There was a time when Sidney Powell, the former Donald Trump attorney, welcomed a confrontation with Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology firm demonized by the Trumpist right. But when the moment came for her to be served with a defamation lawsuit, Powell wouldn’t even get out of her car.
On January 28, following Dominion’s prolonged hunt for her “across state lines,” the process server finally caught up to Powell at her home in Biltmore Forest, North Carolina. Dominion has sued major Trumpworld figures Powell and Rudy Giuliani for their false, Trump-backed claims that the voting-tech company was part of a massive conspiracy to rig the election for current Democratic President Joe Biden. Powell helped spearhead some of Trump’s most extremist efforts, and most absurd conspiracy-theory-fueled fantasies, for nullifying Biden’s 2020 victory. Dominion has also sent legal threats to various MAGA allies in the former president’s media and social orbits, leading to a wave of retractions. But in Powell’s case, the former Trump lawyer proved particularly difficult to track down.
On that evening of January 28, the assigned process server spotted Powell and her small entourage pulling into the driveway and arriving back at the North Carolina residence. But as the process server was trying to get a bead on Powell, the cops were already on their way. Someone—it’s unclear who—had called the police.
What ensued was a bizarre, 15-minute back-and-forth, with the cops, Powell and co., and the process server all gathered on the driveway. At one point, an associate of Powell’s seemingly tried to block the server from doing their job, with the Trump-aligned lawyer refusing to be personally served.
“It was weird as shit,” one of the people familiar with the matter said. “Sidney Powell is a lawyer, she knows how this works… Just because you don’t acknowledge the process server’s existence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
This account is based on three sources with knowledge of the matter. A Dominion spokesman did not provide comment on this story as of Thursday afternoon.
One of Powell’s male associates got out of his car and tried to intercept the process server, repeatedly accusing the server of trespassing on private property, and asking this person to leave immediately. When the server made their way to Powell’s vehicle, the MAGA lawyer wouldn’t step out of the car and did not verbally respond or acknowledge anything the server said through the car window. The server attempted to give Powell a box full of legal documents—totaling approximately 2,000 pages—and started pulling out specific pages to show the former Trump and Mike Flynn attorney through the window, so she would understand what was happening.
Powell just sat there, unwilling to play ball.
The server subsequently left the box near the driver’s side of Powell’s vehicle before departing. The server’s conversation with the police ended up being cordial, with the cops finding nothing untoward.
Returns of service filed in the case show that two Biltmore Forest police officers witnessed the service alongside "an unidentified male companion of Sidney Powell.”
In an email to The Daily Beast, Powell’s attorney Howard Kleinhendler insisted his client has not been evading service, but instead simply traveling for work.
“On the evening in question, at about 9:30 pm, there was a strange vehicle parked on a private street,” Kleinhendler wrote. “Unfortunately, for the past several months Ms. Powell has had to take extra precautions concerning her security. She was therefore not in a position to approach a stranger, at night, in an unfamiliar vehicle.”
Kleinhendler, who signed on as an attorney in Powell’s so-called “Kraken” lawsuits in Georgia and Wisconsin during the Trump-Biden transition, joined Powell’s defense team in the defamation case this week. He says his client didn’t call the police but speculated that “the area is regularly patrolled by security who was likely alerted to the suspicious vehicle.”
Biltmore Forest Police Chief Chris Beddingfield told The Daily Beast in a phone call that police were called by a third party not involved in the matter that brought officers to Powell’s home that evening. "We responded to that as a suspicious vehicle call and found that it was in fact a process server and that was the end of our involvement,” he said.
The wrangling over what would ordinarily be routine administrative matters points to a heated legal battle to come in the $1.3 billion suit. Powell’s case is one of two lawsuits filed by Dominion as the company has sought to restore its reputation following a campaign of outlandish smears by Trump and his prominent allies. Even after Powell was ejected from Trump’s official post-election legal team in November for being too extreme, she remained in direct contact with Trump, influencing his anti-democratic moves during the presidential transition that culminated in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In addition to Powell, Dominion also filed a similar $1.3 billion suit against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and preservation notices sent to conservative media outlets like OANN, Newsmax, and The Epoch Times suggest that more lawsuits from Dominion could be forthcoming.
But the help that Powell has since enlisted to fight off potential legal and financial devastation from Dominion was, much like Powell herself, involved in the broader, unsuccessful operation to try to steal the 2020 presidential election for Trump.
Attorney Larry Joseph, who has played a key role in some of former President Trump’s most important legal battles, is representing Powell in the suit against her, according to a notice of appearance filed on February 4.
As The New York Times first reported late last month, Joseph was part of a team of lawyers close to the Trump campaign—including former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin—who drafted a Supreme Court brief to demand the court block Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from casting electoral votes for Joe Biden.
According to the Times, the legal team handed off the brief to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to file in order to expedite its appearance before the court. Joseph’s name appears on the brief as a “Special Counsel to the Attorney General of Texas”—an uncompensated role Paxton gave Joseph shortly before Texas filed its case. Then-President Trump, via his attorney (and Kamala Harris birther) John Eastman, would subsequently ask the Supreme Court to let him intervene in the suit.
Joseph also filed an amicus brief on behalf of Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, a conservative activist nonprofit founded by Phyllis Schlafly, which urged the Supreme Court to throw out House Democrats' subpoenas for Trump's tax returns.
Jesse Binnall, a former Trump campaign attorney also involved in the attempts to overturn the 2020 election in court, is representing Defending the Republic, a nonprofit named as a defendant in the suit alongside Powell. Powell formed Defending the Republic alongside Lin Wood in early December in order to support the so-called “Kraken” lawsuits—suits, separate from the Texas Supreme Court suit, which demanded officials in battleground states throw out election results based on a variety of bizarre conspiracy theories.
Binnall appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee in December and claimed that 42,000 people in the state voted more than once—a claim that experts have since debunked.