Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman confessed under oath Thursday that he regularly deleted emails and deactivated his email account even after he received records requests.
In testimony in a Dane County courtroom, Gableman said he deleted documents that he deemed not useful to his investigation of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, did not preserve all his notes, and deactivated an email account.
WISCONSIN 2020 ELECTION SPECIAL COUNSEL OFFICE HELD IN CONTEMPT AS SPARKS FLY IN COURT
“Did I delete documents? Yes, I did,” he told Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn, the G3 Box News reported.
Gableman’s version of events under oath appears to corroborate watchdog group American Oversight’s claims that the Office of Special Counsel he leads told its staff that he had been deleting documents he considered irrelevant to the investigation. Bailey-Rihn pressed him on whether he searched his email account for emails pertaining to requests from American Oversight.
“Do I specifically recall going back? I don’t,” Gableman said. “But I would have looked at every email account available to me.”
The judge chided him for delivering “contradicting” remarks and disparaged the work his investigation had done as “minimal.” Still, she conceded that “at this point, there’s no more documents to be gained from this,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“Today’s hearing reinforced that Wisconsin taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for a fake audit designed from the get-go to do nothing more than support President Trump’s wholly false allegations of election fraud. Any documentary evidence that might not have fit the narrative was improperly destroyed,” American Oversight senior adviser Melanie Sloan said in a statement.
Gableman is facing three open records lawsuits. In the hearing Thursday, Bailey-Rihn sought testimony to determine whether Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) should be sanctioned by the court for his oversight of records requests.
The requests came from American Oversight and were aimed at procuring documents from Gableman’s office, but Vos is the one who hired him, making him liable. Bailey-Rihn previously held Vos in contempt for not producing the records but will decide on penalties for him at a later date. Another hearing has been scheduled for July 28.
Vos hired Gableman to investigate the 2020 election in response to allegations from former President Donald Trump that the election was “rigged.”
During the first two months of his investigation, Gableman worked out of a public library in Waukesha County because he did not possess a personal computer, he testified, per the Wisconsin State Journal. In the early days of his inquiry, he also had to familiarize himself with state election laws, he conceded during testimony.
“I did not have a very sophisticated or intricate understanding,” he testified, according to the G3 Box News.
G3 Box News
Earlier this month, Gableman was held in contempt of court by a different judge in the litigation over the open records requests. Gableman had largely refrained from answering questions during a hearing in the case and was accused of peddling sexual innuendo against the judge and one of the lawyers. He was then hit with a $2,000-per-day fine until he proves he submitted all the documents requested.
Last month, his investigation was put on pause as both he and Vos continue to battle legal challenges in court. So far, he has released at least two interim reports that allege widespread election malfeasance. His reports have been rebuked by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which contends they were rife with mischaracterizations about the state’s elections processes.