Trump Is Spared Wisconsin’s Demand for Legal Fees in Vote Case
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump beat back efforts by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and other officials who wanted the ex-president to pay legal fees racked up defending his failed lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election result.
The court lacks jurisdiction over the dispute because the swing state, along with Milwaukee County officials and the mayors of Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay, waited too long to seek legal fees and sanctions against Trump’s lawyers, U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig in Milwaukee ruled Monday.
Ludwig, a Trump appointee, said the flaws in Trump’s frequently shifting case were “not insignificant failings” and that perhaps the case “ought never to have been filed.” Even so, the judge said he wouldn’t have been swayed to award fees even if he did have jurisdiction.
“Ready, fire, aim is not the preferred approach when litigating constitutional claims in federal court,” Ludwig said. “Nevertheless, in the overall context of this case, the court is unable to conclude that counsel’s conduct multiplied these proceedings in an objectively unreasonable and vexatious manner sufficient to warrant a fee award.”
The clash is part of the legal fallout from dozens of failed lawsuits by Trump and his supporters alleging his loss to President Joe Biden was the result of massive voter fraud. Earlier this month, former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell and other lawyers who sued to overturn the election result in Michigan were ordered to pay the state and the city of Detroit $175,250 for abusing the legal system with unfounded conspiracy theories.
The governor’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Evers, a Democrat, argued in August that Trump should personally have to pay at least a portion of Wisconsin’s legal fees for filing the failed lawsuit -- not just his lawyers.
“These decisions have made clear that the conduct of Trump and his counsel here crossed the line,” Evers said in a court filing at the time, making a last-ditch argument to reimburse taxpayers.
Trump’s lawyer in the case, William Bock, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
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