AP

Wisconsin judge finds GOP election investigator in contempt

Jun 10, 2022, 9:29 AM | Updated: Jun 11, 2022, 3:12 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge on Friday found the investigator hired by Republicans to look into former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss in the battleground state in contempt because of how his office responded to open records requests related to the probe.

The ruling against the office led by Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who briefly worked for Trump, came after Gableman berated the judge and refused to answer any questions on the witness stand. Gableman had not wanted to testify, but Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington ordered him to appear.

Remington did not immediately announce a penalty in court on Friday, saying he would provide that in a written decision.

Gableman was hired a year ago by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, under pressure from Trump to investigate the former president’s loss to President Joe Biden by just under 21,000 votes in Wisconsin. The investigation has cost taxpayers about $900,000 so far.

Biden’s victory has survived two recounts, multiple lawsuits, a nonpartisan audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Only a couple of dozen people out of nearly 3.3 million voters have been charged with fraud, numbers on par with past elections.

Gableman has issued two interim reports, but his work has faced a barrage of bipartisan criticism and Vos put his work on hold this spring pending the outcome of lawsuits challenging his ability to subpoena elected officials and others who worked on elections.

American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, filed three open records lawsuits against Gableman, Vos and the Wisconsin Assembly. The group has won a series of victories before Remington and another Dane County judge after Gableman and Vos failed to produce the requested records in a timely manner.

Gableman has argued that his staff member, Zakory Niemierowicz, was the legal custodian responsible for responding to American Oversight’s requests. Gableman’s attorneys had argued that because of that, Gableman’s testimony was not needed.

That prompted Remington on Wednesday to caution Niemierowicz that he may want to hire his own attorney if Gableman’s plan was to blame him for failing to comply with court orders.

An attorney for Gableman’s office tried to delay Friday’s hearing but Gableman was forced to take the stand. Gableman refused to answer questions from the attorney representing American Oversight and testily said Remington had “abandoned his role as a neutral magistrate and is acting as an advocate.”

Remington admonished Gableman and said he shouldn’t have to instruct the former state Supreme Court justice “on the behavior I expect of you as a witness on this stand.” Gableman then demanded a personal attorney and said he wouldn’t answer further questions.

“I’m not going to be railroaded,” he said.

Gableman has publicly released, and provided to American Oversight, hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation. His attorneys have insisted that everything requested has been provided. Gableman has also said that he is exempt from retaining records and his office regularly destroys documents deemed “irrelevant or useless.”

That is contrary to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Council that found deleting such records, even by a state contractor such as Gableman, violates Wisconsin law. Gableman’s attorney, James Bopp, has argued in court filings that the record retention law does not pertain to contractors.

Remington in April, and Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn in May, both ordered Gableman to stop deleting records that may be responsive to American’s Oversight’s requests.

___

Foody reported from Chicago.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

20 hours ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

23 hours ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

1 day ago

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

3 days ago

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant served indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

4 days ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Wisconsin judge finds GOP election investigator in contempt