MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) — The special investigator hired by Republicans in Wisconsin to review the 2020 election told lawmakers in March that they consider decertifying President Joe Biden’s victory, but later said in a private memo released Tuesday that such a move would be a “practice impossibility.”
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman was hired in June 2021 by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to investigate Donald Trump’s loss to Wisconsin. Vos hired Gableman under intense pressure from Trump and others who… falsely claiming the election was stolen of the former president.
Gableman Interim Reportreleased on March 1, said lawmakers should “look very closely” at decertifying Biden’s victory by withdrawing the 10 votes from the Wisconsin electoral college. Vos and other Republican leaders, backed by a wide range of legal experts, have said such a move was unconstitutional and would not be prosecuted.
It turns out that Gableman himself wrote to Vos two weeks after submitting his report that decertification was impossible.
“While decertification of the 2020 presidential election is theoretically possible, it is unprecedented and raises numerous substantial constitutional issues that are difficult to resolve. So the legal obstacles to its achievement make such an outcome practically impossible,” Gableman wrote to Vos on March 16.
Gableman went on to predict that the issue “will be stuck in court for years and will pretty much cripple the legislature in terms of all other matters and there’s no possibility anything other than a de facto full employment program for electoral lawyers will be achieved.”
The email was obtained by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight under the Wisconsin open records law and provided by the group to The Associated Press. The Washington Post first reported on the memo on Tuesday.
Vos and Gableman did not return messages requesting comment.
Gableman’s opinion, as set forth in the memo, contrasted with what he said publicly and in the decertification report. But his attorney, James Bopp, took a… similar function to Gableman when he spoke to lawmakers eight days after the memo was written, calling the decertification “pointless.”
Biden defeated Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has passed two partial recounts, multiple lawsuits, an impartial audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Even Gableman’s own report provided no evidence to undo Biden’s victory.
Gableman’s assessment has cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million. Last week two different judges have awarded lawyers for American Oversight about $260,000 in legal fees in open files they filed and won against Gableman and Vos.
Vos put the Gableman review on hold in May, pending the outcome of that and other lawsuits, including one filed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, to prevent election officials from giving private testimony to Gableman.
The conversation about decertification has not subsided in Wisconsin, fueled in large part by Trump putting pressure on Fox to do it. Vos has repeatedly said he won’t. State Representative Tim Ramthun, who is running for governor, is pushing for decertification and is supported by State Representative Janel Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly’s Election Commission.
Ramthun is circulating a resolution calling on lawmakers to withdraw the electoral votes, but he delayed its implementation for three weeks after getting only two co-sponsors.
The Trump-approved candidate for governor, co-owner of construction company Tim Michels, was out Monday night asked if he would pursue decertification?. Having previously said it wasn’t a priority, Michels said he would look at all the evidence of what happened in the 2020 election and that “everything will be put on the table”.
Former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who is close to Michels according to polls, said she would not pursue decertification because “it is constitutionally not possible”.
The primary winner will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has vetoed several GOP measures designed to make it harder to vote out of office.
Vos will be challenged in the August 9 primaries by Adam Steen, who is in favor of decertification. Trump, who will be in Wisconsin on Friday, said on Sunday that he is “seriously considering” supporting Steen in the race.