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Tag: gretchen whitmer

Michigan Judge Refers Trump’s 'Kraken' Lawyers For Disbarment

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Federal Judge Linda Parker on Wednesday referred a group of pro-Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, for potential suspension and disbarment for their misconduct in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 win in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with other defendants in the original lawsuit, has asked the judge to consider sanctions after the pro-Trump lawyers had their claims of election fraud demolished.

In the new ruling, Parker issued a 110-page opinion condemning the team's "historic and profound abuse of the judicial process," finding that their behavior in the case warrants formal sanction by the courts. They will have to pay for Michigan and Detroit's legal costs and attend classes about the law relevant to the case, the judge ruled. And she will also be referring their cases to the authorities who issued the lawyers' licenses, which may take further punitive action against them.

Such harsh sanctions are rare in the legal world and highlight the extreme nature of the pro-Trump lawyers' conduct.

Parker was direct and unsparing in her condemnation of their actions.

"[T]he question before the Court is whether Plaintiffs' attorneys engaged in litigation practices that are abusive and, in turn, sanctionable. The short answer is yes," she wrote. "The attorneys who filed the instant lawsuit abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion); proffering factual allegations and claims without engaging in the required prefiling inquiry; and dragging out these proceedings even after they acknowledged that it was too late to attain the relief sought."

She continued:

And this case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.
While there are many arenas—including print, television, and social media—where protestations, conjecture, and speculation may be advanced, such expressions are neither permitted nor welcomed in a court of law. And while we as a country pride ourselves on the freedoms embodied within the First Amendment, it is well-established that an attorney's freedom of speech is circumscribed upon "entering" the courtroom.

The lawyers "scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way," she said.

Essentially, she argued that Powell, Wood, and the others used the case in Michigan to propagate the notion that Trump had been the true winner of the 2020 election, even though they had no reasonable case to bring. Their aim wasn't, she concluded, to make good faith arguments about the facts and the law in hope of being vindicated in a court of law. Instead, they were using the courts as a platform for propaganda without regard for the merits of their legal arguments. In short, it was a flagrant abuse of the system.

She even drew a connection between the lawyers' misconduct and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Much of the opinion details how the attorneys, such as Wood, have been blatantly dishonest with the court, and why their arguments were frivolous and illegitimate on numerous grounds. For example, they sought to have Whitmer barred from sending the results of Michigan's election to the Electoral College, even though she had already done so. They cited precedents for their arguments that had no relevance or made the opposite point to what they were trying to push. They made baseless claims that legal acts were against the law. At other points, they completely reversed themselves on crucial issues, such as key deadlines in the case, without explanation or justification.

"It is not lost upon the Court that the same claims and requested relief that Plaintiffs' attorneys presented here were disposed of, for many of the same reasons, in Michigan courts and by judges in several other 'battleground' jurisdictions where Plaintiffs' counsel sought to overturn the election results," Parker wrote. "The fact that no federal district court considering the issues at bar has found them worthy of moving forward supports the conclusion that Plaintiffs' claims are frivolous."

The extent of the blatant deception and arguments clearly made in bad faith can only lead to one conclusion.

Parker explained: "Once it appeared that their preferred political candidate's grasp on the presidency was slipping away, Plaintiffs' counsel helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism—and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences). Plaintiffs' counsel's politically motivated accusations, allegations, and gamesmanship may be protected by the First Amendment when posted on Twitter, shared on Telegram, or repeated on television. The nation's courts, however, are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action."

In short, her conclusion was simple: "This lawsuit should never have been filed."

‘Vitriolic Threats’ As Michigan GOP Debates Demand For 2020 Election Audit

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On October 8, 2020, it was obvious how severe political tensions had become in Michigan when the FBI announced that 13 men had been arrested in connection with a domestic terrorist plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, subject her to a "trial," and execute her if found guilty. Those behind the kidnapping plot were angry over the restrictions she had imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the political climate in that midwestern state hasn't grown any less tense since then. Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger, in an article published on June 23, describes the tensions that continue to rock Michigan five months into Joe Biden's presidency.

"As Michigan State Rep. Donna Lasinski got out of her car at the state Capitol in Lansing on a sunny morning last week," Hamburger reports, "she was greeted by two people carrying what she described as assault rifles while protesters outside the building called for an audit of the 2020 election. Such disconcerting encounters are not uncommon in Lansing — a reflection of persistent and growing tension gripping Michigan eight months after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump."

Michigan was among the five states that Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020; the others were Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia. But Trump and many of his sycophants have continued to make the false and totally debunked claim that Trump really won Michigan and that he was the victim of widespread voter fraud. And with Trump supporters calling for Michigan to have an "audit" of the 2020 election not unlike the Cyber Ninjas farce presently taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona, that only adds to the tensions in the Wolverine State.

"Attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election have persisted in this state, where local county officials are contending with demands by some residents to review ballots for possible fraud," Hamburger explains. "The mounting calls by Trump supporters to revisit the election results are creating a thorny dilemma for the (Michigan) Republican Party, which has sought to fend off those efforts, even as GOP officials seek changes to election law."

Hamburger observes that on June 23, a GOP-controlled committee in the Michigan State Senate "issued a report forcefully rejecting the claims of widespread fraud in the state, saying citizens should be confident in the results and skeptical of 'those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.'" But last week, according to Hamburger, "A few hundred demonstrators carrying boxes of affidavits signed by thousands of people demanding a state ballot audit showed up at the (Michigan) Capitol."

"On (June 22), a GOP legislator introduced a bill to start the audit process, although it so far does not have support among other lawmakers," Hamburger observes. "The drumbeat for audits has been accompanied by increasingly violent and vitriolic threats against state and local officials. The escalating rhetoric has left legislators from both parties lamenting what happened to the state that was home to moderate political consensus builders such as President Gerald Ford, Gov. George Romney and the late Rep. John Dingell."

‘Domestic Terrorists’ In Whitmer Kidnap Plot May Face Life Sentences

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Federal prosecutors have been reluctant for decades to use references to "domestic terrorism" in their charges and filing papers in crimes involving right-wing extremists, but that appears to be changing now, in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The latest filings in the case involving the 14 militiamen who plotted last year to kidnap and murder Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer make that plain.

A superseding indictment from the grand jury in the case filed this week by the Justice Department—adding new charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, based on the men's plot to use a massive explosive charge to destroy a bridge near Whitmer's summer home—is quite clear: "The defendants engaged in domestic terrorism."

The same plotters—who called themselves the "Wolverine Watchmen"—had a much wider-ranging original plan, which included invading the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing with 200 armed militiamen, taking state officials hostage, and then holding televised executions. When they realized the logistics of such a plan were overwhelming, they reverted to the simpler plot to kidnap Whitmer.

This week's indictment focuses on four men—Adam Fox, 40, of Wyoming, Michigan; Barry Croft Jr., 45, of Bear, Delaware; Daniel Joseph Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; and Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland—who conducted surveillance and bought explosives in preparation for carrying off their kidnapping plans. They were charged with conspiracy—joining codefendants Kaleb Franks and Brandon Caserta, who already were indicted on that charge—while Harris and Croft had additional weapons charges added to their case.

Garbin entered a guilty plea in December 2020 to the original indictment charging him with conspiracy to kidnap the governor and now awaits sentencing; he is reportedly cooperating with investigators as part of the plea deal. He appears to have been a primary source of the information in the indictment, along with the federal informant who provided most of the original evidence.

The men had held their first paramilitary training exercise to prepare for their plan in July 2020 in Wisconsin. They attempted to detonate a couple of improvised bombs but failed. They continued building similar devices—which included a balloon filled with steel ball bearings. When the men gathered again in September for another session, they had greater success, setting off a couple of the bombs in the vicinity of silhouette targets shaped like humans, and were satisfied with the resulting damage caused by the shrapnel.

Preparing for that later session, Garbin in an encrypted text message to his fellow conspirators suggested "taking down a highway bridge near the governor's vacation home." After the training session, the men drove to Whitmer's summer home to conduct surveillance.

Along the way, Fox and Croft "stopped to inspect the underside of a highway bridge near the vacation home for a place to mount an explosive charge," the indictment said.

Afterward, the men ordered $4,000 worth of explosives from the FBI informant, who was posing as someone who was capable of providing the men with such materials. Fox, Franks, and Harris drove to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to make the down payment.

If convicted of kidnapping conspiracy, the five defendants face life sentences in prison, while the conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction also includes a maximum of life in prison.

Whitmer on Thursday told CNN that each gradual revelation of the plot's details is increasingly "disturbing."

"I'm incredibly grateful to the FBI and [Michigan State Police] and that gratitude only grows with more revelations about how serious and scary this group was. And how intent they were on not just harming me but harming our law enforcement, harming communities," Whitmer said on New Day. "The rhetoric has got to stop. We've got to all rise to this challenge and stop vilifying and encouraging these domestic extremists to hurt our fellow Americans."

Michigan Authorities Cite Sidney Powell’s Own Arguments In Disbarment Action

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sidney Powell's defense against a $1.3 billion lawsuit over her lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election could come back to bite her.

Powell, a lawyer who supported Donald Trump's claims of election fraud and filed multiple failed lawsuits across the country seeking to overturn the 2020 election, is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation after she falsely accused the company of conspiring with a dead Venezuelan dictator to rig the election against Trump.

Back in March, Powell argued that Dominion's lawsuit should be dismissed because "no reasonable person" would believe her lies about voting machine rigging.

Now, however, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is using Powell's defense in the Dominion lawsuit to support filings on February 1 made by Nessel, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson with the Attorney Grievance Commission in Michigan and the State Bar of Texas calling for Powell's disbarment.

Nessel is seeking sanctions against Powell and three other attorneys for filing frivolous lawsuits to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the Wolverine State, asking that they be stripped of their licenses to practice law and forced to repay legal fees incurred as a result of their suits.

"Faced with the specter of more than $1.3 billion in damages in the Dominion Action, Ms. Powell has adopted a new litigation strategy to evade Dominion's defamation claim: the truth. Whether that strategy will be advantageous in the Dominion Action remains to be seen, but it strongly underscores why sanctions and attorneys' fees are appropriate here," reads the brief Nessel filed in the sanctions cases, according to the website Law & Crime.

The brief continues, "If there were any doubts about counsel's mindset when filing this action, Ms. Powell has put them to rest. She and her co-counsel knew there was no reasonable basis for the statements they made in this litigation, but they made them anyway."

In seeking to defend herself against the sanctions Michigan is seeking, Powell had said in February that she shouldn't be disbarred because her allegations of fraud could be proved, the Detroit Free Press reported.

But that doesn't jibe with Powell's defense in the Dominion lawsuit, which claimed that "reasonable" people would not have believed her claims.

Nessel tweeted on Wednesday, "As lawyers, fidelity to the law is paramount and these attorneys seemingly made statements they knew were misleading in an effort to further conspiracy theories in an effort to erode public trust in government and dismantle our systems of democracy. Their actions are inexcusable."

Powell is one of a number of people Dominion has sued for the lie that the voting machine company rigged the election against Trump — a lie that was officially debunked in a joint Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security report in March. Dominion has also sued Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

‘From Body Armor To Panic Buttons’: Legislators Stock Up On Protective Gear

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Shortly after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, a state lawmaker asked the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance a compelling question: "Could campaign funds be used to purchase bulletproof vests, gas masks, and pepper spray?"

According to Politico, the unusual question underscores the main concerns many lawmakers have in wake of the heightened security threat the United States is currently facing. Now, many are reportedly making an effort to purchase more protective equipment.

The publication reports:

Alarmed by a growing number of threats, harassment, and scenes of violence at government buildings, lawmakers in both parties are seeking clarity from election agencies on whether they can spend campaign dollars and taxpayer money on security and personal protective equipment — everything from body armor to panic buttons at home.

Although the U.S. Capitol insurrection is now in America's past, there are still warnings of security threats for Washington, D.C., and state capitols, nationwide, as the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation work to combat. Lawmakers have also expressed concern about their well-being in light of the intense political climate.

In Michigan, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer found herself at the center of a kidnapping plot, lawmakers have inquired about the possibility of using campaign dollars for a number of protective items including a "home security system and ballistic vests to protect against an active shooter."

Michigan state Rep. Kevin Hertel (D) recently weighed in on the threats against lawmakers in his state. "Threats have an impact," said Hertel. "You can hear the fear in people's voices when they talk about these issues."

He added, "Protective gear became one of those necessary office expenditures," Hertel explained. "It became a cost of doing the job."

His inquiry is still pending as lawmakers in other states discuss similar grievances.

In January, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee sought advice from Federal Election Commission (FEC) on whether campaign funds could be used to employ bodyguards. More than 30 Congressional members asked, "if they could pay local law enforcement and buy security upgrades for their homes and offices out of their office allowances."

While provisions are being made for members of Congress to receive additional funding for more security, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) has expressed concern about another aspect that should be considered: how the security threats also impact lawmakers' families.

"Between January 6 and the massive increase in threats, you worry a lot about your family and your staff," said Gottheimer, who led the Congressional requests. "It's not just to protect you, it's to protect people near you."

As of March 20, many of the inquiries still remain unresolved as the Justice Department, FBI, FEC, and lawmakers work to reach some form of common ground on national security threats.

Confidential FBI Informant Testifies About Whitmer Kidnap Plot

JACKSON, Mich. — A confidential FBI informant is testifying Friday in a Jackson County courthouse about being embedded for months alongside leaders of a group accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The informant’s identity is being concealed in court for his safety. Introduced only as “Dan,” an online video feed of Friday's hearing was cut off during his testimony so court observers only could hear him. Dan described learning of the group — known as the Wolverine Watchmen — through a Facebook algorithm that he believed made the suggestion based on his interactions with o...

Michigan Militia Plot Involved Capitol Takeover, Televised ‘Executions’

The militiamen who plotted to kidnap and execute Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer saw their operation mainly as a backup plan for a much more ambitious "Plan A," prosecutors say. The plan was to assemble 200 armed "Patriots" who would take over the state Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and then hold televised executions of the state officials they took hostage.

According to a document filed by the Michigan Attorney General's Office this week in response to an attempt by attorneys for one of the men to drastically reduce his bond, the militiamen devised the Capitol takeover plan alongside their schemes to abduct Whitmer from her summer home. At the end, they intended either to kill everyone inside the building or to simply set it aflame with everyone locked inside.

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Ohio Rightist Plots ‘Citizen’s Arrest’ Of GOP Gov. DeWine

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Citizen's arrests are all the rage among right-wing extremists these days, it seems. Barely two weeks after 14 Michigan militiamen were arrested as part of a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer under the rubric of a "constitutionalist" fantasy, a similar plot to make a "citizen's arrest" of Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine—accused similarly of "tyranny" by imposing coronavirus-related health measures—bubbled to the surface this week.

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