(Long title: “Biden’s Budding Cabinet: Deep Experience, Expertise, Character, Diversity, Crisis-Tested – Not Loyalists, Bootlickers, Cronies, Big Donors, Little Minds”)
In an op-ed article in June, Biden wrote:
Across the board — from our classrooms to our courtrooms to the president’s cabinet — we have to make sure that our leadership and our institutions actually look like America.
More recently, the president-elect’s transition team said:
[They]are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one. These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.
Thus far, it appears that the president-elect is fulfilling his campaign promises to the letter, especially in the areas of experience and diversity, of making sure that the U.S. leadership and institutions “actually look like America.”.
This is already apparent in his choices for several top cabinet positions which Biden announced in his first “address to the nation” since the General Services Administration finally conceded and designated Biden the apparent winner:
Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American who served as the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, creator of the DACA program and the first Latino person and first immigrant to be selected for that high position.
Director of National Intelligence: Avril D. Haines, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the first woman to lead the US intelligence community.
National Security Advisor: Jake Sullivan, former deputy assistant to President Obama and advisor to Biden on national security. At 43, if confirmed, Sullivan will be one of the youngest national security advisers in our history,
For U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a position restored to cabinet-level status, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman with 35 years of stellar experience in foreign service including U.S. ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012 and service as the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration. The Louisiana nominee promised to put “a Cajun spin” on her approach.
For what may be the most prestigious cabinet position, Secretary of State, the nominee is Antony Blinken who really does not need an introduction except to say that he represents, is, experience, expertise, and diplomacy.
Of similar pedigree is Biden’s nominee for a brand new and particularly important cabinet-level position, that of special presidential envoy for climate change, part of the National Security Council. As Biden’s nominee, former Secretary of State and leading architect of the Paris climate agreement, John Kerry also needs no introduction and, significantly, no Senate confirmation.
It is also reported that Biden plans to nominate Janet L. Yellen as Treasury Secretary. That nomination would place a woman in charge of Treasury for the first time in the department’s history.
Finally, if persistent reports prove correct, Michèle Flournoy could be the first woman to become Secretary of Defense.
The head of the General Services Administration, a low-profile agency that directs resources for stuff like government real estate and oh yeah…transition funds from one presidential administration to the next, announced it was approving the transition to the Biden administration.
After a presidential election when a new leader is elected, the GSA routinely releases funding to the new administration so there will be a smooth transition between the election and when the new president takes the oath of office in January. Although the head of the agency is appointed by the outgoing president, there’s usually no drama over this person doing their job. That was not the case this time.
Emily Murphy is the head of the General Services Administration. Emily Murphy has been described as a by-the-books administrator. Emily Murphy is a coward.
Joe Biden won the election more than two weeks ago. And even though Donald Trump was having a public hissy fit, hiding in his bunker except to play golf, refusing to answer reporters’ questions, throwing out conspiracy theories, issuing over 300 lying tweets since the election, losing over 30 legal challenges, inviting state Republican legislators to the White House to coerce them to reject their citizens votes, and having Rudy Giuliani hold press conferences outside dildo stores and icking all over the place, Emily Murphy could have approved the transition process to begin.
Even if by some bizarro-world situation where Trump flipped states and would remain president for the next four years (Brrr! I just got a chill), nothing would have been lost by preparing for a Biden presidency. No harm would have been done. If Joe Biden was receiving the same daily intelligence briefings as Donald Trump, it wouldn’t have been a risk to this nation.
When it comes to the security briefings, Joe Biden has been in positions previously where he received them. Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden would qualify for a security clearance without being president. Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden would actually read the briefing material. Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden would not tweet or share classified information with Vladimir Putin. Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden would not overrule the FBI and give security clearances to his daughter and son-in-law (who was trying to create a back channel with Russia and is in debt to Middle Eastern kingdoms).
Emily Murphy could have said, “I know Trump is going to be a big baby about this but I’m moving the process forward. It’s the right thing to do.” She could have done the right thing…but she didn’t. That will be her legacy. Imagine how she would have been remembered if she had done the right thing. You can only imagine it because Emily Murphy is a coward.
Emily Murphy released a statement saying, “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision.” Bullshit.
Emily Murphy is a coward and just like every Republican in Washington, she was afraid of angering Trump and his MAGAts. She claims she received death threats. I doubt Democrats were issuing those threats. She claimed even her pets received death threats. How do you claim you didn’t feel any pressure when people are threatening your dog?
Emily Murphy is a coward and she should have done her job in the first place. She shouldn’t have waited 16 days. She is just another Trump goon who put the cult before duty. Even though she was hired by Trump, she works for the citizens of the United States of America, not Donald Trump. She is paid by us, not Donald Trump. She should have done her job.
What Donald Trump did was put himself before the nation. He undermined our democracy. He told his supporters our election failed. He told his supporters they can’t trust democracy. He told our allies the president (sic) of the United States didn’t believe in democracy. He told our enemies the president (sic) of the United states didn’t believe in democracy. Donald Trump tried to remain president after losing an election. Donald Trump attempted a coup. Emily Murphy, like so many Republicans, enabled him.
Emily Murphy, you are not a hero. You are not brave. You are a failure and a sycophant of the cult. You’re no better than Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Baby Goebbels Miller, or Steve Baby Fishmouth Mnuchin. And just like all the MAGAts Trump brought with him, I look forward to your dismissal after January 20.
Donald Trump is boasting he has delivered a vaccine to the coronavirus. He really didn’t have anything to do with that but still, his stonewalling the Biden transition endangers the distribution of the vaccine after he’s gone.
Donald Trump hasn’t just be trying to discredit the Biden administration. His actions were an attempt to make it fail. And if that means more Americans died, for Donald Trump, so be it. It’s not like he cared about Americans dying from the virus before the election. If more Americans die after Trump leaves office, even if it’s his fault, he can blame Biden and tweet about it.
Now, he’s going to pin a medal on himself for approving the transition. Donald Trump tweeted he told Murphy to release the transition funds while Murphy is saying she made the decision on her own. These people need to coordinate their bullshit.
Even If Murphy never did release the funds before January 20, it wouldn’t have stopped Joe Biden from becoming president. While Trump goons say the media doesn’t decide who wins elections, neither does the GSA or the president (sic). Joe Biden will be president on January 20 and there’s nothing Donald Trump or Emily Murphy can do about that. But, they’re still going to give the impression Donald Trump allowed it.
Prediction: Donald Trump will be praised by the Trump media and MAGAts for being a big boy and getting out of the way for Joe Biden. You’ll see. Geraldo Rivera wants to name the vaccine to the virus that Donald Trump allowed to kill over 250,000…after Donald Trump to “honor” him. That’s how these people are. We should NOT name any vaccine after Donald Trump. We have named the virus after him. He is the virus, not the cure.
Three weeks after Biden was proclaimed president-elect – and while Trump continues to refuse to accept the election results – Trump’s “stablemate,” Vladimir Putin, has yet to recognize Biden’s worldwide-acknowledged victory.
Talking out of both sides of his mouth, Putin said on Russian state TV: “’We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people.’
However, he was clearer and more supportive of his stablemate with his “but”:
But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognized by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way.
Putin’s emotional support for his friend (and commendable desire for seeing elections conducted in a legitimate, legal way) follows his spokesman’s (Dmitry Peskov) “this election is different” statement a few days ago:
Obviously, you can see that certain legal procedures are coming there, which were announced by the incumbent president — therefore this situation is different, so we consider it correct to wait for the official announcement.
In other words, paraphrasing the late Adlai Stevenson’s famous words, it is now the Russians’ turn to wait until Trump’s hot temper freezes over.
And it may be Russia’s wish to, in fact, wait “until hell freezes over,” because, according to Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Parliament’s upper house’s Foreign Affairs Committee:
With the victory of a Democrat, one can expect revenge from all nonconservative forces around the world. This means more Russophobia in Europe, more deaths in (eastern Ukraine) and in many other hot spots of the world, as well as more politically motivated sanctions, if we talk about the direct and simplest consequences.
Putin indeed seems to be a good friend to Trump, even in bad times.
In addition to having been Putin’s “stablemate” at one time, calling Putin “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” admiring Putin’s “big hero” status in Russia, Trump claims they just “have a very good feeling for each other.”
All good and well, but with friends like these, who needs enemies.
Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler has caught on among right-wing politicians and “influencers” – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they can share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website has become a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who are now interacting with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.
With its newfound success, the site is contributing to the widening gap between the different perceptions of reality held by the polarized public. On mainstream social media, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the presidential election, and theories alleging crimes by the Biden campaign and Democrats are flagged as misinformation. On Parler, Donald Trump won in a landslide, only to have his victory stolen by a wide-ranging alliance of evildoers, including Democrats and the so-called “deep state.”
While it’s too early to tell if Parler is here to stay, it has already achieved a reputation and level of engagement that has overtaken other alternative platforms. But along with its success comes the reality that extremist movements like QAnon and the Boogalooers have thrived in the platform’s unregulated chaos.
Parler was launched in 2018 and found its place as another niche platform catering to right-wing users who ran afoul of content moderation on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Its user base remained small – fewer than 1 million users – until early 2020.
These actions continued in the wake of the election, especially as mainstream conservative politicians and Trump pushed the false claim that Biden and the Democrats committed large-scale voter fraud to steal the election. Consequently, millions of users migrated to alternative platforms: Gab, MeWe and, in particular, Parler.
Users flocked there because of the promise of a site that wouldn’t label false information and wouldn’t ban the creation of extremist communities. But they also moved because Republican politicians and well-known elites signaled that Parler was the new home for conservative speech. These include commentator Mark Levin and Fox host Sean Hannity.
Promoting racism, anti-Semitism and violence
Parler has only two community guidelines: It does not knowingly allow criminal activity, and it does not allow spam or bots on its platform. The lack of guidelines on hate speech has allowed racism and anti-Semitism to flourish on Parler.
My research center has spent several years building an extensive encyclopedia of far-right terminology and slang, covering niche topics from the spectrum of white supremacist, neo-fascist and anti-state movements. We have studied the ways that far-right language evolves alongside content moderation efforts from mainstream platforms, and how slang and memes are often used to evade regulations.
We have monitored far-right communities on Parler since March and have found frequent use of both obvious white supremacist terms and more implicit, evasive memes and slang. For example, among other explicit white supremacist content, Parler allows usernames referencing the Atomwaffen Division’s violentlty anti-Semitic slogan, posts spreading the theory that Jews are descended from Satan, and hashtags such as “HitlerWasRight.”
In addition, it is easy to find the the implicit bigotry and violence that eventually caused Facebook to ban movements like QAnon. For example, QAnon’s version of the “blood libel” theory – the centuries-old conspiracy theory the Jewish people murder Christians and use their blood for rituals – has spread widely on the platform. Thousands of posts also use QAnon hashtags and promote the false claim that global elites are literally eating children.
Among the alternative platforms, Parler stands out because white supremacists, QAnon adherents and mainstream conservatives exist in close proximity. This results in comment threads on politicians’ posts that are a melting pot of far-right beliefs, such as a response to Donald Trump Jr.’s unfounded allegations of election crimes that states, “Civil war is the only way to drain the swamp.”
Behind the scenes
Parler’s ownership is still kept largely secret. However, the few pieces of information that have come to light make Parler’s spike in popularity even more concerning.
Notably, conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, are investors in the platform. Rebekah Mercer helped co-found it with Matze. The Mercers are well known for their investments in other conservative causes, including Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign, Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica. The connection to Cambridge Analytica has, in particular, alarmed experts, who worry that Parler may harvest unnecessary data from unwitting users.
Parler’s fate will hinge on what its members do over the next few months. Will the company be able to capitalize on the influx of new users, or will its members slowly trickle back to the larger platforms? A major factor is how Trump himself reacts, and whether he eventually creates an account on Parler.
Having catered to a right-wing audience and allowed hate speech to thrive on its platform, Parler is also at the whims of its user base. Parler’s main competitor, Gab, similarly attempted to capitalize on concerns about unfair moderation against conservatives. However, Gab’s expansion came to a halt after Bowers’ mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers had been posting anti-Semitic and violent content on the platform, and the revelation resulted in PayPal, GoDaddy and Medium banning Gab from their services.
“Noon GMT. This is the BBC (British B.S. Corporation) afternoon radio report. We’re going live to the press enclosure on the South Lawn of the White House where Our Man In Washington, David Anderson, is reporting live on the developments there. Are you there, David?”
“Yes thank you, London. We’re watching the now departing former President Trump walk across the South Lawn toward the Marine One helicopter with his retinue in tow.
He missed the swearing in of President Biden on the Mall (largest crowd since Obama’s, verified) due to the presence of some serious Russian looking debt collectors in the VIP stands searching for him.
Now it is complicated listeners because on the other side of the building, at the North Portico the Bidens are just arriving as we speak, so this hand-over is a bit untraditional as it’s a case of “in one door and out the other”. The usual Oval Office hand-over sit-down handshake isn’t happening this year, apparently. The Trumps held on until the last moment like turds in a toilet bowl but now the new occupants have arrived. There is even a very funny Australian song about it.
Marine One is scheduled to be lift off towards Andrew Airforce Base momentarily where the complimentary Air Force One flight to the (now former) President’s residence is waiting.
And there’s Mr. Trump!…. climbing the stairs of the helicopter. Following him is accomplice Melania who was an Eastern European made blow up sex doll until she married Mr. Trump who turned her into a real celebrity.
If you recall in 2016 she was promoted by the GOP and Faux Noos as speaking “five or six languages” but it turned out she barely even speaks English and I don’t speak Slovenian so I can’t judge her fluency there. She is made entirely of wax and botox. Due to her working here illegally in the 1990s the DHS – Immigration Division, apparently wants to talk to her. She is joined by her “chain migration” Slovenian parents.
Behind them are Trump sons Uday and Qusay, looking forward to tormenting the American people for decades to come with a series of humiliating and no doubt failed runs for President themselves. Lots of laughs ahead, then. They’ll do that after the promised panda bear trophy hunt in Beijing Zoo which President Xi arranged in return for their Dad’s folding on our trade disputes.
Now sashays Ivanka! — she has magical powers – and her boy-man child Jarred whose plans include losing even more billions on brainless NY real estate deals and buying dying print newspapers. And of course: Olympic standard slum-lording, foreclosing on poor people.
Behind “Javanka” is CIA Director Pompous Piggy Pompeo eating an entire leg of ham, no… actually that’s part of William Barr’s thigh he’s chewing on. This is indeed an historic day.
Also interesting is who is not here to see off the president or grab the departing chopper like it’s Saigon 1975. For instance, Thurston and Lovey Mnuchin were seen jetting out of Dulles Airport on a government plane this morning to Switzerland, interestingly just before an enquiry was announced as to a $2 billion in unmarked cash “accounting loss error” at the US Mint. Curious, that.
HUDD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson was supposed to be here but lost his luggage – again – and is still off looking for it.
The rest are mainly in jail with some reclused in shame and gone to ground in parts unknown, likely beyond extradition jurisdiction and the rest are pretending they had nothing to do with the whole four years.
Oh and look! It’s the Pences: V.P. Mike and Mother, kneeling and praying to their imaginary god, presumably for forgiveness …or a ride out? But there’s no room on the helicopter for you good Chriiistian folks, apparently, and wait till they learn there is no god too. Boy will they be steamed!
Next to the Pences we can just see Trump’s “spiritual advisor” Paula White running in circles and jabbering in tongues. Her accomplice over there looks like that maniac Kenneth Copeland who is LAUGHING in tongues – a bizarre and terrifying scene. This is quite the freak show, London, I say what. Ahh.. America will miss the “Faith Community” in charge.
I guess with the changeover the whole bonkers train of gewgaw hawkers, Jesus maniacs, thieves, con-men, faith healers and weirdos is pulling out of the station finally.
And speaking of weirdos, there’s “America’s Mayor” Rudi G. running in a strange, lurching zig zag pattern after the line for the helicopter. What’s a Golf Course Drunk to do without a golf course? Well we have our answer: run desperately towards Marine One. “TAKE MEEEE!” he is screaming, vomiting on Piggy Pompeo who is now eating up Rudi’s vomit. Oh dear. Quite an inelegant send-off, London, quite. Bad luck for Rudy too, he’s not going anywhere as a Secret Service agent just punched him in the face.
They’re all filing across the hallowed South Lawn and Marine One is firing up now.
It is like Nixon in 1975 except Trump is flashing that shit eating grin as he “thumbs up” to the brain damaged MAGA deplorables whooping and hollering it up on the other side of the “Big Beautiful Wall” that Trump did indeed build – around the White House perimeter.
Reports of stolen White House silverware clinking in Javanka’s Loius Vuiton bags may or may not be true, but the real grift was never in the hotels or the branding, it was in quiet nominee shell corps and cutout investors using options trading on inside government information, information that moves the markets and made everybody in that swamp incredibly rich. It was corruption elevated to high art.
Marine One is taking off now – up into the clear blue winter sky, off to Mar a Lago via Andrews and whatever new grifts this crime family has in store.
I must admit. I saw this coming. Once it became clear that Donald Trump was seriously considering a 2024 Presidential run I KNEW eventually he’d either seriously consider or decide to make his announcement on Joe Biden’s inauguration Day — even during the inauguration itself.
According to three people familiar with the conversations, the president, who refuses to acknowledge he lost the 2020 election as he clearly did, has not just talked to close advisers and confidants about a potential 2024 run to reclaim the White House but about the specifics of a campaign launch. The conversations have explored, among other things, how Trump could best time his announcement so as to keep the Republican Party behind him for the next four years. Two of these knowledgeable sources said the president has, in the past two weeks, even floated the idea of doing a 2024-related event during Biden’s inauguration week, possibly on Inauguration Day, if his legal effort to steal the 2020 election ultimately fails.
…According to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, the president has privately bragged that he’d still remain in the spotlight, even if Biden is in the Oval Office, in part because the news media will keep regularly covering him since—as Trump has assessed—he gets the news outlets ratings and those same outlets find Biden “boring.”
Neither the Trump campaign nor the White House provided comment on this story on Friday.
Why did I (correctly) assume this would be Trump’s path?
Because it has been an enduring norm that after an election w new President gets an unfettered spotlight on inauguration day. Even if outgoing Presidents detested their replacements they allreceded during election day. This was one more norm left for Trump to shatter.
But will he get the kind of media cover he hopes?
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but he makes an announcement during inauguration day or a speech it’s hard to imagine any network except for Fox News carrying it. He would no longer be a President, but an ex-President announcing a run for President four years away. Except for Fox News, it’s highly unlikely CNN, MSNBC, or any of the broadcast networks will treat a man who lost by such a huge popular and electoral vote margin the same as the Trump of 2015 or even earlier.
On the other hand, he still has the Twilight Zone far-right networks that will cover him like a blanket when he gets out of office.
But the bottom line is this: tinkering with the idea of running for election four years down the road and announcing it during an incoming President’s inauguration would be something so petty it has never been seen in American history.
A friend in Washington, D.C. told me that Trump is planning to “coordinate” some major announcements of his own on the same days President-elect Biden has major announcements, including inauguration day.
Many Americans realized previously that Donald Trump considered himself above the law, a king ruling the nation but evading major responsibilities for running it. His handling of the Covid 19 virus pandemic reinforced the perception that he considered himself American royalty, above the fray and able to do anything he wanted. With the catastrophe of Covid decimating Americans, Trump refused to formulate any centralized plan to contain the virus, leaving it to the individual states. When asked whether he felt at all responsible for the disaster, he replied no.
However, his negligence was responsible for tens of thousands or more deaths, as protective equipment, testing ability, ventilators, masks, and therapeutic modalities were in short supply for months and months. The lack of a federal plan meant that the states had to compete against one another for equipment, driving up the prices and making necessary products more difficult to obtain. Remarkably, 11 months after the onset of the pandemic, there still is not enough testing available to meet the needs of all citizens. Trump’s behavior reminds one of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. When told that her subjects were hungry and had no bread she replied, then let them eat cake. Trump’s lack of understanding of the medical and economic effects of the pandemic are at the same level of denial and lack of caring.
And with the pandemic the most important issue for Americans, Trump has not attended a meeting of the Covid advisory committee for months. In addition, he held multiple rallies during the campaign that were super-spreader events with numerous supporters of his coming down with the disease after the rallies. Last weekend, there was a remote meeting of the G-20 to address the Covid problem. Trump did not attend, deciding to play golf instead. He also did not have an American representative attend the meeting.
Though Trump played golf frequently throughout his presidency, it appears that is all he is doing since the election, along with making false claims about the election being stolen from him and tweeting like mad. Constructing all sorts of bizarre conspiracy theories of how Biden seems to have won the election, that is all he appears to think about, paying no attention to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dying from the pandemic. Until yesterday, he prevented Biden as president-elect from moving ahead with the transition, but at the same time is not playing any of the expected presidential roles himself.
There has been nothing on Trump’s schedule since the election for him to handle as president, so it’s just golf, watching television and complaining about the election being stolen. In all likelihood, Trump thought of himself of being like a king and could not imagine losing the election. So he will take any action, legal or illegal to remain on his throne. Right now, his chances of success appear remote. King Donald the First.
Buy the Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
At best, President Donald Trump’s exit from the White House is ungraceful. At some point, it becomes disgraceful. And then dangerous. In fact, it already has.For example, our nation is not in a good place with the pandemic; no one could credibly argue otherwise. Whether a different president could have done a better job of handling the virus is no longer important. What is important is a smooth transition of our virus response between the administration that got us where we are and the administration that has to see us through the pandemic. This is not happening.But other dangerous things are …
“Petitioners do not allege, and there is no evidence of, any fraud in connection with the challenged ballots; Petitioners do not allege, and there is no evidence of, any misconduct in connection with the challenged ballots; Petitioners do not allege, and there is no evidence of, any impropriety in connection with the challenged ballots; Petitioners do not allege, and there is no evidence of, any undue influence committed with respect to the challenged ballots.”
The attorney backpedaling is not surprising.
It’s one thing to speculate via tweet, but quite another for an attorney, who is an officer of the court, to make representations to a judge. Trump’s lawyers are constrained in what they can assert by three major restrictions that apply to lawyers: professional ethics, rules of civil procedure and rules of evidence.
Legal ethics apply
As members of the bar association – the state entity that grants attorneys their license to practice law – lawyers have a professional ethics obligation “not to abuse legal procedure” by filing “frivolous” claims. Rule 3.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, some version of which applies in all states, forbids a lawyer from bringing a claim or argument “unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.”
The bar requires lawyers to “inform themselves about the facts of their clients’ cases and the applicable law” and “determine that they can make good faith arguments” supporting their clients’ positions.
At least outside the context of criminal defense, lawyers must be able to honestly represent to the court that they have a basis for believing they have a path to getting relief either based on existing law or “a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.”
Violating this requirement could expose the lawyer to sanctions from the state bar, which could range from a reprimand to a fine to a license suspension. More practically, it can erode courts’ confidence in the lawyer’s reliability and damage the lawyer’s professional reputation.
In Trump’s case, this means his attorneys can only say the election was stolen if they know of actual, credible reports of systematic fraud.
Sanctions can be imposed
Formal disciplinary administrative proceedings against lawyers by the bar for this kind of misconduct are rare. But less rare are motions by opposing parties for sanctions under a different rule.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 allows an opposing party to move for sanctions against a lawyer who files a frivolous claim or makes a frivolous argument. Most states have an analogous rule for their courts.
Rule 11 provides that when making a claim before the court, the attorney certifies, “after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,” that:
it’s not being made for an improper purpose, such as to harass or delay;
the claims are warranted by existing law or a nonfrivolous argument for a change in the law; and
the factual assertions have evidence to support them, or will likely have such support after a reasonable opportunity for investigation and discovery.
For example, if a corporation’s lawyer files an antitrust complaint that she knows to be a stretch, just to block a rival’s merger deal and give her client time to complete its own merger deal first, that would be a violation of Rule 11.
The rule allows any opposing party to ask for sanctions, or for the court to order sanctions on its own initiative. Frequently, such sanctions include paying the other side’s attorney fees for having to do the work to oppose the frivolous claim or argument.
As an election law scholar and practitioner, I believe that perhaps the most compelling rule keeping lawyers cautious is the practical consideration that making unsubstantiated claims of fraud is not only unethical but also a waste of time.
Eventually — and, under the accelerated time frame of these cases, that means pretty quickly — the lawyers are going to have to present actual evidence to judges. Without such evidence, judges will dismiss the claim.
And a lawyer making fraud claims without evidence runs the risk that an impatient judge might dismiss an entire case, even if other, legitimate claims are being made.
When it comes to the election fraud claims, watch what the lawyers do, not what the politicians say.