(AP) — A federal judge
deliberating whether to impose sanctions
on some of former President Donald Trump
's lawyers spent hours Monday delving into the specifics of an unsuccessful lawsuit
's 2020 election
The lawsuit alleging widespread fraud
was eventually dismissed after the judge discovered nothing more than “speculation and conjecture” that votes
for Trump were somehow destroyed or switched to votes for Joe Biden
, who won Michigan by 2.8 percentage points.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
and the city of Detroit now want the plaintiffs and a slew of attorneys, including Trump allies Sidney Powell
and L. Lin Wood
, to face the consequences of pursuing frivolous claims, the first attempt to wrest fines
or other penalties.
“It was never about winning on the merits of the claims,” the attorney general
’s office said in a court filing. “Rather, the goal was to undermine the integrity of the election results and the people
’s trust in the electoral process and in government.”
Powell and Howard Kleinhendler drafted the lawsuit last fall, but subsequent court action was handled by Michigan-based lawyers, according to U.S. District Judge Linda Parker on Monday.
Wood's name was on the lawsuit, but he insisted he had no role other than to tell Powell that if the parties needed a seasoned litigator, he would be available.
“I didn’t do anything in Michigan,” Wood told the judge during a Zoom
hearing that drew over 5,000 viewers at times.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and election officials from both political parties have publicly stated that the election went well, with international observers confirming there were no serious irregularities.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six Republican voters
who wanted Parker to decertify Michigan's election results and impound voting
machines. Parker refused the request in December, calling it "stunning in its scope and breathtaking in its reach."
Whitmer and her Democratic counterpart, Secretary of State
Jocelyn Benson, want the state to receive at least $11,000 in legal fees, while Detroit is asking the judge to disgorge any money
that lawyers received through a post-election fundraising campaign, and the city also wants the lawyers to face disciplinary hearings in their respective states
The hearing became tense as lawyers spoke over one another, and the court reporter, Andrea Wabeke, became irritated, pleading with them to "please stop interrupting."
Don Campbell, an attorney representing Powell and other lawyers, said there was plenty of legal precedent to go to federal court and challenge
an election's performance, and that the lawyers should not be sanctioned simply because an opinion submitted through an expert's affidavit was incorrect.
“We had a good faith basis,” Kleinhendler said, referring to an affidavit alleging that thousands of new ballots appeared in Detroit unexpectedly.
has been barred from practicing law in New York
for making false statements while attempting to persuade courts to overturn Trump's election loss.
Ed White can be found on Twitter