How Lin Wooden Turned a Professional-Trump Conspiracy Theorist

L. Lin Wooden had a message from God to ship.

“Don’t imagine the media. They’re liars,” the superstar defamation lawyer declared in October at a gathering of evangelicals in Atlanta.

Then he vowed, “We’re going to take them down,” bringing the gang to its ft.

Mr. Wooden’s speech to a packed ballroom on the Religion and Freedom Coalition’s annual convention was a preview of the function he would quickly play as one of the relentless promoters of President Trump’s conspiracy theories and baseless claims about election fraud.

It’s a flip that has stunned many former associates of the theatrical lawyer, whom Dan Relatively as soon as described as “the legal professional for the damned” for his roster of high-profile purchasers like Richard A. Jewell, who was wrongly suspected of setting off a bomb on the Atlanta Olympics, and the dad and mom of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old whose homicide turned a tabloid frenzy.

However Mr. Wooden has reinvented himself into an excessive Trump advocate, one who has discovered fame amongst Mr. Trump’s supporters not as a result of he’s good at notching victories for the president, however as a result of he’ll amplify Mr. Trump’s wildest accusations and dive head first into the tradition wars.

Mr. Wooden’s lawsuits searching for to undo the election in Georgia and to ask the Supreme Courtroom to overturn votes in different key states have been soundly rejected by judges and riddled with errors, together with a misspelling of his personal identify.

Nonetheless, many Republicans have grown nervous that Mr. Wooden is harming the get together’s possibilities of holding the Senate. His repeated suggestion that individuals ought to sit out the Georgia runoff elections to punish Republicans who weren’t sufficiently supportive of Mr. Trump led Newt Gingrich to sentence Mr. Wooden as “completely damaging.” The editor of Nationwide Evaluation described him as “an exceptionally gifted demagogue.”

Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Religion and Freedom Coalition and a veteran of Georgia politics, mentioned that management of the Senate was too necessary to squander.

“I like Lin. I feel he’s a really good man and a first-class litigator,” Mr. Reed mentioned. “However the stakes of the Senate races are too excessive to make use of them as a platform to precise outrage concerning the outcomes of the presidential election.”

Former colleagues described Mr. Wooden as somebody who shares many traits with Mr. Trump. He claims to detest the mainstream media however has used it successfully to construct his model. He intimidates adversaries with lawsuits. And he thrives on stunning these round him.

Mr. Wooden’s latest purchasers have included extremely polarizing figures like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who helps the QAnon hoax and was not too long ago elected to Congress; Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who brandished weapons at demonstrators exterior their home; and Kyle Rittenhouse, {the teenager} charged with fatally taking pictures two protesters in Kenosha, Wis. He’s additionally representing Nicholas Sandmann, a pupil whose encounter with a Native American protester made nationwide information, in his libel go well with towards The New York Occasions.

Earlier than the previous nationwide safety adviser Michael T. Flynn raised the likelihood with Mr. Trump of declaring martial legislation, the notion of enlisting the army to supervise a do-over of the election was an concept that Mr. Wooden had floated in interviews with right-wing media.

Authorized specialists mentioned Mr. Wooden, who’s properly conscious of what the legislation says about defamation and libel, seems to be betting that the targets of his most baseless claims received’t sue him as a result of he’s protected by the First Modification they usually don’t need the trouble. He has insinuated, as an example, that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. could have related to the now-deceased convicted intercourse offender Jeffrey Epstein.

And at a rally this month in Atlanta, the place Mr. Wooden appeared alongside Mr. Flynn and one other pro-Trump lawyer recognized for pushing conspiracy theories, Sidney Powell, he accused Gov. Brian Kemp of corruption and led the gang in chants of “Lock him up!”

His antics have earned him an viewers with Mr. Trump. Mr. Wooden mentioned in an e-mail that they’d spoken about “fraud and illegality” within the election on a couple of event, although he’s not an official member of the president’s authorized staff.

Legal professionals who’ve labored with Mr. Wooden, 68, described him as animated and aggressive inside and out of doors the courtroom — somebody recognized for displaying up uninvited to the information conferences of his opponents and belittling witnesses in depositions.

However few who know him professionally mentioned they anticipated him to descend into the miasmic swamp of right-wing conspiracy theories.

“The Lin Wooden I see right this moment bears mainly no resemblance to the Lin Wooden I knew again then,” mentioned Timothy Terrell, a legislation professor at Emory.

Mr. Wooden’s largest break got here in 1996 when he represented Mr. Jewell, a safety guard wrongly suspected of planting a pipe bomb in Atlanta in the course of the Summer time Olympics that killed one particular person and injured greater than 100 others.

For the following 20 years, he constructed a status as a pit bull plaintiff’s lawyer who sued the information media for a pantheon of aggrieved purchasers. He represented John and Patsy Ramsey of their battle to clear their names of their daughter’s killing and the previous congressman Gary Condit after the demise of his intern Chandra Levy.

Although the defamation instances had been headline-grabbing, his extra profitable authorized work has been in areas like medical fraud and malpractice.

James Rawls, an Atlanta-based lawyer who helped Mr. Wooden with among the Ramsey household issues, mentioned working with him was simple “once we had been all on the identical staff.” However their relationship turned untenable, Mr. Rawls mentioned, as a result of his agency, Powell Goldstein, had a big follow defending media firms and Mr. Wooden was unwilling to cease attacking the media.

Mr. Wooden was raised in Macon and skilled tragedy as an adolescent, returning dwelling sooner or later to find that his father — an abusive alcoholic — had crushed his mom to demise. Watching the homicide trial that adopted impressed him to change into a lawyer.

His skilled life has been messy. His former legislation companions are suing him for unpaid compensation, alleging that he displayed weird, messianic habits. They declare that he referred to himself as “Almighty Lin” and indicated that, in response to a “prophecy” he noticed on YouTube, he anticipated to be named chief justice of america.

“I’ve assessed my psychological well being,” he wrote in an e-mail to his companions that’s cited within the go well with. “I’m a little bit loopy, however I’m additionally primarily sane and possess a wholesome thoughts.”

Mr. Wooden contends that the go well with is “plagued by false statements and utterly irrelevant factual allegations.”

After his speech on the Religion and Freedom occasion, Mr. Wooden returned to his seat on the dais and his date, the Fox Information host Jeanine Pirro, jumped as much as hug him.

Mr. Reed, the M.C., raised his voice to be heard over the applause.

“Thanks for bringing the thunder, Lin,” Mr. Reed mentioned.

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