The retired conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice leading a Republican-ordered investigation into the state's 2020 presidential election is threatening to subpoena election officials who don't comply, but says the intent was not to overturn President Joe Biden's narrow victory in the battleground state.
"Some evidence has been produced previously that shows some election officials acted unilaterally in deciding not to follow established state law," special counsel Michael Gableman said in a video released Monday. "We will request from those officials and others with potential knowledge of unlawful actions, and will compel them if necessary to produce documents and testimony that will allow the public to gain a comprehensive understanding of how their elections were managed."
The unusual six-minute video from Gableman comes after election clerks were confused by an email his office sent last week that was flagged in multiple counties as junk and a possible security risk.
Gableman said the investigation began last week, after the Wisconsin State Assembly approved funding. Lawmakers have authorized up to $680,000 in taxpayer money, with the potential that will go up in the future. Gableman didn't specify when his office would wrap up its investigation, saying only that it would not be guided by "political timetables."
The former justice said he would release information to the public as needed through similar videos, press releases or news conferences as it became appropriate, but cautioned against letting information out too early.
"Speaking about the internal workings of an ongoing investigation is reckless and irresponsible," he said. "It can put witnesses and whistleblowers at risk of retaliation, it can do unnecessary harm to reputational interests, and it can result in relevant information and evidence being destroyed or compromised."
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Gableman said it's possible the investigation will include "vigorous and comprehensive audit" of the election if it's justified by the information gathered. He said the end goal is to present as much evidence as possible to the public to allow people to draw their own conclusions.
"If you have concerns about the election, we want to hear about them," he said. "Conversely, if you believe the election went perfectly and have evidence to prove it, we want to see it."
Gableman stressed that the investigation is not an election contest, and that investigators are not challenging the results of the 2020 election.
President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by 20,682 votes following a recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties. The recount resulted in few changes to the results reported on election night.
Former President Donald Trump and Republican allies filed several lawsuits in an effort to overturn Wisconsin's results. In each case, the courts rejected them.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission conducted a partial audit of its voting machines after the election. That audit uncovered no problems.