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Politics Georgia counties seek legal fees for 'frivolous' Trump voter-fraud lawsuit

22:32  24 february  2021
22:32  24 february  2021 Source:   cnn.com

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Two counties in Georgia are seeking to recoup attorneys' fees from former President Donald Trump and Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer stemming from their lawsuit that made "frivolous" and "baseless" claims of voter fraud in Georgia's count during the presidential election, according to court filings.

a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021 in Dalton, Georgia. © Alex Wong/Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021 in Dalton, Georgia.

DeKalb County said its legal costs to fight the "unsubstantiated and harassing claims" contained in the lawsuit amounted to $6,105.

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Cobb County is seeking $10,875 in attorney's fees, which represents "just a fraction" of the amount spent by 15 counties, the state of Georgia and other parties involved in the litigation, according to the county's motion.

The filings represent the latest legal headache for Trump, who is also under investigation by an Atlanta-area district attorney and the Secretary of State's Office in Georgia for his attempts to interfere in the election.

Trump and Shafer filed the lawsuit in December in Fulton County Superior Court against the Georgia State Election Board, the secretary of state and 15 county election supervisors.

They "continued to pursue this litigation after the election contest became moot, all without legal justification," according to the DeKalb motion, filed by attorneys on behalf of Erica Hamilton, the director of voter registration and elections for the county.

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"Petitioners apparently believed that they could file their baseless and legally deficient actions with impunity, with no regard for the costs extracted from the taxpayers' coffers or the consequences to the democratic foundations of our country," according to the brief filed by attorney Daniel White on behalf of the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration and Janine Eveler, the director of the Cobb County Elections Department.

The Georgia lawsuit was one of more than 40 failed legal challenges nationwide brought by Trump to overturn the results of the presidential election, which declared President Joe Biden the winner.

While Cobb and DeKalb are the only counties currently pursuing reimbursement of legal fees, other counties in Georgia are considering similar motions, White told CNN.

Andrew Cauthen, communications manager for DeKalb County, declined to comment on the lawsuit due to a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

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During a January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump asked him to "find" 11,780 votes, "which is one more than we have, because we won the state," according to the audio recording of the call obtained by CNN and first reported by The Washington Post. Trump alleged that the Georgia election results were off by "hundreds of thousands of votes." In response, Raffensperger maintained that Georgia had an "accurate election."

Ray Smith, an attorney for the Trump campaign in Georgia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shafer and a spokesman for Trump also did not respond to requests for comment.

Georgia recounted roughly 5 million presidential ballots for a third time in November following a request by the Trump campaign due to Biden's less than 0.5% winning margin. Raffensperger recertified the election results in December, again declaring Biden the winner, with 11,779 more votes in the state than Trump.

"We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged," Raffensperger said during a December 7 news conference at the state Capitol.

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