On Telegram, it’s said, everything goes. But the same isn’t exactly true of a court-hosted hearing via Zoom.
That was a lesson learned by Lin Wood Tuesday when a motion was filed to hold him in criminal contempt for posting to Telegram a video of court proceedings after the federal judge presiding on the case had “absolutely prohibited” any recordings.
The conspiracy theorist lawyer was in federal court via Zoom Monday for sanction proceedings—that is, his own sanction hearing. Both the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit filed complaints in February and January respectively against Wood, Sidney Powell, and seven other pro-Trump lawyers who attempted to overturn election results in Michigan and other battleground states won by Joe Biden, calling for their law licenses to be revoked. On July 12, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Michigan considered the request in the sanctions hearing.
The video Lin Wood shared was that of Powell’s closing remarks to the court in which she accused the judge of conducting proceedings in a way that left the American public with “no confidence either in our election system or our judicial system” and insisted her team practiced law “with the highest standards.”
In response to the motion calling for Wood to be held in criminal contempt, Judge Parker on Thursday night gave Wood one week to explain in writing why he posted the recording. The Detroit News reported that while Judge Parker declined to consider holding Wood in criminal contempt, she will consider further disciplinary action.
So how exactly did Powell, Wood, and the rest of their team find themselves in sanction hearings?
A week after the election was called in favor of Biden, Sidney Powell threatened to “unleash the kraken”—a reference to a mythical octopus-like monster—in a multipronged onslaught on the court system to keep Trump in power. Powell and her team filed lawsuits in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan alleging voter fraud. On Nov. 25, Powell’s “Kraken” team filed a lawsuit in the names of six Michigan residents, led by Timothy King, against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson seeking to grant Michigan’s electoral votes to then-President Donald Trump.
That case, King v. Whitmer, was dismissed by Judge Parker on Dec. 7, 2020. That outcome was one that the pro-Trump team saw over and over again in the suits they filed across the country—they have yet to win a lawsuit in their quest to overturn the election—but the consequences of their efforts linger in an ongoing movement based on the false narrative of a stolen election.
In their complaints calling for sanctions against the pro-Trump lawyers, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, and David Fink, an attorney for Detroit, said the “Kraken” team’s lawsuit against the state was based on falsehoods, adding that the pro-Trump lawyers undermined faith in the electoral process with their unhinged conspiracy theories and were in part to blame for the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The state argued that lawyers have a responsibility to ensure the veracity of the information they present, and many of the affidavits submitted by the pro-Trump team alleging voter fraud were quickly and easily debunked.
Powell was a Trump campaign attorney until the Trump team cut ties after her outlandish conspiracy theories—such as her allegations that the Venezuelan government was somehow involved in a U.S. vote-flipping operation—drew ridicule across media platforms. In the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, both Wood and Powell spoke at so-called “Stop the Steal” rallies, organized by far-right activist Ali Alexander to promote baseless claims about the election. The duo’s embrace of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory gave them celebrity status within the QAnon movement. Along with fellow QAnon conspiracy theorist Michael Flynn, Wood called for Trump to declare martial law in December, and after the failed insurrection, he called for then-Vice President Mike Pence to be put to death by firing squad and doxxed Georgia officials involved in a disciplinary case against him. Both Wood and Powell were banned from major media platforms including Twitter shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, and Wood has found a home and following on Telegram.
Read Right Wing Watch’s deep-dive: “The ‘Kraken’ Lawyer: How Veteran Litigator Sidney Powell Became a QAnon Heroine”
As the sanctions hearing closed Monday, Wood took to his Telegram account, sharing with his more than 840,000 followers a video of Powell’s closing remarks in which she attacked the judge. In his post, Wood claimed that the hearing itself was propaganda, adding, “I thought I was attending a hearing in Venezuela or Communist China.”
Shortly thereafter, Wood deleted the post—apparently at his counsel’s direction—claiming he did not record the video but had shared another channel’s recording of Powell’s comments. He added: “Did the court really think the public would not record the public hearing when the court made it available online to the public???”
Cleanup on Aisle Lin Wood.
Wood deletes his post sharing a video snippet from the hearing, with this message. pic.twitter.com/pDZT3YUSd0
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) July 12, 2021
The court filing submitted Tuesday by Robert Davis, whom The Detroit Free Press identified as “a Detroit activist involved in the underlying Powell lawsuit,” and his attorney, Andrew Paterson, asks the federal judge on the case whether Wood should be held in criminal contempt for the Telegram post, citing local federal court rules that prohibit “the recording or broadcasting of Judicial Proceedings by radio or television or other means.”
As reported by Law & Crime, Judge Parker “absolutely prohibited” any recordings at the beginning of the hearing on Zoom.
Nevertheless, Wood called it “a planned attack.”
“Are you getting a good feel,” Wood asked in his Telegram post, “for how the enemy manufactures attacks in an effort to discredit attorneys who support President Trump and who have lawfully raised issues about the legality of the November 2020 election? Do you see how the enemy abuses its right of free speech by publishing false accusations against an individual and then turns around and seeks to suppress the right of free speech of the falsely accused by efforts to prevent a response to the false attacks?”
“Welcome to Communist America,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, Monday’s 6-hour hearing about whether the pro-Trump lawyers should face sanctions for their actions in King v. Michigan was contentious. “The court is concerned that these affidavits were submitted in bad faith,” Judge Parker told Wood, Powell, and the seven other co-defendants, before questioning what the team did to verify the sworn affidavits they had submitted in their suit to overturn the election and the identity of those who had written them. “My concern is that counsel here has submitted affidavits to suggest and make the public believe that there was something wrong with the election.” As reported by the Detroit Free Press, “The lawyers largely could not say they spoke with the people who provided the affidavits.”
Despite his performative support for Powell in his Telegram post, Wood, also tried to distance himself from the Michigan case filed by Powell’s team, stating, “I played absolutely no role in the drafting of the complaint.” Law & Crime reported that Powell told the court that Wood’s name would not have been added without authorization but that perhaps there was a misunderstanding.
Wood and Powell’s sanction proceedings are not the first related to pro-Trump attorneys’ efforts to keep former President Trump in office. In the past month, both New York and Washington, D.C., suspended the law licenses of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
Parker gave the lawyers involved in the case 14 days to file supplemental briefs.