A state judge in Wisconsin tore into the disastrous, Trump-supported “investigation” of Wisconsin’s 2020 election results Wednesday, finding that lead investigator Michael Gableman had not only largely turned up nothing of substance, but also that attorneys working on the case had shown an unwillingness to abide by professional conduct rules.
The 90-page filing from Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington was actually a follow-up to a month-old decision not to recuse himself from a public records lawsuit against Gableman’s office, based on claims from Gableman’s office that Remington was biased. In July, Remington wrote, he didn’t have time to fully flesh out his thinking. What followed on Wednesday was akin to a judicial diss track.
“From August 30 through December 4, 2021, the evidence speaks for itself,” Remington wrote near the end of the filing Thursday.
“[The Office of Special Counsel] accomplished nothing. It kept none of the weekly progress reports the Wisconsin State Assembly required it to keep. It recorded no interviews with witnesses. It gathered no measurable data. It organized no existing data into any analytical format. It generated no reports based on any special expertise. It did commence lawsuits against other parts of our state and local government, although at the time of this writing, OSC has received no relief. Instead, it gave its employees code names like ‘coms’ or ‘3,’ apparently for the sole purpose of emailing back and forth about news articles and drafts of speeches. It printed copies of reports that better investigators had already written, although there is no evidence that any person connected with OSC ever read these reports, let alone critically analyzed their factual and legal bases to draw his or her own principled conclusions.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) fired Gableman last week, just a couple days after Vos beat a Trump- and Gableman-backed primary challenger. So Remington’s take on Gableman’s investigatory work was a response, in some ways, to the investigation overall — in addition to Gableman’s meltdown in Remington’s courtroom in June, in the course of one of several of the public records lawsuits facing the probe.
In addition to speaking his mind on Gableman’s investigatory work, Remington also revoked the pro hac vice admissions of five out-of-state lawyers who’ve represented Gableman’s office — the status that allowed them to work in Remington’s courtroom in the first place — based on what the judge said were their manifestations of incompetency and their unwillingness to abide by rules of professional conduct and decorum.
Remington wrote that Gableman’s office’s response to his July decision was “a fever dream version of the facts of this case” and “a pernicious and selfish attempt to repaint the truth.”
“If my prior estimation that OSC’s brief ‘contains inaccuracies’ was improvident, it was only in the suggestion that OSC’s brief also contains accuracies,” the judge wrote.
Later, Remington described how, at one point, he’d received nearly 800 pages of records from Gableman’s office “shuffled into a cardboard envelope” and out of order, “as though deliberately misplaced.” Over the course of several weeks, he said, he reassembled them on the floor of his office.
“It would come as no surprise if OSC had simply emptied its trash into my office,” he wrote. “Maybe that is what happened.”
After denying that he was being sarcastic in a June hearing when he said he would wait on a filing with “bated breath,” Remington concluded: “I decline to respond further, except to once again note the astonishing waste of public resources in the drafting of allegations like this.” He repeated the sentiment word-for-word a few paragraphs later, in response to an unrelated allegation.
In a separate order Thursday, Remington found that Gableman had complied with court-ordered steps to purge a contempt finding against him in the public records suit: He’d searched for responsive records and submitted them to the plaintiffs, the watchdog group American Oversight. However, Gableman was 12 days late, Remington found, and at a rate of $2,000 a day, the judge ordered Gableman’s Office of Special Counsel to pay $24,000 in sanctions.
James Bopp Jr., one of the attorneys whose pro hac vice privileges the judge revoked, said they were appealing the $24,000 fine.