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Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood fired by teen who faced off with Native American in viral video

Reuters logo Reuters 1/25/2021 By Jan Wolfe
a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: FILE PHOTO: Republican National Convention © Reuters/Republican National Convention FILE PHOTO: Republican National Convention

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Kentucky teenager whose 2019 face-off with a Native American activist in Washington went viral has fired his lawyer, a man who played a key role in Donald Trump's attempts to overturn his election defeat, according to court notices filed on Monday.

The teen, Nicholas Sandmann, terminated lawyer L. Lin Wood from the team representing him in a series of lawsuits that accuse media companies like The New York Times Inc and CBS News Inc of inaccurately portraying the stand-off at the Lincoln Memorial on the day of a large anti-abortion protest.

"I have ended my lawyer-client relationship with Mr. Wood and no longer wish to be represented by him," Sandmann said in an affidavit included in the court filings.

Sandmann continues to be represented by Kentucky-based lawyer Todd McMurtry.

Wood did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement shared on the Telegram app on Sunday, Wood said he expected Sandmann would "abandon" him because of earlier social media posts in which Wood suggested former Vice President Mike Pence engaged in "treason" and could "face execution by firing squad" for formally recognizing the election victory of President Joe Biden.

Wood said in the Telegram post that his comments about Pence were "rhetorical hyperbole."

Sandmann, 18, expressed alarm at Wood's comments earlier this month. On Twitter, the teen shared one of Wood's social media posts about Pence and wrote: "I'm sorry but what the hell."


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The move is the latest indication that those who supported former President Donald Trump's baseless claim that his loss to Biden was the result of mass fraud could face longer term professional consequences.

A Delaware state judge this month blocked Wood from representing former Trump adviser Carter Page in a defamation lawsuit, saying that his conduct in election-related lawsuits "exhibited a toxic stew of mendacity, prevarication and surprising incompetence."

Sandmann's face-off with Native American activist Nathan Phillips in January 2019 was captured on video and shared on social media, generating widespread media coverage.

Sandmann's family has lawsuits pending against the New York Times, CBS, ABC News Inc, Rolling Stone LLC, and others. Reuters is not a defendant in the litigation.

The lawsuits alleged that because Sandmann wore a hat emblazoned with Trump's 'Make American Great Again' slogan, media outlets inaccurately suggested he was the face of an unruly mob.

In court filings, the media outlets have denied defaming Sandmann in their coverage.

Sandmann settled similar lawsuits against CNN and the Washington Post last year for undisclosed amounts.

Sandmann spoke at the Republican National Convention in August, endorsing Trump and accusing the media of advancing an "anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative."

The teen's relationship with Wood appeared to sour as the attorney filed unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn Biden's victory and baselessly accused Pence and Supreme Court Justice John Roberts of treason and corruption.

Separately on Monday, a U.S. voting machine company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of defamation in what it called his "big lie" campaign about widespread fraud in the presidential election.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone and Rosalba O'Brien)

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