Trump campaign sued for attempting to disenfranchise Black voters
The Trump campaign has repeatedly sought to use the justice system to undo the president's defeat by President-elect Joe Biden. More than two dozen unsuccessful lawsuits have been filed since election day.
But the president's campaign is now on the other side of a lawsuit in a newly filed federal lawsuit alleging it violated the 1965 Suffrage Act in attempting to "disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters," especially urban African Americans from Michigan.
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"It's not even about President Trump's success and the Trump campaign's attempts to overthrow the elections," Monique Lin-Luse, associate attorney for the NAACP Legal Protection and Education Fund, who filed the lawsuit, told Yahoo News . "The mere attempt ... to overthrow him by disenfranchising and de-legitimizing black voters is illegal, and it is also dangerous and corrosive for our democracy."
President Trump on Tuesday at the White House. (Susan Walsh / AP)
The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington, DC, was on behalf of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and three Detroit residents over Trump's apparent efforts to reach out to local Wayne County, Michigan officials and state lawmakers influence, submitted to withhold votes to certify or intervene in the electoral process.
President Trump met with Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey at the White House Friday to convince GOP lawmakers to work on a plan to save the will of Michigan voters To put strength.
Legislators said after the meeting that they intend to obey the law regarding the selection of Michigan voters. Shirkey told the Associated Press that Trump spoke to them about the Michigan election results, but added that the meeting was harmless, the AP reported Tuesday.
In Wayne County, Trump reportedly tried to pressure two Republican members - Monica Palmer and William Hartmann - of the county's four-member Board of Canvassers not to confirm the election results there.
Palmer and Hartmann initially voted against certification, which sparked outrage on social media, then backed off and voted in favor of certification of the results. The AP reported that the president phoned the two officers personally, after which they filed affidavits to revoke their certification, which court records say they cannot.
"During the meeting, one of the Republican recruiters said she was open to certification for the rest of Wayne County (mostly white) but not Detroit (mostly black)," the complaint read.
The lawsuit also cites a press conference in Washington last Thursday at which Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's attorneys, claimed without evidence that the campaign identified 300,000 illegitimate ballots.
"These ballots were all cast in Detroit," said Giuliani, according to the complaint. "It will change the results of the Michigan election if you take Wayne County off."
The case points to several tweets from Trump alleging fraud in Detroit. "Election fraud has been rampant in Detroit for many years," Trump tweeted on November 19.
Yahoo News sent an email to the Trump campaign asking for comment. No lawyer is listed in the court records in this particular case. NPR reported Tuesday that the campaign refused to prosecute black voters. Senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis told the broadcaster that her only goal was "to ensure safe and fair elections".
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted Monday in favor of confirming the state's election results after days of speculation over whether outside influence from Trump's campaign or false allegations of electoral fraud would make a fairly routine process difficult. Black people make up around 39 percent of the population in Wayne County, the largest county in the state, which includes Detroit, according to the latest census data. Biden won there by more than 2-1 and won the state with more than 150,000 votes.
The civil lawsuit extends beyond Michigan and claims a Trump campaign strategy to disenfranchise voters in cities with large numbers of black voters.
A drive-by rally to confirm the results of the presidential election in Lansing, Michigan on November 14th. (Paul Sancya / AP)
"President Trump and his campaign have repeatedly - and incorrectly - aroused the specter of widespread fraud in Detroit and other cities with large black populations, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta, to suggest that votes from these cities should not be counted. " the complaint says.
Court records show that Tuesday the case was assigned to Judge Emmet Sullivan, the same judge who led the criminal trial of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn who ordered the U.S. Postal Service to establish facilities in states like Georgia and Georgia in early November sweeping Michigan to make sure postal ballot papers were delivered.
The new lawsuit requires the court to state that Trump's campaign committed behavior that violates the voting rights law and to prevent the campaign and anyone acting jointly or on their behalf from “continuing to put pressure on government or exercise local officials to license plaintiffs or other black voters by failing to confirm the results of the November 2020 election or appointing an illegal electoral roll that disenfranchises plaintiffs or other black voters. "
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Civil Rights Lawyers' Committee, told Yahoo News that electoral repression in the country is "alive and well". “What is different about that,” she said, “is that this may be the first time in recent history that we have seen a seated president-staged voter suppression campaign aimed at gaining the votes of black voters to be lifted massively. " and unprecedented extent. "
The lawsuit also raises the question of what consequences, if any, the Trump campaign and its allies could have in court for the state and federal civil proceedings they have filed, which are not yet required to produce credible allegations or evidence of widespread electoral fraud.
"I think a court could put off frivolous litigation," Justin Levitt, an elective and professor at Loyola Marymount University, told Yahoo News via email. "However, it is extremely unlikely that a court that is not currently hearing the dispute will be the court that is getting involved."
In other words, any sanctions against the Trump campaign in court would most likely come from a judge on one of the campaign's election cases. Generally, sanctions are pursued by one of the parties who files an equally detailed request and is ultimately decided by a judge whether it should be granted. The sanctions may include the plaintiff paying legal fees for the defendant.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani spoke at the Republican National Committee headquarters last week. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)
Last week, Detroit city attorneys sought sanctions against the Trump campaign attorney in federal court by removing affidavits from both of Hartmann and Palmer's federal lawsuit in Wayne County and a voluntary dismissal motion that was falsely campaigned said the county refused to confirm the election results, court records show.
"The affidavits and the text in the notice were submitted for an improper purpose: to make a free public statement of their alleged reason for voluntary dismissal before the court could deny their unfounded claims for electoral fraud," the newspaper said on Jan. November file filed said.
Clarke said that in one of the now dismissed cases involving Maricopa County, Arizona, the judge essentially asked the county to try to reclaim legal fees from the campaign. An example of a court viewing the campaign's conduct as "irresponsible and inappropriate".
"Some [courts] have made it clear that they believe the claims are unfounded, and if the unfounded litigation continues, defendants may well seek sanctions in those cases where they are sued," Levitt said.
Legal and electoral professionals have been telling Yahoo News and other news outlets for weeks that the Trump campaign's unfounded allegations of voter fraud and irregularity will only serve to undermine voter confidence in the electoral process.
"You are reckless in the sense that the legal claims are baseless," said Clarke. "They are not frivolous in that we have a seated president who has a target on the back of black voters. It is hard to ignore the grim racist reality that fuels these efforts."
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