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Trump lawyers face tough questions over ridiculous election suit

Pro-Trump lawyers who filed a ridiculous case in Michigan in December are facing the very real possibility of court sanctions.


In the aftermath of Donald Trump's 2020 defeat, his allied lawyers filed all kinds of strange lawsuits, including one in Michigan that peddled a variety of absurdities. A judge concluded in December that the case was based on nothing but "speculation and conjecture," at which point the far-right litigants voluntarily agreed to withdraw the suit.

That was not, however, the final word on the subject. Sure, President Joe Biden won, thanks in part to his victory in Michigan, and sure, the embarrassingly dumb litigation went away. But what about possible consequences for those who thought it'd be a good idea to waste everyone's time with such a transparently baseless case?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) administration and the city of Detroit are currently seeking penalties against nine relevant attorneys -- a group that includes Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood -- arguing in a court filing that the December litigation wasn't just wrong on the merits, it was also filed "for an improper purpose."

The filing added that case "was never about winning on the merits of the claims, but rather, plaintiffs' purpose was to undermine the integrity of the election results and the people's trust in the electoral process and in government. The filing of litigation for that purpose is clearly an abuse of the judicial process and warrants the imposition of sanctions."

The matter went before a judge yesterday. For the anti-election crowd, the proceedings did not appear to go especially well.

A federal judge is considering whether to order financial penalties or other sanctions against some of former President Donald Trump's lawyers who signed onto a lawsuit last year challenging Michigan's election results. U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit held a six-hour hearing Monday by video conference. She said she plans to make a decision about sanctions at a later date.

Among the possible sanctions are disbarment for the lawyers responsible for filing bogus anti-election cases.

With this in mind, Wood furiously insisted that he had "absolutely no role" in the drafting of the ridiculous complaint, despite his name appearing on the documents, and other defendants yesterday also tried to distance themselves from the case, rather than trying to defend it.

It's too soon to say with confidence how U.S. District Judge Linda Parker will rule, but she did not appear overly impressed yesterday with the defense from the pro-Trump lawyers. "There's a duty that counsel has that when you're submitting a sworn statement ... that you have reviewed it, that you had done some minimal due diligence."

At another point, Parker marveled at an affidavit filed by the pro-Trump lawyers that appeared to be based almost entirely on baseless speculation. "I don't think I've really ever seen an affidavit that has made so many leaps," she said yesterday. "This is really fantastical. My question to counsel here is, how could any of you as officers of the court present this type of an affidavit?"

In another instance, there was an affidavit in which a Michigan woman said she "believed" some election workers in Detroit had changed votes. The judge asked yesterday whether any of the attorneys actually asked this woman what she'd seen before filing the affidavit. When there was no response, Parker added, "Let the record reflect that no one made the inquiry."

For her part, Sidney Powell made the argument the process of collecting highly dubious affidavits "shows due diligence." To which the judge replied, "Volume, certainly for this court, doesn't equate with legitimacy or veracity."

The prospects for accountability for these lawyers, who used the legal system to peddle a lie, appears quite real.