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The ‘Kraken’ Lawsuit Was Released And It’s Way Dumber Than You Realize

November 30, 2020
The ‘Kraken’ Lawsuit Was Released And It’s Way Dumber Than You Realize
Rudy Giuliani points to a map as he speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election, inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump, who has not been seen publicly in several days, continues to push baseless claims about election fraud and dispute the results of the 2020 United States presidential election. Also pictured, at center, is attorney Sidney Powell. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Every time you think you have a grasp of how preposterous the Trump team’s election lawsuits are, another one comes out, dumber and more conspiracy-filled than the last.

The Pennsylvania monstrosity that was submitted by Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and the Four Seasons Total Litigation supporting cast was terrible. It made, according to a federal appeals court ruling, “vague and conclusory” allegations about alleged misconduct, tried to get the court to do things that would violate the U.S. Constitution, and had, in the court’s words, “no merit.” Their case was such complete nonsense that two courts and four judges decided it was too dumb to fix.

You want that to be the bottom. You want the lawsuit that the president’s legal team lost, twice, for literally every reason it’s possible to lose the case to be the most preposterous election lawsuit we’re going to see this year. You go to bed Wednesday night hoping that it was.

And you wake up disappointed Thursday morning because while you slept Sidney Powell released the #Kraken.

Powell had been threatening to release the Kraken for the last week, which she spent “practicing law on her own” after being unpersoned by the Trump legal team following a press conference in which she spouted conspiracy theories so insane that even Giuliani’s hair dye was trying to get out of the room. It wasn’t clear what the Kraken was until it was released and we learned that it had taken the form of matching his-and-hers lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan. Lawsuits that have redefined rock bottom.

You don’t need to read far to see how truly awful these lawsuits are. Start with the simplest and most eye-catchingly obvious: Complaints in federal lawsuits have set formatting—at the top of the first page are the words “IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE ____ DISTRICT OF ____.” It’s a ritual formula, it’s hard to mess up, and every lawyer I know who practices in federal courts uses a fill-in-the-blanks template. Every lawyer except Sidney Powell, I guess—because between the two filings she managed to spell the word “district” four different ways, batting .250 on accuracy.

And things only got worse from there. Much worse.

The two lawsuits, which are very similar to each other, reiterate more or less the same meritless claims that just got Rudy et al. unceremoniously tossed out of the Third Circuit.  They seem to have been drafted by a spacebar-phobic first-year coming out the back end of a meth binge.

Consider this section of the legal background:

Or this compelling excerpt from the section titled “JURISDICTION ANDVENUE”:

ThejurisdictionoftheCourttograntdeclaratoryreliefisconferredby28U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202 and by Rule 57, Fed. R. Civ. P.

That kind of spacing problem recurs throughout. The document is practically unreadable.

But as specious the legal arguments are and as incomprehensible as the copy is, the craziest thing about the case is the substance. This complaint reads like it was drafted at the afterparty for a three-day QAnon convention. And it might have been, given that one of Powell’s more absurd “witnesses” is Ronald Watkins who, alongside his father, runs the imageboard where “Q” drops his messages. Hmmmm. The reason Watkins is part of this case is unclear. Powell is claiming him as an expert in Dominion’s voting software, but you would hope that she could find someone better—like I don’t know, someone who has worked with it maybe?

The basis of Watkins’s alleged expertise is the fact that he claims to have read the manual. This may come as a surprise but reading a software manual does not qualify you to testify as an expert witness in a federal courtroom.

If you can believe this, Watkins isn’t even the strangest witness. The award would go to Mystery Man Lord Tensai. Powell redacted this witness’s name from all the filings, including those sent to the defendants. The Mystery Witness proclaims that he/she/it wants  to “let the world know the truth about the corruption, manipulation, and lies being committed by a conspiracy of people and companies” that “began more than a decade ago in Venezuela and has spread to countries all over the world.” Our Mystery Witness, whom the declaration assures us is “an adult of sound mine” [sic . . . lmao] claims to have gathered the information about this conspiracy while serving on long-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’s security detail. We don’t know this person’s name, but they tell us that if we doubt the veracity of their claims, we only have to—well, see for yourself.

Ah so the Mystery Witness also has a Mystery Corroborator!

For those who are not versed in the particulars of high-stakes lawsuits of this nature, let me affirm that, no, you cannot hide the identity of your star witness from the people you’re suing. And no, you cannot hide the identity of the people who will vouch for the veracity of your star witness.

This remains true no matter how many poorly explained diagrams with circles and lines and arrows your unnamed experts use in their declarations.

This is especially the case when the claim you are making is as bonkers (that’s a term of art) an expert declaration as this: “Iranian APT teams were seen using ACUTENIX, a website scanning software, to find vulnerabilities within Election company websites, confirmed to be used by the Iranian APT teams buy [sic . . . I think?] seized cloud storage that I had personally captured and reported to higher authorities.”

This is all batshit crazy. It is as stupid an elections lawsuit as I’ve ever seen. And there’s no guarantee that it’s the worst case we’re going to see, because even though their legal arguments are being dismissed with extreme prejudice, when it comes to the political/propaganda aims of the litigants—this stuff works. Once the true believers are on board, it’s hard to get them off.

The complaints that Sidney Powell filed in these two cases are full of so many misspellings and missing spaces that they’d drive a proofreader to drink. The faithful think that’s nine-dimensional chess, intended to distract the media from the quality of the allegations.

If the faithful aren’t going to be scared away by a complaint that was drafted by someone who clearly thinks that the spacebar is an optional extra, they’re not going to be scared away when the case is inevitably dismissed by an “activist judge.”

The Kraken is the stupidest election fraud lawsuit in history today. But who knows what next week will bring.

Mike Dunford

Mike Dunford is a lawyer and intellectual property researcher at Queen Mary University of London, where he focuses on issues related to copyright and online communities. The views expressed here are his own. Twitter: @questauthority.