Two Georgia counties filed motions this week asking a state court to order former President Donald Trump, his campaign and the state GOP chairman to pay thousands of dollars in attorneys fees for a case challenging the presidential election results, the latest in a string of attempts to exact consequences for Republicans and their lawyers who pushed a groundless months-long campaign to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in court.
Cobb County is asking Trump and Georgia GOP chair David Shafer to pay $10,875 in fees and DeKalb County is asking for $6,105, for a lawsuit challenging the state’s election results that the Trump campaign ultimately withdrew in January.
The filings come days after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., referred a lawyer who litigated a case challenging several battleground states’ election results to a grievance committee for potential disciplinary action, saying that any attorney trying to do something so bold as overturning an election should be “required to act with far more diligence and good faith than existed here.”
Attorney Lin Wood is facing an investigation by the State Bar of Georgia for his post-election conduct—which includes leading several failed lawsuits—and was also kicked off an unrelated case in Delaware, dropped by client Nicholas Sandmann and faces potential removal from a defamation case against MSNBC host Joy Reid.
Michigan and the city of Detroit are asking for far-right attorney Sidney Powell and her co-counsel to be sanctioned for their “Kraken” lawsuit in the state, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have filed complaints calling for the attorneys to be disbarred.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has had an ethics complaint filed against him with the New York State Bar that calls for him to be investigated and potentially disbarred for his leading role in Trump’s election challenges.
Attorneys in Arizona filed an ethics complaint against Powell and 20 other lawyers who were involved with 10 “utterly meritless” post-election lawsuits in the state.
“Given the number of failed lawsuits filed by the former President and his campaign, Petitioners apparently believed that they could file their baseless and legally deficient actions with impunity, with no regard for the costs extracted from the taxpayers’ coffers or the consequences to the democratic foundations of our country,” attorneys for Cobb County official Janine Eveler wrote in the court filing, saying they were asking for fees “in an effort to provide a modicum of accountability for the actions of Petitioners and to send a signal that similarly deficient contests filed in the future will face similar consequences.”
Trump’s lawyer in the Georgia case, Ray Smith, has not yet responded to a request for comment, but the other attorneys now being targeted have largely remained defiant. “I have a high sense of ethics, personally,” Giuliani said on his radio show about the growing complaints against him, denying he had acted improperly, while Wood decried the State Bar of Georgia’s investigation against him as “agenda-driven” and said on Telegram he will “rip the State Bar of Georgia to shreds in a courtroom.”
What To Watch For
CNN reports that other counties in Georgia may file similar motions to Cobb and DeKalb’s demands for attorneys fees. Officials in other battleground states targeted by Trump’s post-election lawsuits may also follow suit: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers told the Washington Post the state will “absolutely” seek attorneys fees, saying there “needs to be repercussions for this reckless, dangerous behavior,” and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the Post “there will be accountability” for those who litigated the “meritless” lawsuits in the state.
Trump and his allies spent the months after the presidential election pursuing a wide-ranging legal campaign targeting the vote count in battleground states, which ultimately resulted in more than 60 failed court cases. Beyond the consequences being pursued for lawyers’ actions in court, Trump and his allies are also facing potential punishment for their efforts to sow distrust in the election results more broadly. The president is the target of multiple investigations for his post-election conduct in Georgia, including a phone call in which he asked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to flip the election results, and Powell and Giuliani have been sued for defamation by voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for spreading a baseless conspiracy theory involving the companies’ voting machines. Dominion has also sued MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell, and Smartmatic’s lawsuit also names Fox News and several of its top anchors. (The network and those named in the lawsuits deny the claims against them.)