A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that Arizona Republican Kari Lake, who lost last month’s gubernatorial race, will be allowed to head to trial on two narrow claims in an election lawsuit.
Judge Peter Thompson ruled that the majority of the claims Lake made in her initial complaint – 8 out of 10 – would be immediately dismissed. The motion to dismiss hearing in Maricopa County did not present evidence or witness testimony. But on two of the counts, the judge found Lake should be allowed to proceed to a trial to attempt to prove intentional misconduct that resulted in her loss.
Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state, by about 17,000 votes.
The judge narrowed one allegation involving the printers on Election Day, allowing the Lake campaign to present evidence to back her claim that a Maricopa County employee had interfered with Election Day printers resulting in her losing votes.
The judge will also allow the Lake team to present evidence that Maricopa County violated its election manual regarding ballot chain of custody. The Lake campaign claims an unknown number of ballots were added, resulting in her loss. The judge called this claim a dispute of fact, rather than law, so Lake should be allowed to present her evidence in court.
Despite most of her lawsuit being dismissed, Lake tweeted, “Our Election Case is going to trial. Katie Hobbs attempt to have our case thrown out FAILED. She will have to take the stand & testify.”
She added: “Arizona, We will have our day in court!”
Lake has been tweeting out links to a fundraising site, urging followers to send money to support her legal effort.
The judge also ruled that Hobbs could be called to testify in her capacity as secretary of state, an office she’ll hold until she is sworn in as governor.
Democratic attorney Marc Elias, whose legal team is representing Hobbs, framed the court decision as a victory, pointing out that most of the claims were dismissed and that a higher hurdle lies ahead in the trial. “Proving intentional wrongdoing and that it affected the outcome of the election will be impossible for Lake,” Elias tweeted.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
As the liberal group Democracy for America approached insolvency following the midterm elections, staffers faced a related problem: their CEO, Yvette Simpson, was on vacation at a vineyard in California.
Weeks earlier Simpson had told two members of the development team that $320,000 needed to be raised for DFA to make it through the year, according to two former employees. But as the group’s dire financial state started to become clear to staff, she attended a leadership training paid for by the organization and a personal multi-day sommelier education course in Napa Valley, according to five former employees.
“Is this heaven? No, but it’s pretty close!” Simpson posted on Instagram while there. Eventually, she held an all-staff Zoom call while in Napa, in which she announced that DFA was running out of cash, according to an audio recording.
“We didn’t get major donations as we expected last month so we ended up using $100,000 from our reserve just to cover expenses,” she said. “If I were you, I would be looking for another job. … I want every member of this team to go out into the marketplace to see if they can get another job just in case.”
Though DFA was in deep trouble before Simpson left for California, her lack of substantial outreach to donors and her personal time away at that critical juncture was the culmination of the organization’s demise, according to the five former employees and a staffer’s contemporaneous notes and documents from inside DFA. She resigned on Dec. 7 as CEO and all non-leadership staffers were laid off the same day without any severance.
And last week, POLITICO reported that DFA was about to shut down while its separate 501(c)4 nonprofit would stay afloat.
It was an ignoble sendoff of a group that was once a major arm of the progressive movement. DFA was started in the wake of Howard Dean’s unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign. The group harnessed his progressive supporters and the anti-Iraq War movement’s momentum to support like-minded candidates across the country. It leaned on small-dollar fundraising to aggressively back progressives in competitive primaries. And in recent years, it expanded its focus to include secretary of state and attorney general races, ranked choice voting, student debt relief and Medicare for All.
But in a progressive ecosystem where groups have become more narrowly focused on issue advocacy or specific electoral tasks — such as candidate recruitment or voter protection — DFA has struggled. Dean left the organization after he became chair of the DNC in 2005 but continued to occasionally advise DFA from 2009 until 2016. He called the demise of DFA “sad” in a brief interview but declined to elaborate.
“DFA left it all on the field this year to stop the red wave and win critical elections up and down the ballot across the country. As DFA heads into the next cycle in this difficult fundraising environment, the decision was made to wind down the PAC by the end of the year,” said DFA special adviser Charles Chamberlain. “The DFA Advocacy Fund will continue its work for the foreseeable future focused on election reforms like ranked choice voting and the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” Simpson is still on the board of that fund, according to a person familiar with the matter, but it’s unclear whether she will remain in that position in the longer term.
Jim Dean told The Enquirer he stepped down in part because Simpson was available. He also said the demise of Democracy for America was not Simpson's fault. The organization had gone through similar lean financial times before her tenure.
"We have never, in the 18 years of our existence, never were flush with cash," Jim Dean said. "There was never any huge cushion. I’m a little bit surprised that seemed to be lost on the staff, because some of these folks had been there for a while and been there when we had cash shortages. It wasn’t the first time that’s happened."
With the January 6th Committee referring Donald Trump and several in his inner circle for criminal prosecution on multiple charges, Ryan Goodman at Just Security explores how the J6 referrals can bolster any Justice Department investigations into Trumpian criminality.
On Monday, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol released an executive summary of its final report, which focuses primarily on former President Donald Trump’s alleged criminal efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The committee, however, also presented new evidence of criminal efforts to interfere with its investigation – on the part of some witnesses, their attorneys, and others associated with the former president. It is the kind of evidence that may have far-reaching implications including bolstering Special Counsel Jack Smith’s January 6th and Mar-a-Lago investigations.
Among the most significant new revelations is the statement in the summary:“The Committee has substantial concerns regarding potential efforts to obstruct its investigation, including by certain counsel (some paid by groups connected to the former President) who may have advised clients to provide false or misleading testimony to the Committee” (emphasis added).
A recent Washington Post report revealed how similar ties have existed in the Mar-a-Lago investigation. That includes Trump’s Save America PAC paying for the lawyers for key witnesses including Walt Nauta who apparently initially lied to the FBI before confessing knowledge of Trump’s concealing classified materials. (The committee explicitly notes this connection to the Post’s reporting.)
The committee’s revelations accordingly sweep in a set of lawyers who have exposed themselves to criminal liability. The committee also identified some witnesses who appear to have followed through by lying to the committee.
These individuals may not have any criminal exposure involving the scheme to overturn the election itself, but now have criminal exposure for their actions toward the congressional investigation as part of a coverup. Their potential criminal liability could provide leverage for Special Counsel Smith to try to flip individuals to cooperate against Trump in the January 6 investigations and, if they also have insights into Mar-a-Lago, then in that investigation as well.
More specifically, according to the committee’s summary, one “lawyer had advised the witness that the witness could, in certain circumstances, tell the Committee that she did not recall facts when she actually did recall them.” The committee also stated:“During a break in the Select Committee’s interview, the witness expressed concerns to her lawyer that an aspect of her testimony was not truthful. The lawyer did not advise her to clarify the specific testimony that the witness believed was not complete and accurate, and instead conveyed that, ‘They don’t know what you know, [witness]. They don’t know that you can recall some of these things. So you saying “I don’t recall” is an entirely acceptable response to this.’”
Some of the witnesses also apparently followed through in falsely declaring an inability to recall pertinent information. The executive summary states: “Certain witnesses and lawyers were unnecessarily combative, answered hundreds of questions with variants of ‘I do not recall’ in circumstances where that answer seemed unbelievable.”
The committee also provided detailed analysis of other witnesses, such as former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Anthony Ornato, who appeared to have lied to the committee.
It can be a federal crime for any witness to tell congressional investigators that she does not recall information, when she does in fact clearly recall. It is also a federal crime to counsel someone to commit that act. Indeed, one of the most incriminating Nixon tapes included the sounds of President Richard Nixon coaching his senior aides to lie by claiming “I don’t remember, I can’t recall.”