J. Christian Adams — a former member of President Trump’s voter fraud commission who has been sued for defamation for his reports claiming mass fraud — will have to sit for another deposition in the case, after a last-minute discovery dump raised new questions about how the reports came together.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis said at a hearing Friday that he was granting the plaintiffs’ request to reopen the deposition. He said the topics should be limited to the materials —some 1,000 pages of documents — that were turned over after Adams had initially been deposed. He declined Adam’s attorney’s request to narrow the deposition any farther than that, pointing to procedural rules designed to help parties avoid and deal with any disagreements within a deposition.
“That’s how the process works,” Davis sternly told Adams’ attorney, noting that the court does not have an “extrasensory” perception of what issues may arise during a deposition.
Adams and his group the Public Legal Interest Foundation were sued over reports released in 2016 and 2017 called Alien Invasion and Alien Invasion II, respectively. The reports alleged that thousands of noncitizens had been removed from Virginia’s voter rolls and included voting records, which showed the alleged noncitizens’ personal information such as addresses, birthdays and social security numbers. The lawsuit, which also alleges voter intimidation, was brought by people named in the report who were in fact citizens, as well as by the Richmond Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
To argue for reopening the deposition, the plaintiffs in a filing last week pointed to an email from a volunteer who helped Adams assemble the report. In it, the volunteer Steven Albertson referenced a 10-15 percent rate of people they identified as noncitizens who were actually citizens eventually re-instated on the rolls. Albertson said in a deposition that the source of that estimate was likely Adams — a claim Adams denies.
The plaintiffs also pointed to an email exchange — turned over the hour before the discovery deadline — that Adams had with other conservative activists including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Adams’ attorneys in a filing Wednesday suggested that the exchange was made public by the plaintiffs in an effort to “silence and smear” anti-voter fraud advocates. The filing called out TPM by name for reporting on the Thomas emails. The emails came up only briefly at Friday’s hearing. The plaintiffs, represented on Friday by Zachery Martin, defended their inclusion of the emails in their filing because in them, Adams discussed the same Voting Rights Act voter intimidation provision he is now accused of violating.