Michigan Republicans' election claims are 'fevered rantings,' Detroit lawyers say

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lawyers for the City of Detroit say a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn Michigan's election results amounts to "little more than fevered rantings of conspiracy theorists built on the work of other conspiracy theorists."

"The preservation of our democracy requires zealous protection against threats external and internal," attorneys for Michigan's largest city wrote. "Plaintiffs would inflict generational damage in their naked pursuit of power. Their request must be denied."

Detroit filed a response Wednesday to a lawsuit that involves Sidney Powell, a supporter of President Donald Trump who has previously appeared with his legal team. Powell's Nov. 25 challenge relied heavily on conspiracy theories and debunked claims and involved six Michigan Republicans, including two local party officials, as plaintiffs.

Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump's legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

The plaintiffs sought emergency relief in Michigan's Eastern District, including a court order requiring Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to sign off on certified election results that state "President Donald Trump is the winner of the election."

But Trump lost Michigan by 154,000 votes to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, and the Board of State Canvassers has already certified the tally. The defendants in Powell's suit are Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the Board of State Canvassers.

The City of Detroit has intervened in the case because many of Powell's claims focus on the counting of Detroit residents' absentee ballots at the TCF Center.

Detroit's attorneys — members of the city law department and the firm Fink Bressack — noted that Powell had promised litigation of "biblical" proportions in support of Trump.

"Perhaps, plaintiffs should have consulted with Proverbs 14:5, which teaches that 'a faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies,'" Detroit's response begins. "Few lawsuits breathe more lies than this one. The allegations are little more than fevered rantings of conspiracy theorists built on the work of other conspiracy theorists."

Trump supporters have engaged in a weeks-long effort to try to discredit Michigan's election. But many of their core claims have been based on speculation, are incorrect or have been rejected by election experts.

"The fraud" in Michigan "begins with the election software and hardware from Dominion Voting Systems Corporation," which is used by some counties in the state, Powell's Michigan suit said.

"Smartmatic and Dominion were founded by foreign oligarchs and dictators to ensure computerized ballot-stuffing and vote manipulation to whatever level was needed to make certain Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez never lost another election," the suit said.

The filing went on to suggest the tabulator software somehow helped swing the election to Biden, noting that Wayne County, where Detroit is located, uses the same tabulators as Antrim County, where there was a problem with results caused by human error. But the problem in Antrim County was identified and corrected.

In its response, Detroit called claims about ballot tabulators "perhaps the most baseless of plaintiffs’ allegations." The city added that Republicans were trying to use isolated and identified problems in Antrim County and Rochester Hills to question Detroit's results without proof connecting the city to the others.

"The warped logic: because there was an isolated error in Antrim County which uses the same software as Wayne County, and an isolated error in Rochester Hills, which does not use the same software, the votes in Detroit must be thrown out," the city's response contended.

Detroit's filing also noted that many of the claims and statistics cited in Powell's Michigan suit have been debunked or rejected in other court cases, including one in which a Wayne County judge labeled some of the allegations "not credible."

Mellissa Carone, a contractor for Dominion who worked at TCF Center on election night, comes up in the Detroit response. She claimed that thousands of ballots were counted twice. She has appeared at two committee meetings held by the Michigan lawmakers this week, including a Wednesday hearing with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney.

"It is understandable that inexperienced challengers and Ms. Carone (who is a service contractor with no election experience) might not understand that there are safeguards in place to prevent double counting of ballots in this way, but that does not excuse Plaintiffs’ 'experts,' who choose to rely on these false claims," Detroit's lawyers wrote.

Detroit's attorneys also went after so-called experts who have analyzed vote totals and purported to have found evidence of fraud within them. One expert's report included data from Edison County, Michigan — a county that doesn't exist.

The analysis of another expert, Eric Quinnell, cited by Powell, "can be summarized as follows: 'it’s surprising that Joe Biden did so much better than Donald Trump in some places,'" the city's attorneys said.

"He compares results from 2016 and 2020, and when President Trump does not keep all of his 2016 voters, Dr. Quinnell interprets that to mean that more than 100% of new voters voted for President-Elect Biden," the attorneys wrote. "While academically interesting and perhaps amusing for a cocktail party analysis, there is absolutely no legal significance to his 'analysis.'"

Detroit's lawyers asked Judge Linda Parker, an appointee of President Barack Obama, to block the Republican efforts to overturn the election and require them to "pay all costs and fees incurred" by all defendants in the case.