Trump’s Effort to ‘Hijack’ Wisconsin Election Could Cost Him
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump should be ordered to pay Wisconsin $145,000 to cover the legal expenses the state racked up defending against the former president’s “haphazard” election-fraud lawsuit, the state told a judge.
Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the state’s 3.3 million voters was so weak and time-consuming that he and his lawyers should both be punished for squandering taxpayer resources, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a filing Wednesday in federal court in Milwaukee.
Evers also filed a motion in a separate case seeking $106,000 in fees from former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, whose suit alleging voter fraud in the state included wild claims about corrupt Democratic election workers, hacked voting machines and foreign agents.
“There is no reason for Wisconsin taxpayers to bear the cost of this attempt to hijack the democratic process,” Evers said in the filing.
The suits were among more than 60 unsuccessful cases brought by Trump and his allies trying to overturn election results in battleground states like Wisconsin, which narrowly went for Joe Biden. A federal appeals court affirmed the rejection of Trump’s Wisconsin case, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review. The false claims ultimately helped trigger a deadly assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.
“We completely disagree with the allegations and we’ll be responding in due course,” Trump’s lawyer in the case, William Brock, said in a phone call.
“The case is long closed,” Powell said in an email. “The motion is baseless, improper and a waste of taxpayer and judicial resources.”
Evers, a Democrat, also asked the judge to issue additional punitive sanctions against Trump and Powell to discourage future litigation that aims to challenge election results without proper legal claims to do so.
“From the moment they filed this lawsuit until the Supreme Court denied review, Trump and his attorneys litigated in bad faith,” Evers’s lawyer, Jeffrey Mandell, said in the filing.
Trump’s 70-page lawsuit was doomed from the beginning, the state said, because it “did not clearly identify any cognizable cause of action” and “did not enumerate the essential elements of any legal claim much less attempt to meet those elements.”
Even after the state flagged the deficiencies to Trump, the president’s attorneys failed to amend the complaint and instead “repeatedly announced different formulations of the relief he was seeking, all of which suffered from significant constitutional and logical flaws,” according to the filing.
“Trump and his attorneys were either reckless or extremely negligent at every step of this litigation,” Evers said.
The case brought by Powell was even more colorful. The Texas-based lawyer, who made regular appearances on conservative news outlets to spread her theory, alleged without evidence that Democrats conspired to use voting software that was tainted by the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. She lost all the cases she brought and now faces a $1.3 billion defamation suit from voting-machine maker Dominion Voting Systems Inc.
Evers argues Powell should reimburse the state because she recklessly based her case on anonymous witness statements that lacked credibility and wasted the court’s time in a variety of other ways. The court should find Powell filed her suit “in bad faith, thereby abusing the judicial system,” Wisconsin said.
Powell “filed this lawsuit without the support of credible, relevant, or remotely admissible evidence,” the state said. “Rather, the claims were supported by unreliable fact witnesses, hearsay, and extreme partisans misrepresented as experts.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.