Marc Elias, the Democrat election lawyer responsible for arranging the phony Russia “dossier” on Donald Trump in 2016, is taking criticism from members of his party for risky litigation that has led to Democrats losing some of their legal weapons.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Elias, once the high-flying election lawyer for Democrats at Perkins Core, has suffered a reversal of fortune since Special Counsel John H. Durham implicated him in the “Russia collusion” hoax probe.
Elias remains one of the most important election lawyers for the party, pushing to overturn ballot integrity laws, challenging results in close races, and suing to protect Democrat redistricting maps (and fight against Republican maps) in various states.
Elias, who left Perkins Coie to start the Elias Law Group before his former colleague, Michael Sussmann, was indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI, hired the Fusion GPS opposition research firm on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up supposed dirt on Trump in Russia. The result, the Steele “dossier,” led to the “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory that led the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign and damaged the Trump presidency.
Ultimately, the conspiracy theory was found to be meritless by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Special Counsel Durham indicted Sussmann for lying about his role working for Clinton in a related effort to link Trump to Russia via Alfa Bank.
Elias, who went on to lead Democrats’ efforts to force vote-by-mail in the 2020 presidential election, apparently went on to testify at grand jury proceedings. He has tried to keep some communications from Durham by citing attorney-client privilege, claiming that Fusion GPS was hired for legal work and not for opposition research, a claim Durham contests.
The Free Beacon reports that many Democrats are souring on Elias for another reason: he is jeopardizing legal tactics that they hope to use in future elections by taking risks that result in those tactics being prohibited by the U.S. Supreme Court:
Elias challenged two ordinary voting regulations in Arizona under a provision of the Voting Rights Act that protects minority political involvement. Liberals did not want the Court to rule on the scope of that provision—they feared the conservatives would interpret it narrowly and hamstring their attacks on new red-state election laws.
The scope of that provision was an open question that liberals wanted to keep out of the Supreme Court. The conservative justices have repeatedly trimmed the reach of the Voting Rights Act, and liberals feared Elias would bring about a like result, especially since the rules he challenged were common to blue and red states alike.
The Court’s decision in Brnovich v. DNC played out exactly as liberals feared. Justice Samuel Alito delivered a 6-3 decision that upheld Arizona’s rules, announced new limits on the Voting Rights Act challenges, and in so doing put new red-state election regulations on firmer footing. Democrats saw the ruling as an unmitigated catastrophe.
The Free Beacon itself played a role in the Russia controversy, as it hired Fusion GPS to research Trump before Elias did.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.