It appears that Marc E. Elias is back. The Perkins Coie lawyer was the focus of stories related to the Steele dossier and the long-denial of the Clinton campaign that it actually funded investigation. Despite such false statements by the campaign before the election, the money was found to have been paid out as a legal expense through Elias as counsel for the campaign. Elias also reportedly was present when this funding was denied to the media and to Congress. The Biden campaign enlisted Elias to lead efforts in election challenges despite that history. He is now making a curious argument in New York for a Democratic lawyer: he is alleging that thousands of votes may have been switched or changed by Dominion voting machines.
I previously wrote about Elias’ role in what many view as an effort to hide and deny the role of Clinton in the dossier, which was later discredited on many of its allegations. He was present when any connection to the Clinton campaign was denied to congressional investigators. No one was charged for making false statements in the interview. Likewise, while legal blogs have called for disbarments of Trump lawyers for making false statements, there is no call to determine if Elias should face similar scrutiny and whether, as alleged, he lied about the funding of the dossier or assisted others in making such false or misleading statements.
As discussed previously, Elias played a key role in allowing Clinton to deny any involvement in the dossier.
Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who helped devise contract.
Later, confronted with the evidence, Clinton and her campaign finally admitted that the dossier was a campaign-funded document that was pushed by Steele and others to the media.
Later Elias was mentioned in a government report in a critical meeting with John Podesta and congressional investigators: Here is the nut of the report:
“Podesta was asked in his September interview whether the Clinton campaign had a contractual agreement with Fusion GPS, and he said he was not aware of one, according to one of the sources. Sitting next to Podesta during the interview: his attorney Marc Elias, who worked for the law firm that hired Fusion GPS to continue research on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC, multiple sources said. Elias was only there in his capacity as Podesta’s attorney and not as a witness.”
It is not clear if Podesta’s denial was immediately or later formally corrected since Elias could have informed Podesta after the meeting that there was indeed such a relationship. Indeed, one would think that this issue would have been discussed before a meeting on that very subject.
There seems little interest in the statement by Podesta to investigators or Elias’ role in what Haberman denounced as lies to the media. Perkins Coie was also not apparently concerned by his role since he holds the position of “firmwide chair.” Indeed, Perkins Coie appears entirely satisfied with its firmwide chair engaging in personal and juvenile attacks when confronted on such allegations.
Now, Elias is leading election challenge efforts. One of those cases concern Democratic candidate Anthony Brindisi efforts against former Republican representative Claudia Tenney. Tenney now holds a 125-vote lead after weeks of rechecking by the 22nd Congressional District’s eight counties. Rowan Scarborough notes that Elias seems to be “taking a page out of the Donald Trump playbook” in arguing in court that “there is reason to believe that voting tabulation machines misread hundreds if not thousands of valid votes as undervotes, and that these tabulation machine errors disproportionately affected Brindisi.”
The tabulation machines are reportedly Dominion Voting machines and a spokeswoman for the Oswego County Board of Election insisted the Elias’ claims are meritless.
Scarborough noted that Elias attacked me when I raised a controversy related to district using the Dominion system where thousands of Trump votes were initially recorded for Biden. I noted in the interview that this was purely “human error” and that there is no evidence of system fraud or anything that would change the outcome of the election. Nevertheless, Elias attacked me for referencing the controversy (which was to be raised in court) as outrageous. I was not surprised by the attack given my past criticism of Elias. Somehow I think I can discuss the Democratic challenge to these machines as a legal commentator and not be accused of being a virtual holocaust denier by another law professor. Moreover, Elias’ attack on the legitimacy of the vote counts and the Dominion system will not be treated as an attack on democracy.
I am less surprised by Elias challenge to the Dominion Voting Systems as I am that he remains one of the leading lawyers enlisted by Biden and the Democratic party after the Steele dossier scandal.
Update: Elias seems more concerned with the suggestion that he has not been in the news than the allegation that he lied to reporters and stayed silent as Podesta allegedly gave false information to Congress. After engaging in in unprofessional name calling and taunts, Elias objected that I said that he was “back” in the news. He indicated that he is high profile and much in the news. He said that I must be living under a “rock” not to have seen his high media profile. I must confess that I have not seen Elias back at the center of the news, but I take his word for it. Now perhaps he can respond to the allegations of false statements as a much-in-the-news lawyer.