing a massive defamation lawsuit filed against her by Dominion Voting Systems -- should also be indicted on criminal charges.

According to the ethics specialist, Powell "did very well for herself" by raking in $14 million for her "Defending the Republic nonprofit group using baseless claims about 'fraud' in that election."

According to Painter, there are limits to free speech and Powell has crossed over into criminality.

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Pointing out that "Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the financial records of Defending the Republic and a related political action committee," Painter wrote, "... spreading fake news to ask for money is commercial speech, and courts enforce laws criminalizing fraud. While Powell may argue that she believed her claims, there is no First Amendment right to lie to people to get their money."

Explaining that "Lies that people get away with in politics can result in indictments in the charitable fundraising world," Painter continued, "Telling someone that Trump won the 2020 election, or that there was enough 'election fraud' to flip the results, were false statements, and Powell almost certainly knew as much. The fact that she raised millions making such false statements makes it that much worse — and we still don’t know what happened with the money."

He added, "...there are legal limits to lying, even in politics. Lying about nonexistent election fraud to a turbulent crowd ahead of their storming the Capitol and threatening to kill the vice president is incitement of insurrection, which can be criminal. Likewise, lying about demonstrable facts concerning an election that is already over to get people to send you money which cannot possibly be used to change the election result should be prosecuted as fraud."

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