Over the past few weeks, a once tight-knit clique of 2020 election deniers and former Donald Trump confidants has devolved into a maelstrom of backstabbing, increasingly wild allegations, infighting, and high school-grade melodrama. The main driver of this civil conflict within this group, which aided then-President Trump’s efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s decisive 2020 victory, has been the pro-Trump attorney and conspiracy theorist Lin Wood. Recently, the lawyer has been publicly posting details of private conversations and—of course—slinging baseless accusations of Satanism and pedophilia.
But one breakup within this crew of prominent, conspiracy-theory-peddling Trumpists that hasn’t gotten much attention is the chilling of the friendship between Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, a lawyer who had repped Flynn and also tried to subvert the 2020 presidential results on Trump’s behalf.
Not long ago, Powell was a hero to Flynn and to his family, and the two friends worked very closely in their joint mission to keep Trump in power against the will of the American voters. Now, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, the former Trump national security official and Powell are barely even on speaking terms.
This story was first reported on this week’s episode of The Daily Beast’s podcast, Fever Dreams. Listen below:
The falling-out, which both Flynn and Powell have declined to air publicly, began as early as April, barely three months into the Biden presidency. According to the knowledgeable sources, tensions between the two began simmering over large sums of money, including the amounts fundraised for Defending the Republic, an organization founded by Powell. The group’s stated purpose, as it was pitched to conservative grassroots donors, was to fund Powell’s notorious “Kraken” lawsuits targeting the 2020 election outcome, and according to Defending the Republic’s paperwork, its board initially featured Flynn, his brother Joe, and Wood.
It was in those early months of the Biden era that allegations began emerging that Defending the Republic’s war chest was getting drained by Powell—not to advance the organization’s pro-Trump agenda, but to offset Powell’s ever-ballooning legal expenses.
These allegations accelerated the deterioration of Powell’s close relationships with several of her comrades on the extreme Trumpist right, including Flynn himself, who privately expressed unease at the way the funds were being used, the sources said.
Still, ruined friendships may be the least of Powell’s woes right now. As The Daily Beast reported last week, Powell and Defending the Republic have more recently attracted the attention of federal investigators, who have been busy probing the far-right organization’s finances.
Powell and a Flynn rep did not respond to requests for comment on this story on Tuesday.
Elsewhere on this week’s Fever Dreams episode, writer and “Know Your Enemy” podcast co-host Sam Adler-Bell talks about his article in The New Republic on the “New Right” and upstart young conservative intellectuals talking about “counterrevolution.” And Sommer and Suebsaeng talk about a neo-Nazi group marching in Washington, D.C., and discuss former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ disastrous book tour.