Despite rebukes, Trump's legal brigade is thriving - POLITICO

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  jbb  •  one month ago  •  24 comments

By:   Stefanie Lambert (POLITICO)

Despite rebukes, Trump's legal brigade is thriving - POLITICO
Their claims were dismissed as baseless, but many attorneys have never faced discipline and have found new business as go-to MAGA lawyers.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Special report

Despite rebukes, Trump's legal brigade is thriving


Their claims were dismissed as baseless, but many attorneys have never faced discipline and have found new business as go-to MAGA lawyers.

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Rudy Giuliani listens to Sidney Powell, both lawyers for then-President Donald Trump, during a news conference at the RNC headquarters, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Juli Haller was part of Donald Trump's legal brigade in Michigan, filing a lawsuit alongside the ubiquitous Sidney Powell that claimed absentee vote counts were likely manipulated by a computer algorithm developed by allies of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

The lawsuit was quickly deemed baseless, and she was among nine attorneys ordered by a federal judge to pay the city of Detroit and state of Michigan's legal fees and referred for possible disbarment. In a blistering rebuke, Judge Linda V. Parker called it a "historic and profound abuse of the judicial process."

But unlike Rudy Giuliani, whose law license was suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., for championing similar cases, or Haller's own co-counsel, Powell, whose law license is at risk in Texas, Haller is going strong. She has gained a robust client roster that includes two alleged members of the far-right vigilante group the Oath Keepers who are accused of fueling the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Haller's trajectory — from rebuked purveyor of baseless claims to a go-to attorney for MAGA extremists — infuriates many liberal activists, including some groups who are targeting the lawyers for discipline,and alarms some nonpartisan specialists in legal ethics. They say those who helpedlegitimize the former president's lies should not be allowed to use it as a foundation to build their legal practices, lest it serve as an incentive to profit from ever more outlandish claims that shake the confidence of Americans in the integrity of U.S. elections and endanger democracy.

In total, at least 16 lawyers who represented plaintiffs in five federal lawsuits promoting Trump's baseless election fraud claims in the key battlegrounds of Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona remain in good standing or have no record of disciplinary action with their respective bar associations or licensing authorities, according to a POLITICO review.

Fourteen of them have since engaged in additional work in support of the election fraud conspiracies or conspiracists behind Trump's attempt to remain in power despite losing the election to President Joe Biden. These include defending accused Jan. 6rioters,consulting for partisan election "audits" or partaking in advocacy or legal cases sowing doubts about the integrity of the nation's elections, POLITICO found.

Powell and Giuliani are the most well-known national legal voices who promoted conspiracies fueling the violent attack on the Capitol. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.

Powell, in November of 2020, said she would "release the Kraken" by providing evidence of widespread voting fraud proving Trump won the election. In fact, all of the suits were dismissed within days by judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents. But in the process, Giuliani and Powell brought together a pool of attorneys who were willing to push Trump's lies into court.

Now, however, many legal experts consider this network of attorneys a risk to future orderly elections administration and argue monetary penalties are an insufficient deterrent, simply because the lawyers involved can easily raise funds from disgruntled Trump supporters who may believe and are eager to spread the election lies.

"These lawyers have to be stopped from practicing law. It's that simple," asserts David Fink, an attorney leading the charge to disbar the attorneys in Michigan, including Haller. "They disregarded their oath, they told lies to the court and they spreadthe 'Big Lie,'" said Fink.

In arguing that monetary fines are not sufficient deterrent, Fink cited a report that Powell raised $14 million by spreading baseless claims about election fraud, including through the lawsuits.

Fink is aligned with The 65 Project, a new bipartisan group spending millions to try to disbar 100 lawyers who worked on Trump's post-election lawsuits. Its initial round of ethics complaints targeted top names on Trump's team, filed with their respective state bars in March. The group is now gearing up to file a wave of complaints against lesser-known attorneys who filed legal cases on baseless evidence, Michael Teter, the group's director, confirmed.

It's unclear how many state bar associations are pursuing any kind of disciplinary action, or whether they have rejected complaints, because most require that investigations remain confidential. Most states that do provide disciplinary records online only post the final opinions or orders.

POLITICO contacted bar associations or regulatory boards responsible for disciplinary actions in Washington, D.C., Michigan and Wisconsin, where a number of the lawyers are registered. They all declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules.

In addition to being one of nine attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the Michigan case, Haller was involved in four similar cases dismissed in other states, including as a "lead" attorney in Arizona, according to the court docket. Similar to the Michigan case, the Arizona suit raised questions about ballot tampering and hacked voting machines, including a statement attributed to an alleged former military intelligence expert only identified as Spider. A judge dismissed it without a hearing, stating plaintiffs were "sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence."

In an appellate brief filed last February in Michigan, the attorneys involved in that case stated they are targets of a partisan smear campaign.

"A Democrat Governor, a Democrat Secretary of State, and a Democrat Attorney General have joined a Democrat-appointed, Democrats-confirmed judge to ask a disciplinary body appointed and superintended by a Democrat-controlled state entity to kill the careers of Republican lawyers for advancing what is a mainstream Republican position on the 2020 Presidential Election."

Although judges reviewed written claims and documentation before dismissing her cases, Haller argues her team never got to make its case before the judge in Arizona, similar to what happened in other cases.

"There were no evidentiary hearings held, and an old expression, 'Absence of Justice leads to Strife' comes to mind; just ask the George Floyd protesters about that. I personally had nothing to do with Jan. 6," she said in response to emailed questions from POLITICO.

In next-door Wisconsin, Michael Deanwas the lead attorney for plaintiffs in a Wisconsin case alleging fraud via "ballot-stuffing." Dean's team sought to decertify election results, declare Trump the winner and impound Dominion voting machines.

In dismissing the case, Judge Pamela Pepper stated: "Federal judges do not appoint the president in this country. One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so." Dean has been representing former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is conducting a partisan audit of Wisconsin's 2020 election results and has called for decertifying the state's Electoral College votes after accusing Democratic leaders of large cities of fraud.

Such audits are a way of continuing the fight over 2020, even after courts have dismissed the cases. They have emerged as another source of work for pro-Trump attorneys.

Dean did not respond to a request for comment.

David Levine, a former Boise, Idaho, elections director, is among those in support of harsher punishment for lawyers who continue to fan the flames of election controversies long after they've been discredited. Levine is now a fellow for election integrity at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, part of the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan policy organization.

"If these folks aren't held accountable, they'll feel emboldened to continue to engage in actions that not only erode trust in the legal profession and integrity of elections but endanger lives of the American people," he said.

"We saw in 2020 how false election information could not only fuel an insurrection but cause bodily harm and loss of lives," said Levine. "After Watergate, we saw the legal profession be at the forefront of ethics reform. It's dramatically different from what we're seeing here," he said.

'Claims not backed by law'


U.S. lawyers have substantial leeway in filing court cases and in what they say outside the courtroom. Still, state bar associations generally try to self-police the legal profession according to a common set of rules that prohibit attorneys from bringing cases unless "there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous," as the American Bar Association states.

In New York, a state appeals court suspended Giuliani's license for making "demonstrably false and misleading" statements about widespread voter fraud.

And in Michigan, Rules of Professional Conduct stipulate that a lawyer may not knowingly "make a false statement of material fact or law" or "fail to correct" such a statement.

According to a pending complaint filed by a coalition of several Michigan lawyers with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, the team in the case involving Haller not only made numerous false assertions but "notably failed to disclose to the court that their false factual claims had been dismissed in state courts" prior to filing the suit. According to that complaint, when presented with an opportunity to defend their claims, the attorneys "voluntarily" dismissed the case rather than offer a "factual defense."

In her sanctions order statement, Parker, the judge, stated: "While individuals may have a right 'within certain bounds' to make baseless allegations of fraud in the public, attorneys cannot 'exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same.'" Parker continued: "The attorneys abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence."

'The mind of the lawyer'


Legal experts say the key to disciplining lawyers for frivolous cases is determining whether they knew the facts and arguments on which they were bringing their cases were false.

Ben Ginsberg, among the nation's most prominent conservative election lawyers, said, "You have to get into the mind of the lawyer and whether they thought and they had reasonable evidence to believe the charges they brought had some shred of credibility to them."

Barry Richard, who represented former President George W. Bush in litigating the disputed2000 election in Florida, agreed it would likely have to be proven the attorneys knowingly submitted false complaints in order to take more significant action such as the revoking of law licenses.

Yet, while state bar association rules differ, "anybody who took the position, with no basis, that there was fraud committed has violated a bar rule — no matter what state it is — and is subject to discipline," said Richard.

Members on the bipartisan House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have repeatedly warned that challenges to the nation's system of nonpartisan election administration remain a significant threat.

That's because, regardless of the ultimate penalties, if any, for Trump and his inner circle, his successful campaign to sow doubts about the security of U.S. elections has inspired GOP candidates across the nation to run on similar platforms. In two out of three governor and secretary of state contests, there is an "election denier" running, according to States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes secure elections.

Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued that it's important to take action against attorneys fanning the flames of election conspiracies before they can rely on officeholders to support the false claims.

Should various election deniers prevail in their campaigns, Burden said, "if a lawsuit is brought, as frivolous as it might be, [the pro-Trump lawyers] may have an ally in office who may be willing to testify in favor" of it or advance it in multiple ways, he said.

"It is alarming that that network of election deniers remains active," said Burden.

Unrepentant


Many of Powell's co-lawyers remain actively promoting conspiracies around 2020.

Stefanie Junttila, who's also gone by Stefanie Lambert, officially appeared as an attorney of record on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Michigan case. Despite the sanctions order, Junttila continues to post on her Telegram channel what she calls "evidence" of election fraud in 2020 and is representing Sheriff Dar Leaf, who is suing Michigan's attorney general and secretary of state for obstructing his own self-proclaimed investigation into voter fraud. In 2020, Leaf attended a rally related to COVID restrictions alongside a militia member later accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

As recently as mid-April, Junttila shared on social media a video of her appearance on the Stew Peters Show, in which she claims to have evidence of fraud committed in Delaware County, Penn., by union-aligned elections officials. And on May 5, Junttila filed a brief appealing her sanctions, insisting there "remain significant, legitimate concerns" with the election, which had "significant irregularities." Juntilla did not respond to a request for comment.

For her part, Powell, too, has been unrepentant.

In a July 2021 hearing before Parker, Powell stated: "We would file the same complaints again. We welcome an opportunity to actually prove our case."

POLITICO


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JBB
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JBB    one month ago

Admit it. Trump hired the Worst People in the World!

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JBB @1    one month ago

Absolutely true. Hopefully he will go to jail and be unable to run in 2024, clearing the way for DeSantis, who will proudly follow the principles and practices of Trumpism.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    one month ago
Hopefully he will go to jail and be unable to run in 2024 ...

Why is this your hope?   Do you believe Trump is guilty of a crime?   

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
1.1.2  Ronin2  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    one month ago

I can't speak for Greg; but it is my hope Democrats finally shut the fuck up and attempt to convict Trump. It will be a win/win for the Republicans.

Either Trump gets convicted- and Trump's radical followers will latch onto any candidate that offers to follow Trump's political tenants. They will be motivated to make sure no Democrat ever holds the highest office in the land again. It also will remove the entire "But Trruuummmmppppp!!!!" movement from the left. Whatever will they have to run on in 2024? Abortion; and that is it. Democrats expect to win on that?

Or Trump is acquitted and the Democrats and left lose it to the point that anyone with a functioning brain cell left votes against them. They will have failed in their one and only goal. Political careers will be forever ruined. Democrats will be left in shambles. Maybe a few of them will finally snap out of their TDS long enough to realize what they have done to the country and try and salvage what is left of their party. Not counting on it- the radical left now owns the Democrats. They will follow them down the rabbit hole trying to turn the US into their perverted version of China.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  Ronin2 @1.1.2    one month ago
I can't speak for Greg; ...

Do you believe Trump is guilty of a crime?  

Making this easier for you, if it is true that:

  • Trump knew that some of his supporters were armed with guns
  • Trump asked that these armed supporters be allowed past the metal detectors so as to boost the size of his crowd
  • Trump gave the speech that we can all witness where he encouraged the crowd to march on the capitol to 'stop the steal'.
  • Trump knew that some of his supporters broke and entered the capitol and were armed with various weapons
  • Trump refused the pleas of family, advisors and 'friends' for three hours while the capitol insurrection ensued and did nothing to stop them for three hours.

Do you find this to be sedition?

How about this now?:

  • Trump attempted to suborn his VP to set aside certified electoral results from select states.
  • Trump attempted to coerce AZ speaker Bowers to submit an alternate set of fake electors who would give Trump the AZ win
  • Trump attempted to coerce GA SoS Raffensperger to find him enough votes to win GA.

And if this is not sufficient then go hypothetical and assume that this is not Trump but rather a D PotUS who did this.    

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
1.1.4  Jack_TX  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.3    one month ago
Do you believe Trump is guilty of a crime?  

I can't speak for Ronin or Greg, but I suspect probably so.  However....

Making this easier for you, if it is true that:
  • Trump knew that some of his supporters were armed with guns
  • Trump asked that these armed supporters be allowed past the metal detectors so as to boost the size of his crowd
  • Trump gave the speech that we can all witness where he encouraged the crowd to march on the capitol to 'stop the steal'.
  • Trump knew that some of his supporters broke and entered the capitol and were armed with various weapons
  • Trump refused the pleas of family, advisors and 'friends' for three hours while the capitol insurrection ensued and did nothing to stop them for three hours.
Do you find this to be sedition?

That's a lot of ifs, and the list ignores several other significant pieces of data.  Even if we did accept all of that as fact, I'm not sure it establishes sedition.  There are too many other variables.

How about this now?:
  • Trump attempted to suborn his VP to set aside certified electoral results from select states.
  • Trump attempted to coerce AZ speaker Bowers to submit an alternate set of fake electors who would give Trump the AZ win
  • Trump attempted to coerce GA SoS Raffensperger to find him enough votes to win GA.
And if this is not sufficient then go hypothetical and assume that this is not Trump but rather a D PotUS who did this.    

I think this is the more likely location of potential crimes.  I think there is probably enough evidence to establish that he illegally attempted to interfere with the election.  There is also probably enough evidence to establish witness tampering.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.5  TᵢG  replied to  Jack_TX @1.1.4    one month ago
Even if we did accept all of that as fact, I'm not sure it establishes sedition. 

I am not sure it does not.

18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof , they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

If those points are true (hypothetical is all we have) then that certainly meets the requirements for sedition as I read it.


Ultimately, hopefully, this will be adjudicated.   So exactly how this turns into criminal charges remains to be seen.   But if this is not criminal and Trump is allowed to get away with this we have substantially lowered the bar on what a PotUS can do and I find that to be profoundly dangerous for our nation.

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
1.1.6  Jack_TX  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.5    one month ago
If those points are true (hypothetical is all we have) then that certainly meets the requirements for sedition as I read it.

Even if that were the entire body of evidence, I still don't think you get there.  And of course it isn't the entire body of evidence. 

We all know he specifically said "peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard". 

We all know that none of these supposedly armed people actually fired a shot.  So if Trump did know they were armed and judged that not to be a risk (as CH's testimony indicates), then he was proven correct.  Ordering the removal of metal detectors at his own rally is hardly a criminal act.

If "doing nothing while knowing your supporters are breaking the law and are likely armed" constitutes "sedition"... we'll be filing charges against huge numbers of past and present elected officials.

If you really want a sedition charge, move the focus from DC to Georgia and Arizona.  If it can be proven that he attempted to coerce state officials into falsifying election results....that's much easier to argue as sedition.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
1.1.7  Ender  replied to  Jack_TX @1.1.6    one month ago
"peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard".

If I was at a rally, filled with people that agreed with me, told them to fight like hell, we have to take our country back etc, then at some point said go in peace, the latter part in no way diminishes what I said previous.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.8  TᵢG  replied to  Jack_TX @1.1.6    one month ago
We all know that none of these supposedly armed people actually fired a shot. 

'Armed' goes beyond firearms.    Knives, bats, etc. all are considered being armed.

If you really want a sedition charge ...

I want Trump to be held accountable for his actions.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
1.1.9  Ender  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.8    one month ago

I read one op-ed that said trump wants to go ahead and announce he is going to run, as then he can say anything against him is political. Sort of use it as a shield.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.10  TᵢG  replied to  Ender @1.1.9    one month ago

That is what I have been suspecting.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Expert
1.1.11  Raven Wing  replied to  Ender @1.1.9    one month ago
trump wants to go ahead and announce he is going to run, as then he can say anything against him is political. Sort of use it as a shield.

As the evidence against him in the Jan 6 committee, it is more my thinking so that he can try to avoid prosecution for his crimes. Not sure how that would work, but, it has been suggested that he can't be prosecuted if he is a Presidential candidate. I would think he is chicken and coward enough to think that is possible.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.12  TᵢG  replied to  Raven Wing @1.1.11    one month ago

I suspect Trump will try to work public opinion since he knows that affects what politicians and officials (even the AG) do.

The people will get the kind of government we deserve;  if we excuse acts like those within Trump's Big Lie then we encourage others to do likewise (and possibly push the envelope even further).

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
1.1.13  Ender  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.12    one month ago
The people will get the kind of government we deserve

I have said that before. Maybe not as nice as you did...Haha

The people themselves will be their own undoing (and cheering it on the whole way...).

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.14  TᵢG  replied to  Ender @1.1.13    one month ago
The people themselves will be their own undoing

That is the key thing that has prompted my comments here for quite some time.   It is amazing and sickening watching people ignorantly act against their own best interests.   Case in point, defending Trump instead of ejecting him from the GoP and finding a new, at least marginally decent human being to serve as the face, voice and leader of the GoP.

And to a much lesser extent, if the Ds do not move from Biden/Harris in 2024 they will be similarly working against their own interests. 

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Expert
1.1.15  Raven Wing  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.12    one month ago
The people will get the kind of government we deserve; 

I truly hope so. Our men and women in uniform are not putting their life on the line just so the ass wipes on the SC can negate the hard won freedoms that they have fought and sacrificed their life and limbs for personal reasons. What they have done thinking they don't have to account for their crimes against our people, our country and our planet will soon result to their disadvantage big time.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2  Tessylo  replied to  JBB @1    one month ago

What an oxymoron - trump's legal brigade - is that the right word?

These whackjob deniers need to lose their ability to practice law ANYWHERE.  

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
1.3  Jack_TX  replied to  JBB @1    one month ago
Admit it. Trump hired the Worst People in the World!

Steve Mnuchin was actually very good.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.3.1  Tessylo  replied to  Jack_TX @1.3    one month ago

At what?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.3.2  JohnRussell  replied to  Jack_TX @1.3    one month ago
Steve Mnuchin was actually very good.

for what? 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.3.3  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @1.3.2    one month ago

Maybe he'll answer you John.  He always ignores me (and I'm fine with that).  

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
1.3.4  Jack_TX  replied to  JohnRussell @1.3.2    one month ago
for what? 

For saving American small businesses during the pandemic shutdown(s).

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.3.5  Tessylo  replied to  Jack_TX @1.3.4    one month ago

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