Sidney Powell, the conspiracy theorist lawyer hired by former President Donald Trump to assist in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was reportedly duped by a QAnon hoax involving ex-Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel and acted upon it, according to excerpts from ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl‘s new book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, that was published on Tuesday.

Karl writes that, in a nutshell, Powell became convinced that Haspel had been kidnapped in Germany while conducting a secret mission to recover a computer called Scytl that was purportedly connected to the election.

Powell fell for the hoax.

“The server, Powell claimed, contained evidence that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of votes had been switched using rigged voting machines. Powell believed Haspel had embarked on this secret mission to get the server and destroy the evidence – in other words, the CIA director was part of the conspiracy,” Karl explains. “They needed to get the server and force Haspel to confess.”


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Powell said on a phone call to Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Trump-appointed assistant secretary of defense in intelligence at the Pentagon whom she requested come to Haspel’s rescue, that “Gina Haspel has been hurt and taken into custody in Germany. You need to launch a special operations mission to get her,” Powell instructed to Cohen-Watnick.

Afterward, Powell sent an email to Cohen-Watnick asking him to help her obtain a “letter of marque,” an obscure provision in the United States Constitution that grants Congress the authority to deputize private armed ships to engage in battle against enemy vessels in times of war. Notably, no such edicts have been issued since the War of 1812.

But Powell’s allegation – and how she somehow obtained the phone number to Cohen-Watkins’ secure office line – apparently spooked Cohen-Watnick so much that he reported it to then-Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

A CIA spokesperson eventually issued a statement regarding the director’s status.

“I’m happy to tell you that Director Haspel is alive and well and at the office,” the statement said.

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