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Wisconsin judge finds GOP election investigator in contempt


MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge said on Friday that the investigator hired by Republicans to investigate former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss in the battleground state was dismissive because of the way his office responded to investigation-related open case requests.

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 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 it would provide it 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 survived two recounts, multiple lawsuits, a nonpartisan audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Only a few dozen people out of nearly 3.3 million voters were charged with fraud, figures comparable to previous elections.

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

American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, filed three open lawsuits against Gableman, Vos and the Wisconsin Assembly. The band went on a winning streak before Remington and another Dane County judge after Gableman and Vos failed to produce the requested records in a timely manner.

Gableman argued that his staffer, Zakory Niemierowicz, was the custodian responsible for responding to American Oversight’s requests. Gableman’s attorneys had argued that because of this, Gableman’s testimony was unnecessary.

That prompted Remington on Wednesday to warn Niemierowicz that he might want to hire his own attorney if Gableman’s plan was to blame him for not complying with court orders.

A lawyer in Gableman’s office tried to delay Friday’s hearing, but Gableman was forced to speak. Gableman declined to answer questions from the attorney representing American Oversight and said vehemently that Remington had “abandoned his role as a neutral magistrate and acted as a lawyer.”

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

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

Gableman released and provided American Oversight with hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation. His lawyers insisted that everything requested had been provided. Gableman also said he was excused from keeping records and that his office regularly destroyed documents deemed “irrelevant or unnecessary.”

This is contrary to a nonpartisan Legislative Council analysis that concluded that the removal of such recordings, even by a state contractor such as Gableman, violates Wisconsin law. Gableman’s attorney, James Bopp, argued in court filings that the Records Retention Act did not apply to contractors.

Remington in April and Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn in May both ordered Gableman to stop deleting recordings that might respond to American’s Oversight requests.

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Foody brought back from Chicago.

ABC News

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