President Donald Trump’s lead campaign attorney in Michigan filed a patently false motion to dismiss their own election fraud-themed lawsuit on Thursday. The filing’s false claims prompted legal experts to wonder what, exactly, is going on in the Wolverine State.
Attorney Mark F. “Thor” Hearne II submitted the motion with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in order to stop the campaign’s legal efforts at blocking the certification of the 2020 presidential election results in Wayne County specifically and across Michigan generally.
“Plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss this action,” the motion notes. “The Wayne County board of county canvassers met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election. See the attached affidavits of Wayne County canvassing board members William C. Hartman [sic] and Monica S. Palmer.”
Attorneys and other legal observers immediately noticed a problem with the motion; Wayne County’s election board has not, in fact, declined to certify the results of the presidential election.
The campaign’s notice says the board of canvassers “declined to certify the results” — that is false. There are affidavits from the two GOP members that confirm they voted to certify — they’re now trying to walk it back, but that’s different from saying they declined to certify pic.twitter.com/NFQ9u3TEQr
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) November 19, 2020
“You…can’t make something true by…just saying it in a Rule 41 Notice of Dismissal,” noted federal appeals attorney Raffi Melkonian. “Otherwise all y’all lawyers whose Rule 41s say something other than ‘We are dismissing this case because we have won and opponents owe us Eleventy Billion Dollars’ are doing it wrong.”
Arizona-based defense attorney and legal blogger @bmaz similarly rubbished the Trump campaign’s bizarre dismissal.
“Am I missing something, or is this borderline insane?” he tweeted in reply. “My understanding is that the certification was done, complete and irrevocably filed. What’s up with this?”
“I think that’s right,” Melkonian said. “My guess is they’re going to take the position that these affidavits somehow rescinded the certification and bring a new suit saying that.”
Essentially the Trump campaign has moved to dismiss their own lawsuit because they believe their original request is now moot–based on the false belief/declaration that Wayne County reversed the certification. That’s not true, of course, but they decided to put it in their motion as if it were true anyway–a decidedly risky move.
“This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan as a direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted,” Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed in a statement.
Some said sanctions are in order.
Any attorney…in any court of the United States…who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct. 28 USC 1927
— Richard Goldwasser (@_Goldwasser_) November 19, 2020
The strategy was otherwise thoroughly mocked online:
I’m going to start putting so much weird shit in my voluntary dismissals. “Plaintiff voluntarily dismisses this action under FRCP 41(a)(1)(A). The Parties were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me.” https://t.co/S781v9CeDV
— Bennett 😎☀️ (@gallant_dimwit) November 19, 2020
And there are no tanks in Baghdad https://t.co/Z5vhxC9SQp
— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) November 19, 2020
They’re attempting to create an alternate reality. https://t.co/tuaqmwBASL
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) November 19, 2020
Wayne County unanimously voted to certify election results on Thursday night. The two Republican members of the board noted in the motion previously expressed umbrage at being asked to certify those results but ultimately buckled under local pressure and accusations that they were attempting to throw out ballots of predominantly Black voters in a bid to steal the election for the Republican Party.
After talking with Trump on the phone, however, Hartmann and Palmer are now trying to take their votes back. To that end, they both signed affidavits alleging their votes were conditioned on “the promise that a full and independent audit would take place” because of “serious process flaws which deserve investigation.”
But that’s not the same as the county itself declining to certify the results. In fact, Wayne County officials balked at the idea that the GOP members of the board can try to take their votes back after the fact.
The board’s vice chair Jonathan Kinloch told the New York Times “that vote was final…that vote was binding.”
Hearne previously filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Trump campaign in a court that had no authority to hear the case.
[image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]
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