Supreme Court rejects appeals from Trump-allied ‘Kraken’ lawyers sanctioned for election lies

The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Donald Trump-allied lawyers who faced legal sanctions for promoting bogus litigation surrounding his 2020 presidential election loss.

A rejection from the nation’s highest court on Tuesday will leave in place a 2023 ruling from a federal appeals court in Michigan that upheld the sanctions against them.

Sidney Powell and Lin Wood – among a team of so-called “Kraken” attorneys who pursued bogus legal efforts to overturn Mr Trump’s loss in 2020 – faced legal consequences in federal court in 2021 for a spurious lawsuit to reject Michigan’s results.

A ruling that year from US District Judge Linda Parker stated that the attorneys’ lawsuit was based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion” and ordered them to pay more than $175,000 in sanctions to the state.

Last year, an appeals court left the ruling in place but lowered the amount owed.

The decision from the nation’s highest court on Tuesday did not include a reasoning, which is typical for orders without any noted dissents.

“It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election,” Judge Parker wrote in her ruling in 2021. “It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here.”

Last year, Ms Powell was among three former Trump-allied attorneys who pleaded guilty to crimes connected to a sprawling investigation in Georgia targeting Mr Trump and 18 others who joined an alleged criminal enterprise to illegally reject his loss in the state in 2020.

The financial fallout from lies and conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election has surged to nearly $1bn in recent months, following a $148m verdict in Rudy Giuliani’s defamation trial and a Fox News settlement with a voting machines company in a separate defamation case.

That figure does not include the mounting legal costs surrounding the hundreds of cases connected to the January 6 and the attack on the US Capitol, nor the federal and state-level criminal cases against Mr Trump and his allies for their alleged attempts to overturn 2020 election results, and other pending lawsuits from voting technology companies, law enforcement officers and members of Congress.

The Supreme Court however has not yet weighed in on a pair of major constitutional questions surrounding Mr Trump’s 2024 campaign, including whether he should be “immune” from charges connected to his attempts to overturn 2020 results, and if his failure to stop the mob on January 6 should disqualify him from office.

Justices heard oral arguments earlier this month on whether Colorado courts can remove Mr Trump from the state’s ballots under the scope of the 14th Amendment’s clause barring anyone who supported or “engaged” with insurrection from holding public office.

Mr Trump also is asking justices to block a hold a lower-court ruling that struck down his “immunity” defence from federal criminal charges surrounding his alleged obstruction of 2020’s outcome.