A group of attorneys who sought to overturn the 2020 election doubled down on the effort in a sanctions hearing in federal court in Detroit on Monday, enraging a federal judge as they pushed for one last chance to explain to the world how the election was stolen.
“We would file the same complaints again,” lead “Kraken” attorney Sidney Powell told U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan. “We would welcome the opportunity to actually prove our case; no court has ever given us the opportunity. Instead we have been met with proceedings like this.”
Powell attended the virtual hearing with co-counsel Lin Wood, Howard Kleinhendler, and others to argue against potential sanctions from the judge for failing to conduct basic due diligence on 960 pages of affidavits supporting the lawsuit, which sought to have GOP electors from Michigan replace the Democrats chosen by the state’s voters.
But faced with claims that they had bamboozled and deceived the court, with potentially serious consequences, Powell and her fellow attorneys showed no sign of contrition. Instead, they were combative, condescending to the judge, unrepentant, and devoid of self-awareness.
They repeatedly pushed for an evidentiary hearing that would allow them to trot out dozens of affiants who had made already-debunked claims and to relitigate a series of baseless and bonkers complaints about the 2020 election.
In one exchange, Judge Parker told counsel, “I think it’s wrong for an affidavit to be submitted as evidentiary support if there’s been no minimal vetting.”
“How am I supposed to draw evidence from it?” she added.
Don Campbell, an attorney hired by Wood and Powell, replied with a sneer: “It’s called an evidentiary hearing.”
The “Kraken” attorneys face the prospect of serious sanctions: the state of Michigan and city of Detroit are asking Judge Parker to force them to pay for the costs of the case, and for her to refer the attorneys to the chief judge for the Eastern District of Michigan for potential banning from the district, and to their home bar associations to have their law licenses revoked.
That did not deter them.
Throughout the hearing, Parker went affidavit-by-affidavit, asking the assembled “Kraken” team whether they had done any work to verify whether the allegations were true, or if they even passed a basic smell test.
Parker was met with silence or anger each time she asked.
At one point, Kleinhendler said that the “Kraken” team had “talked to experts,” which led them to believe that the affidavits didn’t need checking.
“What they were telling us confirmed what these affiants were telling us, so there was nothing surprising about what these affiants were saying,” he added.
At another, Campbell expressed indignation at the idea that he, an attorney, was being questioned. He argued instead that the Kraken team’s status as attorneys meant that they should be trusted off the bat.
“You gotta be able to trust when something is submitted by counsel,” he said. “That should have tremendous value; I would say it ends the discussion on whether there’s good faith to submit it.”
Throughout the hearing, the “Kraken” attorneys also struggled to find documents that Judge Parker asked for.
“I’m a little surprised that counsel is coming to a sanctions hearing and does not have the documents they filed in front of them,” she said at one point.
Judge Parker alternated between shock and outrage at the attorneys behavior.
“I would caution you not to question my procedure,” she told Campbell at one point.
“I’m not a potted plant,” he replied.
Julia Haller, a former Trump administration DHS official who worked as a “Kraken” attorney, repeatedly dismissed Fink’s statements as either “hearsay” or “testimony.” Kleinfeld did the same.
This had the effect of reducing what Fink was saying — that the “Kraken” team had made basic factual errors and did not appear to be familiar with electoral law in Michigan — to a question of expertise.
Haller took that to its logical and hilarious extreme after Heather Meingast, an assistant attorney general arguing for the State of Michigan, told Judge Parker about an appellate ruling which found that the state had validly counted its absentee ballots.
“We would object to any testimony by counsel,” Haller said, to muffled laughter.
“That would be the court of appeals decision,” Meingast replied.
Haller retorted, stuttering: “Okay, and, thank you — and as far as the Court of Appeals goes, we also have a dissent in that case.”
Lin Wood, one of the wildest conspiracy theorists involved in the attempt to overturn the election, frantically tried to distance himself from the lawsuit.
“I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Wood, whose name is on the complaint, told the judge. Later, Powell told Parker that she had asked Wood for permission to put his name on the complaint before doing so.
Parker later described Wood’s complaint that he was “not involved” as an “after-the-fact assessment.”
The hearing reached its crescendo when Parker brought up an affidavit in which the sole basis for a fraud allegation was that the document’s author was “perplexed” by something he noticed.
Campbell, the attorney hired to defend the “Kraken,” replied to the judge: “Objectively — seriously? The word ‘perplexed’ is what you think is worth all the time and effort of all these attorneys, the court and your clerks?”
Parker retorted: “Did you really think it was worth it to file in support of your claims that have taken up time energy and space over the past several months?”