Judge orders Trump campaign to stop intimidating Ohio voters

Lawsuits are still pending in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

CREDIT: AP Photo
CREDIT: AP Photo

An Ohio federal judge on Friday issued a restraining order against the Donald Trump campaign, finding that Trump supporters are planning to monitor urban areas and illegally intimidate minority voters in the crucial swing state.

Cleveland-based civil rights attorney Subodh Chandra, who was observing Friday’s hearing, reported the news on Twitter.

He told ThinkProgress the judge said he plans to grant a restraining order against the Trump campaign and Trump ally Roger Stone, but not against the Ohio Republican Party because “there was insufficient evidence that the Ohio Republican Party itself was planning the voter intimidation.”

“Clearly he thought there was enough evidence about the Trump campaign,” Chandra said, adding that the order will be broad enough to apply to anyone conducting “rogue conduct” at the polls.

The case is one of four the Democratic Party filed against Trump and the GOP earlier this week — the Democratic National Committee also targeted the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona.

“It has also become clear in recent weeks that Trump has sought to advance his campaign’s goal of ‘voter suppression’ by using the loudest microphone in the nation to implore his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation at Ohio polling places,” the complaint in Ohio federal court said.

Stone, who will also be named in the restraining order, has organized people through his “Stop the Steal” super PAC to monitor polls in areas with large minority populations.

Lawyers for the DNC asked the court to rule that Trump, Stone, and the GOP are violating both the Voting Rights Act and the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, and to issue an order restraining the voter intimidation through November 8.

On Friday, the federal judge did just that, ordering both Stone and the Trump campaign to cease their planned voter suppression tactics.

The Trump campaign failed in its attempt to argue that it is an “absurd notion” for Democrats to argue that “essentially half of the electorate… is engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ to suppress voter turnout,” as the campaign argued in a motion Friday. At one point during Friday’s hearing, according to Chandra, Trump’s lawyer also tried to allege that Trump’s voter fraud message happens all the time. When the judge asked for an example, the lawyer walked back the claim.

With just a few days until the election, lawyers for the DNC are rushing to convince judges to issue similar restraining orders in the three other states with pending litigation.

In Nevada, the state GOP and the Trump campaign were ordered to appear in court Wednesday and to turn over training materials they provided to “poll watchers, poll observers, exit pollsters or any other similarly tasked individuals.” But on Thursday, the judge said he hasn’t seen evidence that Trump’s campaign is training people to intimate voters in Nevada, and said he doesn’t think a restraining order will be necessary, but he will not know for certain until he holds another hearing with Stone on Friday.