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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Courts

James Troupis

On Monday morning, two of Wisconsin’s presidential electors and a voter sued a group of “fake electors” who sought to deceive Congress in an attempt to help then-President Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The lawsuit, a first of its kind, was filed in state circuit court in Madison, the state’s capital, and named as defendants 10 Republicans and two others "who conspired with, aided, and abetted them," according to CBS News.

The two, according to the New York Times, are James R. Troupis, a Trump campaign lawyer, and Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney from Massachusetts who authored a memo in 2020 that proposed the fake elector scheme to Troupis.

Law Forward and Georgetown Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) sued the sham electors on behalf of the legitimate electors.

The plaintiffs are asking a Dane County judge to ban the Republicans from serving as electors in the future and order each of them to pay a $2,000 fine and up to $200,000 in damages to the Democratic electors.

“I don’t know that you can put a price on trying to steal democracy,” said Khary Penebaker, one of the plaintiffs and a Wisconsin Democratic National Committee member. “There has to be some kind of penalty. It has to be something. There has to be pure accountability for this. We cannot have this happen again.”

Wisconsin is one of seven states Trump lost in the last election where allies brought fought a slate of fake electors to cast electoral votes for him, anyway, to subvert the 2020 elections.

In the lawsuit, the defendants were accused of helping to “lay the foundation for a nationwide scheme to override the results of the 2020 election” and “the groundwork for the events of January 6, 2021.”

"They did so even though they knew that Biden and Harris had won the election in Wisconsin; even though those results had been recounted and certified; and even though Trump and Pence had exhausted all available legal mechanisms for challenging the outcome," the lawsuit alleged, according to CBS News.

“Although Defendants were unsuccessful in having their fake ballots counted, they caused significant harm simply by trying, and there is every reason to believe that they will try again if given the opportunity,” the lawsuit read, according to the Guardian. “Defendants’ actions also violated a host of state and federal laws. Thus far, however, none of the fraudulent electors has been held accountable. This lawsuit seeks to change that.”

None of the defendants in the lawsuit face criminal charges for their attempt to overturn the last election. Still, of the 84 sham GOP electors in the seven states that Trump lost to face civic penalties, the Wisconsin group is the first to face civic penalties.

In January, Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General, Dana Nessel, announced she had asked federal prosecutors to launch an investigation into 16 Republicans in the state who presented themselves as lawful electors and sought to cast electoral votes for Trump in a state Joe Biden won.

A week later, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Lisa O. Monaco, told CNN that the Department of Justice was looking into the battleground states’ fake electors who falsely declared Trump victorious, despite Biden winning all states by a narrow margin.

Many of the fake electors have been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee, the congressional panel investigating the Capitol riot. Among the list is Robert F. Spindell Jr., a Republican and member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, who tried to get Trump elected in Wisconsin, a state he lost by over 20,000 votes.

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Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer-turned-critic, testified for four hours on Monday that his former boss lied under oath and did, in fact, urge his security detail to assault peaceful protesters outside Trump Tower in September 2015.

Lawyers grilled Cohen during an acrimonious deposition about his assertions that Trump engineered an altercation outside his building on Fifth Avenue when he instructed his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to “get rid” of demonstrators of Mexican descent holding “Make America Racist Again” cardboard signs.

Cohen, during his deposition, told lawyers that Trump had said, “Get rid of them!” The former fixer alleged he was in the room when then-President Trump ordered his corporate security goons to attack a group of protesters decrying the president’s derogatory remarks about Mexicans.

Security videotapes from Trump’s company building that could easily verify Cohen’s claims mysteriously disappeared, and the plaintiffs received just one surveillance tape, which showed Schiller marching down the lobby to fight the protesters, according to the Daily Beast.

Trump and his company have denied these allegations. In an October 2021 deposition, Trump testified under oath that he didn’t unleash his security on the protesters, or direct them to grab the signs.

Those protesters have sued Trump and his company for “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries” by Trump’s security team. According to the Daily Beast, the testimony of Cohen, a surprise witness in the lawsuit, could prove crucial in the legal squabble.

"Mr. Cohen is an eyewitness to events taking place in the Trump Organization offices and to Defendant Trump's directive to his private security personnel to 'get rid' of' [the protesters] on September 3, 2015," Benjamin Dictor, the protesters' lawyer, wrote in a court filing

After leaving the law offices across from Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, Cohen told NBC News, “They asked me questions, and I answered them honestly and truthfully, and the truth does not benefit Donald.” Cohen’s deposition was taped in the presence of attorneys for Trump and the protesters

When journalists from Insider asked Cohen if his or Trump’s testimony will prove truthful, the former lawyer replied, “Clearly, mine.”

Jurors in the case will watch videos of both Trump and Cohen’s testimony, as well as videos of the incident at issue.

“He said, ‘Get rid of them!’ Cohen told reporters outside the venue of his deposition. “I’m shocked he let this case go as far as it did.”

Trump testified that he “didn’t know about” the violent interaction between Schiller and the protesters until the day after the incident, according to a released excerpt of the former president’s deposition, reported NBC News.

In the excerpts, when Trump was asked about his 2016 comment to “knock the crap” out of hecklers, the former president went on a bizarre tangent about his fear that people would throw fruit at him.

“Oh yeah. It was very dangerous,” Trump said. “They were going to throw fruit.”

He added, “We were told. I thought Secret Service was involved in that, actually. But we were told. And you get hit with fruit, it’s – no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that.”

“I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than – tomatoes are bad, by the way. But it’s very dangerous,” Trump said, according to the released transcript.

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, assured reporters that “enough courts have spoken on [Trump’s] credibility.”

Habba assailed Cohen, saying “I think it’s ironic he’s come out of the woodwork a couple of weeks before trial,” she said. “And the truth will come out. I actually look forward to spending a few hours questioning Mr. Cohen.”