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Donald Trump Meets His Match

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

Detroit Super Lawyer David Fink Tells The Insider How He Beat The Lame-Duck President and His Cronies in Court


By David H. Fink



Attorny David H. Fink
Attorney David H. Fink


PART I

Florida 2000 Meets Michigan 2020


For the past six weeks, I have been engaged in the single most exciting, interesting and frustrating litigation of my 40-plus year legal career. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan entrusted me and our small law firm to fight off Donald Trump’s legal henchmen in a series of lawsuits aimed at denying President-elect Joe Biden his rightful peaceful transition to power. Representing the City of Detroit, the Detroit City Clerk and the Detroit Elections Commission, we have confronted unique challenges, as the Trump campaign and its supporters have thrown everything at us but the truth.


Abandoning conventional wisdom and ignoring established legal precedent, Trump’s lawyers were ready to make any argument that could possibly gain traction and many that could not. Every day there were new surprises, but one thing was consistent—our courts were steadfast, holding both sides to the letter of the law. My faith in the legal system has been confirmed at every stage of this battle.


On a personal note, my faith in my partners and the whole team at Fink Bressack has also been confirmed. While the Trump lawyers fought their asymmetrical warfare, filing cases in multiple courts, with constantly shifting strategies, our office met every deadline and was on top of every case, often filing multiple briefs on the same day. With tremendous support from the City of Detroit’s Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia and the retired State of Michigan Elections Director Christopher Thomas, we had access to all the resources we needed to prove our case and to disprove the strange and unpredictable stories being told by dozens of uninformed and sometimes dishonest witnesses.


The author at the Broward County Canvassing Board during the November, 2000 Florida recount
The author at the Broward County Canvassing Board during the November, 2000 Florida recount

This is not my first foray into presidential election legal battles. Twenty years ago, I participated as a Forrest Gump-like character in the Bush v Gore recount. What began as a very temporary assignment as one of three lawyers for Al Gore at the Broward County Canvassing Board became a full-time assignment, not because of my legal experience or experience with election recounts (I had handled a couple for the Mayor of Hamtramck), but because of the people who served on the Broward County Canvassing Board.


One member of that three-person board was Suzanne Gunsburger--a graduate of Detroit’s Mumford High School, while another member– Robert Rosenberg—was a 1960 graduate of Oak Park High School, my alma mater. (Rosenberg was the man with the magnifying glass seen in so many iconic photos of that recount). So, while the Republicans had a rotating cast of characters, apparently attempting to impress or intimidate the canvassing board members, the Democrats had two experienced recount attorneys and one political junkie who capitalized on an extraordinary opportunity to play Jewish geography.  


On one particularly noteworthy day, the three of us on the Democratic side of the table sat opposite then-Michigan Governor John Engler, then-New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and retired Senator Bob Dole. They were a more impressive group, but we did a better job persuading the folks on the canvassing board that the slightest imprint near Al Gore’s name constituted voter intent.


That recount, as we all know, ended abruptly when the only five voters in America who counted--five Republican appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court—decided to sacrifice their place in history and pay back their political patrons.


That experience was devastating for me personally. I had deep faith in our judicial system, and I believed in the integrity of the lifetime members of the Supreme Court. Watching the peaceful recounting of votes in Broward County, before the Supreme Court ruled, I was confident that I was witnessing the strength and fundamental fairness of our great democracy. I was wrong. What the Supreme Court did that year was the greatest disillusionment of my life (and I’ve been divorced twice).


Over the past several weeks, however, my faith in the courts has grown stronger. While President Trump flails about challenging the election results, leaving no ethical stone unturned in his quest to have the will of the people rejected, there have been few profiles in courage in the executive or legislative branches of government. But the courts, at every level, have been steadfast and consistent, applying the facts and the law correctly in dozens of cases. Even the U.S. Supreme Court, with three recent Trump appointees, has not wavered.


I’ve given some thought to the similarities and differences between these two post-election battles, and I keep thinking of the phrase sometimes credited to Mark Twain—History does not repeat itself; but it often rhymes.


This is another election in which a Republican candidate for president lost the popular vote, and clearly lost the electoral vote count as well. And this is another election in which the Republican Party seeks to use the court system to overturn the will of the people and change the rules of the game after the game has been played.


But there, the rhyming ends.


2000 was the closest election in American history, decided in unofficial results by fewer than six hundred votes in the State of Florida.


The 2020 election, in any other year, would be seen as the landslide that it was. The loser-in-chief was defeated by more than 7 million votes. The margin in the Electoral College is the same margin that Donald Trump referred to as 
“a pretty good shellacking” for Hillary Clinton when he won by that margin in 2016.


In 2000, in Florida, the Democrats followed the legally prescribed method of challenging an election result—a hand recount.


In 2020, in Michigan, where Trump was defeated by more than 154,000 votes, the Republicans knew that no recount could ever upset that massive margin of humiliation, so they chose to bring a series of phony claims to court.


In 2000, the Republicans pursued a disciplined, and transparent, rational legal strategy, filing suits in two courts—Florida state court and federal court.


In 2020, Republicans filed dozens of baseless lawsuits in multiple states.


In 2000, the fabric of our constitutional democracy was seriously torn by the Supreme Court ruling in Bush v Gore.


In 2020, our constitutional democracy has been under constant attack from a rogue president and an enabling band of Republican sycophants, but the U.S, Supreme Court and other great American courts have stood strong and protected our nation from its worst instincts.


One other important difference between 2000 and 2020. In 2000, my family stayed in Michigan when I traveled to Florida to help Al Gore. This year, I was able to stay home, and my son Nate, who was 14 years old in 2000 but who is now a partner in my law firm, worked with me every day as we vanquished the forces of evil. Not a bad gig.


Nathan Fink, US District Judge Mark Goldsmith and the author, at his son’s swearing in November, 2011
Nathan Fink, US District Judge Mark Goldsmith and the author, at his son’s swearing in November, 2011


PART II

Trump’s Legal Tsunami



Donald Trump: Making Post-Election Waves
Donald Trump: Making Post-Election Waves

The lawsuits challenging the vote count in the State of Michigan in 2020 are not like anything ever seen after a presidential election. To date, there have been at least nine lawsuits objecting to Detroit’s vote-counting procedures. Without exception, every case filed has been groundless. As bad as you might think these cases are, they are worse.


I have yet to see a shred of legitimate evidence to support the allegations of fraud or misconduct related to the vote count in Michigan. Every one of these lawsuits has raised false allegations about the way votes were counted in the City of Detroit. A few of the suits have included previously rejected legal claims about the way Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson handled absentee ballot applications. Some have also raised issues regarding a change in the unofficial results in Antrim County. And, famously, one lawsuit has raised delusional claims about the Dominion tabulating equipment cheating Trump out of votes, based upon a complex web of conspiracies, engineered in part by long-deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.


But, in the end, these cases are almost entirely based on the same set of allegations of misconduct in the tabulation of absentee ballots at Detroit’s TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall, in tribute to Mayor Albert Cobo, best known today for his openly racist housing programs). Every claim they have made regarding Detroit’s vote count is objectively invalid, either factually or legally, and in some cases both.


No election is perfect, and, as in all elections, there were some errors in the count, but not more than in most other elections. The total impact of all such errors could not possibly be more than a few hundred votes. Donald Trump lost the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, after beating Hillary Clinton by fewer than 11,000 votes in 2016. His margin of defeat this year cannot possibly be blamed on votes somehow stolen in Detroit. This year Trump actually received about 5,000 more votes in Detroit than he did in 2016. If there was a grand conspiracy to avoid counting the Trump vote in Detroit, it apparently failed.


The underlying premise of each of these lawsuits is that if the votes had been counted accurately, Trump would have received another 154,000 votes. For that to happen, Trump would have had to receive more than 65% of Detroit’s vote in 2020, a ridiculous proposition when he received a paltry 3% of Detroit’s votes in 2016.


In Michigan there is one and only one proper way to challenge the vote count—a hand recount. Tellingly, neither the Trump campaign nor any of its litigation allies has ever requested or even mentioned a recount. Voters in Michigan do not enter their votes directly into a computer; paper ballots are scanned, and those paper ballots are preserved for recounts or audits. If the Trump campaign really believed that Dominion computers were programmed with an evil algorithm to report hundreds of thousands of phantom votes for Biden, they would have demanded a recount.


They did not request a recount, because they knew that a recount would have been no more successful for them in Michigan than it was in Georgia or Wisconsin. In Georgia, after three recounts, fewer than 900 votes changed. In Wisconsin, 132 votes changed, and those changes favored Biden. Even if some votes in Michigan were not properly counted (there is no evidence of that), anyone with any experience in recounts knows that in an extreme situation a statewide recount might change hundreds of votes, but never thousands, and certainly not 154,000 votes.


Instead of pursuing a recount, Trump and his followers filed a collection of the weakest lawsuits imaginable. The suits were based upon false allegations and strange misinterpretations of Michigan law. These lawsuits were not filed by experienced, knowledgeable election lawyers. There are several well-respected election lawyers who regularly represent the Republican Party and its candidates in Michigan. I know a few of those lawyers, and I respect them. Not one of them surfaced in any of these cases.


Instead, these cases were filed by lawyers employed by or affiliated with extreme right-wing and anti-abortion organizations—the Thomas More Society and its Amistad Project, American Freedom Law Center, Great Lakes Justice Center, Salt and Light Global (parent of Great Lakes Justice Center), Validate the Vote and True the Vote. It’s hard to know if these organizations are all focused on undermining our democratic institutions or if they are primarily enjoying the fundraising opportunity this litigation provides. The news media have reported more than $250 million raised by the Trump campaign after the election. The driving force behind this fundraising is the false story that there was election fraud, and these lawsuits could overturn the reported election results.


The sloppiness of the handling of these lawsuits has been astonishing. A press release would announce that a lawsuit had been filed a day or two before it was actually filed. The Complaint in the Stoddard case (the second case filed in Wayne County) did not even attempt to identify an actual cause of action, seeking an injunction without any explanation of the legal basis for that injunction. After losing an initial motion in its case in the Michigan Court of Claims, the Trump campaign appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, but, although that appeal was filed on November 6, the proper paperwork to “perfect” the appeal (an application for leave to appeal) was not filed until November 30. At one point, the Trump campaign announced that it had filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, but it had actually been mistakenly filed in the U S. Court of Claims (a court which would never hear a state election lawsuit).


Probably the messiest filing was King v Whitmer, the “Release the Kraken” lawsuit, filed by Sidney Powell. The Complaint in that case was a mess, with misspellings and other errors. More notably, the Plaintiffs did not properly serve the Defendants until ordered to do so by the judge. Then, when they did not like an order from the trial judge, they filed a “Notice of Appeal,” identifying the wrong court. The many errors by the lawyers in King v Whitmer would have been laughable, if the relief sought in this litigation were not so serious.


Of the innumerable errors in the many lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and its allies, the one I found most amusing and revealing was the “Verification” in a lawsuit filed by Lin Wood (one of the lawyers working with Sidney Powell on King v Whitmer) in Georgia. It was supposed to say that he verified the Complaint “under penalty of perjury,” but in an apparent Freudian slip he signed the following statement:



Truer words were never spoken.



Some of the carelessness in these cases was just bad lawyering, but something uglier was also going on. Some of these errors appear to have been calculated to sow confusion and to create the illusion that legitimate legal claims were being pursued. Time and again a case would be filed, but no immediate relief would be sought. An appeal was filed, but no effort was made to expedite it. In at least three cases, lawsuits were dismissed before a court could rule, but after another false story claiming election fraud had enjoyed its news cycle.


Most of the factual and legal errors in these lawsuits were not innocent misunderstandings. If they were, the Plaintiffs and their attorneys would have corrected their errors. Instead, they continuously doubled down on their lies and never acknowledged any factual or legal corrections. As I argued in one motion, the lawsuits were never going to succeed in court, but the lawsuits themselves were the message. The very pendency of the cases and the failure of the courts to summarily dismiss them gave credence to their false narrative.


Every one of these claims undermines faith in the integrity of the 2020 election and promotes a myth intended to delegitimize the Biden presidency. The courts should never allow themselves to be used that way. For that reason, I have been a passionate advocate for sanctions against the lawyers and the plaintiffs.



To be clear, the numbers do not explain the focus on Detroit—no amount of fraud in Detroit could have changed the outcome of this election. The focus on Detroit is fueled by racism. No need to guess; the evidence is clear. Any doubt about the racist underpinnings of these claims was dispelled when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers met on November 17. The arguments against certifying the election results all related to precincts and absent voter counting boards being “out of balance.”


In any election, at the end of the count, if the total number of voters does not exactly match the number of ballots counted, the precinct or counting board is out of balance. While this is not ideal, it usually involves a relatively small number of votes. In 2020, although many of Detroit’s precincts and absent voter counting board were out of balance, the total vote discrepancy was approximately 500 votes, and, notably, there were more voters than votes, not more votes than voters. The most common reason for out of balance precincts is impatient voters who sign in, get a ballot, but leave before completing and turning in the ballot.


What does this have to do with racism? During the meeting of the Wayne County Canvassing Board, one of the Republican board members proposed that, because Detroit’s precincts and counting boards were out of balance, the vote count for predominantly African-American Detroit should not be certified. But she suggested the votes reported for all other Wayne County jurisdictions should be certified. She made this proposal, despite the fact that Livonia, a city with a population that is 95% white, which the Board member was willing to certify, had more out of balance precincts than Detroit. I have yet to hear an explanation for singling out Detroit in this way other than blatant racism.


The Trump lawyers also showed a pattern of disrespect for the judiciary. Donald Trump often describes litigation in transactional terms, driven entirely by the whims of the judge. He does not seem to know or care that the law and facts usually determine the outcome of a lawsuit; to him, all that matters is who the judge is. He is no doubt very confused about the consistent way that judges-- Republican, Democratic and nonpartisan—have ruled against his phony election claims.


The Republican lawyers in these cases clearly share Trump’s judicial philosophy, and that played out in a blatant campaign of forum shopping—trying to find a judge more likely to rule in their favor. After losing in the Court of Claims, the Trump campaign filed a new lawsuit in federal court. Trying to avoid the judges in the Eastern District of Michigan, many of whom were appointed by Democratic presidents, they filed in the Western District of Michigan .Then they tried to get the case assigned to a judge appointed by President George W. Bush, by incorrectly claiming that the case was “related” to a previous voter registration case. When that trick didn’t work, the Trump campaign eventually voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit.


In a courtroom, the facts and the law do matter, and not one of these cases had facts which created a legal right to any relief.



These nine cases were all interrelated, filed by lawyers who coordinated their efforts or copied from each other. Allegations, especially those related to activities at the TCF Center, were repeated verbatim from one lawsuit to another. Time and again, affidavits filed in one case would be appended to other cases. Entire complaints were attached as exhibits to other complaints.


More than a hundred affidavits were filed in the Michigan cases, but a few of those affidavits received most of the attention. Not surprisingly, the witnesses who got the most attention told the most extreme stories. The stories were not true, but they served the purposes of a President desperate for an excuse for his overwhelming defeat and they provided grist for the mill of phony litigation.


Jessy Jacob received more attention than other witnesses, because the media accepted the label of “whistleblower” to describe her. She was a City of Detroit employee, so, to some, her testimony had extra credence. That credence was not deserved. Ms. Jacob was not an employee of the Detroit Elections Bureau or even of the City Clerk. She was an employee with no experience related to elections, who had been furloughed from an engineering position in a different department. She was brought back to work in September, along with others, to assist with the surge of work related to the November General Election. She had a short-term position with limited responsibilities. She saw many things and understood few.


Ms. Jacob is the source of the false claim that people were allowed to vote twice, because she observed people coming to the City Clerk’s satellite offices seeking to vote absentee when they had already requested an absentee ballot. She inferred from that that some of those people would be able to vote twice. She simply did not understand that the Qualified Voter File is checked when an absentee ballot is received. If someone has already voted, the second ballot is not accepted. She is also the source of the widely believed claim that signatures were not being compared, because her supervisor would not allow her to check signatures at the TCF Center (those signatures were checked before ballots were delivered to the TCF Center).


Ms. Jacob is the most dangerous kind of witness. Her employment with the City of Detroit led many people to believe she was experienced and well-informed about election processes. In fact, she knew nothing about how votes are properly tabulated.


Mellissa Carone became famous with her off-the-wall performance at the Lansing legislative hearing orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani and her portrayal by Cecily Strong on Saturday Night Live. In reality, she has been a very important, very false witness. Ms. Carone was not an employee of the City Clerk; she was not hired as an Election Inspector; she was not even a trained volunteer challenger. She was a low-level contract worker, working for Dominion Voting Systems, with a minor maintenance job keeping the tabulating machines clean and flagging down Dominion technicians if an operator needed assistance. She knew nothing about how elections are managed or how votes are counted.


Ms. Carone’s primary claim—that stacks of ballots were repeatedly rescanned and counted multiple times—was and is patently absurd. Any such duplicate vote count would have been discovered and corrected at multiple stages of the vote counting and certification process. Her lack of knowledge does not hold her back; she is a passionate and loud advocate, who does not hide her intention to assist the Trump campaign, and her misinformed claims have gotten her plenty of public attention.

Dr. Linda Lee Tarver is one of the Plaintiffs in the direct action filed in the Michigan Supreme Court. She received more attention than others because she was employed by the Michigan Secretary of State. She actually did not witness anything at the TCF Center. But, her testimony, which you can find on YouTube, is jarring to watch. This African-American woman spews the most racist bile imaginable, claiming that Michigan’s “communities of color” cannot be trusted to count votes accurately.


Why such bad witnesses? It was not an accident that so many uninformed people signed the affidavits that drove these lawsuits. In past years, the Republican challengers, just like the Democratic challengers, operated with a hierarchy. A challenger who witnessed something of concern would report that issue to a more experienced challenger, who would then address the issue with the Election Inspectors. Through that orderly process, issues at the counting board or the precincts would be resolved.


This year, the Republicans intentionally created chaos, bringing in hundreds of untrained challengers at the last minute. Some of these untrained challengers acted out and tried to disrupt the vote count. Others simply did not understand what they were seeing and interpreted some things they did not understand as fraud or misconduct. They were wrong, but there was no hierarchy in place to correct them.


Trump and his allies wanted chaos. As soon as they saw that he was losing in Michigan, they knew they could not win a clean fight, so they chose to stop playing by the rules. We have heard from many Republican challengers that when the vote count started turning negative for Trump, they read posts on social media calling for as many Trump supporters as possible to descend on the TCF Center, and descend they did. The Republicans created the chaos they wanted, so they could question the inevitable results of the election.



The experts whose reports or declarations were submitted in these cases are literally the worst collection of experts I have seen in any civil litigation in 43 years of practice. I don’t have space here to relate all of their insanity, but I can offer some examples.


  • One expert identified nine counties in the state of Michigan which require special attention as “outliers,” because they report “numbers unusual relative to the rest of the data.” His entire analysis is based on raw totals, not percentages, and his report never notes that of the nine counties he highlights, eight are among the nine most populous counties in the state.

  • Another supposed expert reported that Biden picked up more votes than the number of new “Democratic registrations.” Apparently nobody told him that Michigan does not have party registration.

  • Another expert opined that there was vote fraud because he found that many voters submitted applications for absentee ballots and voted the same day. In fact, it is quite common in Michigan to vote absentee by going to the clerk’s office, receiving and signing an application for an absentee ballot, turning that application in and getting a ballot on the spot, which is then completed and handed back to the clerk. (That’s how I vote.)

  • Another expert claimed evidence of fraud because some people said they “returned” their ballots, but they are listed as having not voted. That expert did not consider the fact that some ballots would be lost or delayed in the mail.

  • One expert based his conclusions on the results of a “hand counted manual recount”—but, there was no such recount.

  • One particularly aggressive expert actually ran a public campaign, looking for voters who would support his theories of vote fraud. His statistical methods were shockingly unscientific, and his report was a mess. His resumé included no technical publications, but an Internet search disclosed that in 2017 he founded a literary magazine identified as a “Literary Journal of the New Nationalism,” named in honor of Otoya Yamaguchi, a right-wing ultranationalist in Japan, who murdered the chairman of the Japan Socialist Party during a televised election debate.

  • One expert claimed that the odds against Trump losing any one state, when he was so far ahead in the early vote count on election night, was “one in a quadrillion,” and the odds against him losing four states when he was so far ahead was “one in a quadrillion to the power of four.” That “expert” simply did not consider the possibility that Biden voters would be more likely than Trump voters to vote absentee.


With experts like these, who needs facts?


Fortunately, no court has been swayed by these experts, who all appear to be either incompetent, careless or dishonest.



We wrote countless briefs about these cases, but I do have a favorite. I want to share the introduction to a brief we filed in the King v Whitmer (“release the Kraken”) case, and I must credit my partner, Darryl Bressack, who wrote this section, with an assist from John Mack, one of our attorneys who is also a practicing minister (no kidding):


This is the lawsuit that one-time Trump legal team member Sidney Powell has been promising would be “biblical.” Perhaps, plaintiffs should have consulted with Proverbs 14:5, which teaches that “a faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.”
Few lawsuits breathe more lies than this one. The allegations are little more than fevered rantings of conspiracy theorists built on the work of other conspiracy theorists. Plaintiffs rely on affidavits of so-called “experts”—really confidence men who spread lie after lie under cover of academic credentials—which rely upon obviously false statistics. These “experts” use academic jargon as if that could transmute their claims from conspiracy theory to legal theory.

A reporter dug out this filing, attached it to a tweet, and, within two hours, it had been retweeted thousands of times. It’s a new world for this old man.


As I write this article, the battle is not yet over. There is still work to be done, but some things are already clear. These lawsuits should not have been filed, and the people who filed them should be sanctioned by the courts. We have filed motions for sanctions, and we will most likely be filing more, particularly if the remaining cases are not voluntarily dismissed.


The six weeks after the election have been a blur. It has been a legal marathon, run at the pace of a sprint. But it was exhilarating. I never doubted that we would win; we had fantastic support wherever we turned, and, in every instance the courts handled these unusual cases correctly.


As we seek sanctions against the plaintiffs and lawyers who filed and continue to pursue these cases, some people say we should not waste our time, that there will always be frivolous cases and we should just move on. I disagree. These are not ordinary weak cases. These cases were filed in a systematic effort to overturn the will of the people and to upend our democracy.  Filing lawsuits to challenge the results of presidential elections is not standard or normal. Not one lawsuit was filed when Trump eked out a margin of less than 11,000 votes in Michigan in 2016.

 

When there is a close election, it is perfectly appropriate for a candidate to seek a recount; it is not appropriate to file multiple lawsuits based upon phony allegations of fraud. One after another, these lawsuits made the same arguments from the same baseless claims. Repeating these lies encouraged millions of Americans to believe that the liar-in-chief had been cheated out of his rightful second term. These claims undermine our democracy, and it is just plain wrong to allow these purveyors of seditious lies to walk away with no consequences.

 

It’s nice to be involved in cases where your work is recognized and even appreciated. After one Zoom oral argument I learned that over 5,000 people had tuned in on YouTube. Unfortunately, many of those observers were responding to a QAnon announcement of the proceedings, so they weren’t all lauding my performance. I have received plenty of hate mail, but the negative feelings from those messages are far outweighed by the messages from strangers thanking us for what we do. 


After we filed our brief quoted above, one lawyer who I do not know wrote: “If I ever wrote a brief that good, I would retire. Thanks for defending democracy.”  The same brief elicited this note from another stranger: “Eat shit you fucking communists.” I guess you can’t please everyone.



PART III

My 15 Minutes of Fame

The author and Carol Bader Lowen with President-elect Joe Biden at the Detroit Athletic Club in March
The author and Carol Bader Lowen with President-elect Joe Biden at the Detroit Athletic Club in March

While my law firm litigates high-stakes cases, often on matters of public interest, we generally avoid media coverage. It has always been our philosophy that lawsuits should be tried in the courtroom, not in the press. Some of our clients prefer privacy, others want to manage their public relations with PR professionals; none of our clients want to see press releases written in legalese. So, our response to most media inquiries has been “no comment.”


That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy some publicity. It’s usually fun when friends and family read about one of our cases. But our goal is to win for our clients. If media coverage doesn’t advance our clients’ goals, we stay in our lane and leave the public comments to our clients.


These election cases have been an exception; this is an uncommon situation when it is in our clients’ interest for me to talk to the press. First, there has been significant public interest in these lawsuits, and it is difficult for some journalists (who, unlike the Editor of the Insider, do not have law degrees) to understand the context of many court filings. Second, these frivolous lawsuits have been used as public relations weapons to advance a dangerous, false narrative about the integrity of our elections. Finally, the phony story being told to the press by Trump and his minions, with a hefty dose of racism, is that the City of Detroit is a corrupt city that can’t be trusted to conduct an honest election. A responsible alternative voice was necessary, and many journalists appreciate the opportunity to speak with a frontline litigator. In this rare instance, our client’s litigation goals coincided with my selfish need for ego gratification.


It’s easy to get your name in the paper when you are in the middle of litigation seeking to overturn the election of the President of the United States. The tricky part is staying on message. So far, I’ve done that better than my first press interview as a candidate for Congress in 2002. When asked about Michigan’s then-candidate for Governor Jennifer Granholm’s mealy-mouthed response to a question about gun control, I responded “That’s a load of crap.” That was one way to get on the front page of The Detroit Free Press. Fortunately, the Energy Secretary-designee long ago forgave my transgression and included me as a member of her gubernatorial cabinet.


The press has been kind to me during the election litigation, allowing me to accurately describe the status of these cases, without (so far) any gotcha moments. Some hard-working reporters have actually reviewed our pleadings and quote from them. And, frankly, it has been fun offering sound bites that (mostly) stay on message. It’s been a wild ride, with a lot of hard work, and more support and credit than I deserve. Let’s hope the excitement and uncertainty is over; I’m happy to wait another 20 years for the next one.

P.S. The following is a healthy sampling of the press clippings. I hope you all enjoy them as much as my mother does.



"We have been meticulous in fighting to make sure everything was done right; they should be as careful as we were before bringing these unfounded claims,” said David Fink.


Fox 2 News, November 9, 2020 (see video)


“The endless cascade of last-gasp lawsuits by lame-duck President Donald Trump and his supporters form a familiar pattern: Wild claims of fraud trickle into the courts before falling apart upon scrutiny of the evidence. For Detroit, Michigan’s lawyer David Fink, that fact pattern felt reminiscent of a darker version of the Bill Murray comedy classic: ‘It’s starting to feel a little bit like Groundhog Day. But unlike Groundhog Day, this isn’t funny at all,’ Fink said.”


Law and Crime, November 11, 2020.



“David Fink, a lawyer representing the city of Detroit, welcomed Judge Kenny’s order. ‘This is the third time a court has had to dismiss Trump supporters’ completely fabricated claims of voting problems in Detroit,’ Mr. Fink said. ‘The bottom line is the election was not close—Joe Biden carried the state of Michigan by more than 145,000 votes.’”


The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2020.



“’Detroit doesn’t have a history of voter fraud,’ said David Fink, a lawyer representing Detroit in post-election litigation. ‘What it has is a history of people who don’t vote for Donald Trump.’”


The Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020.


“Supporters of President Donald Trump, whose claims of election fraud in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County were shot down by lower courts, shouldn’t get to take their ‘grab-bag of falsehoods’ before the Michigan Supreme Court, lawyers for the city argued. … ‘This lawsuit is part of a campaign in several ‘battleground’ states to sow confusion and raise doubt – where none exists – regarding the election,’ Detroit attorney David Fink wrote in court papers filed Wednesday. ‘Plaintiffs should not be allowed to use these baseless claims to manipulate the judicial system to derail the democratic process and disenfranchise the voters.’”


Bloomberg.com, November 18, 2020.




“The lawyer for Detroit, David H. Fink, asked the judge to sanction the campaign for using the filing to ‘spread disinformation,’ noting the board ‘voted to certify the election results, and there is no legal mechanism for that action to be rescinded by affidavits.’ He said the campaign's claim should be stricken from the record because it was made ‘for an improper purpose: to make a gratuitous, public statement about their purported reason for voluntary dismissal, before the court could reject their baseless claims of election fraud,’ the filing says.”


NBC News (online), November 19, 2020.



“David Fink, a lawyer for the city of Detroit in the lawsuit, told CNBC, ‘They can put whatever spin they want on it. They dismissed the case because they were going to lose.’”


CNBC, November 19, 2020.



"’It's no surprise to us that these cases are being voluntarily dismissed because every time one of their cases gets to a judge, their baseless conspiracy theories have been rejected,’ Fink said. ‘They can try to spin the reason that they're dismissing these cases. But they're dismissing these cases because they're afraid to let another judge rule on their frivolous claims.’”


The Detroit News, November 19, 2020.


“’This lawsuit dredges up baseless conspiracy theories that have been debunked and rejected every time they have been reviewed by a court. This particular suit is filed by an attorney whose claims are so detached from reality that even the Trump campaign has disavowed any association with her,’ said David Fink, lead attorney representing Detroit.”


USA Today, December 1, 2020.



“David Fink, an attorney for Detroit, asked the judge to not just reject the request but also to sanction the plaintiffs for bringing it. ‘They want to undermine our democracy,’ he said. ‘Grant significant sanctions, because this has to stop. They are trying to use this court in a very improper way.’”


The Washington Post, December 3, 2020.



“’It is difficult to know whether plaintiffs and their counsel actually believe any of the ridiculous claims they allege or whether this entire lawsuit is designed solely as a fundraising exercise, a talking point, something they can use to bolster their imaginary claims of widespread voter fraud,’ reads part of the filing, submitted by David Fink and several other attorneys representing the city.


“‘But the fact that the complaint is frivolous does not mean that this lawsuit is not dangerous to our democracy. Plaintiffs seek nothing less than a court-ordered coup d’état.’"


The Detroit Free Press, December 3, 2020.



“For pro-Trump election denialists, Fink added, filing lawsuits conveys its own destabilizing dispatch regardless of the result.


‘This case is about trying to get some traction from any court about the lies that are being told,’ Fink thundered, saying the Trump’s loyalists want to twist any victory—no matter how small—into fodder for a tweet to erode that faith in the democratic process.


Scrutinizing the subtext behind the drumbeat of pro-Trump lawsuits, Fink identified the subtext as: ‘You can’t trust Black people to count votes honestly.’


‘Tens of millions of Americans are believing the lies that are being told,’ he said.”


Law and Crime, December 3, 2020.




"They are trying to use this court in a very, very improper way," said Detroit city attorney David Fink. "We ask this court not just to deny the relief that is requested but to grant significant sanctions, because this has to stop."


ABC News (online) December 5, 2020.


After Judge Linda Parker denied the temporary injunctive relief sought by Sidney Powell:


"’It’s a good day for democracy, not such a good day for frivolous Republican lawsuits.’ said David Fink, an attorney representing the city.

‘Once again a challenge to our vote count based upon groundless conspiracy theories has been rejected in court. Every judge who has reviewed these claims brought by Donald Trump and his allies has found them for what they are — frivolous lawsuits intended to undermine faith in our democracy. It’s time for the purveyors of these dangerous lies to be sanctioned by the courts.’"


The Detroit Free Press, December 7, 2020.



“David Fink, an attorney who represents the city of Detroit, agreed the request to the Supreme Court would fail.


‘Apparently, in their zeal to advance their delusional claims, they think the court rules and laws don’t apply to them,’ Fink said in a phone interview Saturday.


‘"It’s time for all of these Republican lawyers to accept the will of the people’."


Detroit Free Press, December 12, 2020.




“But David Fink, an attorney for the City of Detroit, which intervened in the case, doesn't believe Trump's supporters will be successful. He noted Saturday that the U.S. Supreme Court has already rejected similar cases.


"’Fifty lawsuits have not found one improperly counted vote,’ Fink said. ‘Donald Trump can’t believe that he lost, but he did, and by a very large margin.’”


Detroit News, December 12, 2020.



“’It’s time for this nonsense to end,’ Detroit’s lawyer David Fink told Law&Crime in a phone interview.

‘The lawyers filing these frivolous cases that undermine democracy must pay a price,’ Fink added. “


Law and Crime, December 15, 2020.




“’These are not run-of-the-mill lawsuits and these are not minor factual and legal errors,’ said Fink in a phone interview with Forbes. ‘I don’t think lawyers who practice with such disregard for the law and the facts should be allowed to practice.’”


Forbes, December 16, 2020.




“’Plaintiffs and their counsel understood that the mere filing of a suit (no matter how frivolous) could, without any evidence, raise doubts in the minds of millions of Americans about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election,’ lawyer David Fink wrote in the motion.”


Newsweek, December 16, 2020.


David Fink is a 1974 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a 1977 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He served as Michigan’s State Employer under Governor Jennifer Granholm and was one of the first attorneys named to the Michigan Lawyers’ Hall of Fame. He has two children and five grandchildren and is proud to have attended Francis Scott Key Elementary School with the Editor of The Insider.


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