Former Overstock CEO and Trump supporter Patrick Byrne said this on Tuesday, regarding his White House meeting with President Trump:

I saw Cippolone, the [White House] general counsel, say something like “You don’t even need me, you can just do this verbally. If you really want to appoint Sidney Powell special counsel, you can just say it.” And after fifteen more minutes of arguing, President Trump said ... “You know what? I’ve made my decision. Sidney Powell, you’re appointed White House special counsel.” And somebody objected “She needs a clearance, and that’s going to take X many this and that...” And President Trump said, “You know what? I have the ability to give a clearance with my word. I hereby give you a TS-SCI clearance. This is done, this decision is done, we’re going.”

For those who don’t know, Sidney Powell is a pro-Trump lawyer who has filed lawsuits baselessly alleging widespread fraud in the 2020 US Presidential Election. The Washington Post had reported that President Trump was considering appointing Sidney Powell as a special counsel to investigate claims of election fraud, and President Trump has tweeted publicly that a special counsel should be appointed.

But my question is, is Byrne right that Trump said verbally that he was appointing Sidney Powell as special counsel?


2 Answers 2


There is no such thing as a White House Special Counsel so she might one but it has no meaning. He can unilaterally approve security clearances but it might need to be in writing.

It is the prerogative of the Attorney General to appoint real special counsels.

§ 600.1 Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel . . .

  • Regardless, my question is about whether Trump verbally said he was appointing Sidney Powell special counsel, so this doesn’t answer my question. Dec 24, 2020 at 18:57
  • So you need to know if anyone else present corroborates the story? Dec 24, 2020 at 19:16
  • Yeah, that would make for a good answer. Dec 24, 2020 at 19:17
  • 2
    This is a good answer, even if the question was about what Trump actually said. Because anybody reading it needs to be aware that what Trump says doesn't matter. However it does need some references. Dec 24, 2020 at 19:26

It is hard to be certain about any of this since it involves leaks to the press, but Trump eventually did not give Powell any title (whether or not that would have come with any actual powers). As Business Insider reported on Wednesday, Dec 23:

At a meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, Trump had aired the idea of naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate election fraud, according to The New York Times.

The idea, however, did not sit well with White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's longtime personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, The Times said.

Powell was also present at the "raucous" meeting, The Times said, and was accompanied by Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Amid opposition to her appointment, Powell reportedly called Trump's aides "quitters."

However, Trump told Powell on Monday that he would not be making her special counsel, The Daily Beast reported.

It is not clear how the decision was made. [...]

Giuliani confirmed the decision on Tuesday, telling The Daily Beast: "She is on her own."

On Tuesday, Powell told Fox News that she had been barred from interacting with Trump, according to Forbes.

(Business Insider is not the greatest thing in journalism, but it seems to have the most recent piece on this I could find.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .