Amid personal turmoil, libel lawyer Lin Wood goes on the attack for Trump

L. Lin Wood fires up supporters during a "Stop the Steal" rally in Alpharetta earlier this month. During the speech, the Atlanta lawyer implored the crowd to put their fortunes, their honor and, if necessary, their lives on the line to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from taking office. (Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

L. Lin Wood fires up supporters during a "Stop the Steal" rally in Alpharetta earlier this month. During the speech, the Atlanta lawyer implored the crowd to put their fortunes, their honor and, if necessary, their lives on the line to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from taking office. (Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Blond hair spilling out of his red Make America Great Again hat, dressed in a long overcoat and a bright red tie, he paced the stage, voicing the grievances that drew more than 1,000 people to a suburban Atlanta park on a chilly December afternoon.

The 2020 presidential election, he said, was rigged. By Democrats. By China’s communist government. By the company that manufactured Georgia’s voting machines and the state officials who purchased them.

It was time, L. Lin Wood said, for a revolution.

“It’s 1776 in America again,” Wood said, his voice rising above the crowd’s swelling cheers. “You’re not going to take our freedom. We’re going to fight for our liberty. We’re going to send that message today, and we’re going to send it all the way to Beijing, China!

“This is America!”

To Wood, it is President Donald Trump’s America, and he is willing to take drastic measures to keep it that way. Transforming himself into Trump’s doppelgänger for a rally at Alpharetta’s Wills Park on Dec. 2, the Atlanta lawyer implored the crowd to put their fortunes, their honor and, if necessary, their lives on the line to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from taking office.

Wood is famous for representing people who feel maligned and disrespected by the government, by the media, by America’s corporate and political elite. He sued news organizations for libel on behalf of Richard Jewell, the initial suspect in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996. He represented JonBenet Ramsey’s brother and sued Elon Musk. He raised money to defend and post bail for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged last summer with killing two Black Lives Matter protesters in Wisconsin. He obtained settlements this year from CNN and The Washington Post for their reporting on Nicholas Sandmann, a Kentucky teenager in a MAGA hat whose encounter with a Native American activist in Washington went viral in an out-of-context video.

Now, with his voice among the loudest claiming widespread fraud in the presidential election, Wood is spreading the kind of allegations he so often sues others over.

Supporters listen to speakers during the "Stop the Steal" rally with L. Lin Wood in Alpharetta earlier this month. (Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

Citing no evidence, he accuses state officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp, of taking bribes to keep Trump from winning Georgia. He claims Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stole votes from Trump. And he spreads conspiracy theories that connect purported election fraud to a traffic accident that killed a 20-year-old worker on U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign who dated one of Kemp’s daughters.

Wood, 68, pivoted from defender to accuser during a tumultuous time in his personal and professional lives.

Wood is estranged from his adult children and his grandchild, according to court filings, and he has suggested he alienated his family when he embraced Christianity two years ago.

At the same time, Wood is fighting a lawsuit in which three former colleagues say he cheated them out of legal fees and engaged in threatening, erratic behavior. He denies the lawsuit’s claims.

Nevertheless, the former colleagues’ depiction of Wood has been reinforced by what some see as a literal call to arms to keep Trump in the White House. In the early morning hours on Monday, he urged his more than 800,000 Twitter followers to stockpile water, food, flashlights, candles — and “2nd Amendment supplies.”

“American patriots, be prepared,” Wood wrote a few hours later. “Events will unfold quickly over next several days. Listen to @realDonaldTrump.”

Wood’s talk about revolution and his spreading of conspiracy theories is “at best reckless,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning watchdog group. “It’s scary because it ratchets up the temperature and makes a flash point more likely.”

Carusone said Wood’s followers may think they can count on legal help if they engage in violence to show their displeasure with the election results.

“They’re lining up behind his worldview right now,” Carusone said. “He’s the one who’s telling the story.”

In an interview, Wood said he is waging a fight that is bigger than politics. He considers the real battle to be against China, which he said intended to take over the United States in 2020.

“It’s the only thing that explains the past year,” Wood said. “It explains it perfectly.”

The Chinese government, he said, has infiltrated American politics, the judiciary, business. It controls the Panama and Suez canals, he said, and wants to occupy the United States to produce enough food for its growing population.

“I’m not an alarmist, and I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” he said. “But I know what’s about to happen. It’s going to look like a civil war, but it’s going to be a revolutionary war.”

Then he posed a question that seemed only partly rhetorical.

“Do you think I’m crazy?”

‘Truth and justice’

Richard Jewell changed Wood’s career — and, Wood says, his life.

Wood began his law practice with a focus on medical malpractice cases, first in Macon and later in Atlanta. Then Jewell came to his office in 1996. News reports had identified Jewell as the FBI’s top suspect in the Olympic Park bombing, which killed two people, injured more than 100 and terrorized Atlanta during its moment in the global spotlight.

“I felt he had a good soul,” Wood told students at Mercer University’s law school, his alma mater, in January, “and he was a good man, and he needed help. I said, ‘I’ll give it to you, Richard.’”

Richard Jewell is swamped by the media in Atlanta upon arriving at his Buford Highway apartment after being interviewed at FBI headquarters on July 30, 1996. L. Lin Wood, who represented Jewell, recently said of Jewell, "I wasn’t going to turn the lights out on my client, even after he was dead, until I did what I told him I was going to do, which was get truth and justice for him.” (Cox Staff Photo/Greg Lovett)

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After federal authorities cleared Jewell, Wood negotiated payments from CNN, ABC and NBC. Jewell died in 2007, and his lawsuit against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was dismissed in 2011 when the Georgia Court of Appeals concluded the newspaper’s reporting on the FBI’s suspicions about Jewell was substantially true at the time of publication.

“I practiced law for Richard Jewell for 16 years,” Wood told the law students. “Five years after his death, I was still down at the courthouse fighting a battle I probably knew I was never going to win, but I was not going to stop. I wasn’t going to turn the lights out on my client, even after he was dead, until I did what I told him I was going to do, which was get truth and justice for him.”

Wood’s voice broke as he talked about Jewell, one of several times he teared up that day at Mercer. He had recently completed a difficult trial in Los Angeles in a case alleging Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX founder, had defamed Wood’s client, a British cave diver who helped rescue a boys’ soccer team trapped underground in Thailand. Wood gave an emotional closing statement, lamenting his client’s estrangement from his family, which seemed to mirror his own family issues. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict in Musk’s favor.

Wood later said the trial left him emotionally and physically exhausted.

Around this time, his then-colleagues would later say, Wood changed. He always had been demanding, they said in court documents, but by late 2019, his behavior had become “increasingly erratic, hostile, abusive and threatening.”


In 2018, Wood experienced an epiphany.

“I found God and Jesus at age 66,” he said in a March 2020 email contained in court files. “I am not unmindful,” he added, “that the realization that God is real changed me and my life in profound ways.”

Three lawyers who practiced with Wood saw his conversion differently.

The lawyers — Nicole Wade, Taylor Wilson and Jonathan Grunberg — sued Wood in September, alleging he defrauded them by withholding legal fees they had earned before they left Wood’s firm. Their lawyer, Andrew Beal, did not respond to a request for comment.

Wood denies the lawsuit’s allegations. In a statement after the case was filed, he said the court documents quoted “out-of-context private messages I sent to them in the midst of a difficult time in my personal life arising primarily from my family’s reaction to my faith in Jesus Christ.”

L. Lin Wood said in an interview that he is waging a fight that is bigger than politics. He considers the real battle to be against China, which he said intended to take over the United States in 2020. (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

“The publicly filed complaint,” Wood said in an affidavit filed in Fulton County Superior Court, “was littered with false statements and completely irrelevant factual allegations taken out of context and edited to create a false impression of what had transpired in the past.”

The lawsuit details a series of telephone calls, voice mails, text messages and emails, many of which threatened to “destroy” the lawyers and, they contend, their families.

On Feb. 10, about three weeks after his speech at Mercer, Wood called his colleagues around 1 a.m., begging them to come to his house on a matter of “life or death,” according to court papers. Two of the lawyers say they sat with Wood until almost dawn.

The following day, Wood fired all three lawyers by email — and, hours later, left them voice messages rescinding the terminations. Then, in a lengthy conference call with two of the lawyers, Wood referred to himself as “Lin almighty” and threatened both of them, the lawyers allege.

“Maybe I would fight till you damn die,” they quoted Wood as saying. “Or both of us died.”

On Feb. 14, Wood evicted the lawyers from his offices in midtown Atlanta and had the locks changed. In an email, according to court records, he threatened to unleash “a fiery judgment against you on Earth.”

“You were screwing around with me, but I was someone else in disguise,” Wood wrote. “You in fact have been screwing around with God almighty.”

A day later, Wood asked one of the lawyers to make amends.

“Save your child,” he wrote in an email, according to court records. “Save your wife. Save your life.”

In an email to the Journal-Constitution this week, Wood declined to comment on the lawsuit. “I am at a disadvantage because plaintiffs sought and obtained a gag order which prevents me from publicly responding to their false accusations. I am presently appealing that order, as I believe the order is unlawful and violates my right of free speech.”

In the email, Wood also declined to discuss family issues. “As far as (how) my religious faith impacts my relationship with others,” he wrote, “I am informed by Luke 12:51-52, where Jesus made clear that He came to Earth to create division between believers and non-believers.”

‘No coincidences’

Shortly after Election Day, Wood said, he learned that Raffensperger, the secretary of state, had changed procedures for verifying absentee ballots last March to settle a legal dispute with the Georgia Democratic Party. Wood filed suit in federal court, listing himself as the plaintiff and claiming the election results were invalid because Raffensperger had acted without legislative approval.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying Wood lacked the legal standing to challenge the election and had not presented evidence of irregularities that affected more than a handful of votes. After an appeals court upheld the dismissal, Wood petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case — a long shot, considering the court has already declined to consider other election-related lawsuits from around the country.

“I'm not an alarmist, and I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But I know what's about to happen. It's going to look like a civil war, but it's going to be a revolutionary war."

- Lin Wood

In the weeks since he filed the lawsuit, Wood has spread increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories, especially on Twitter, where he added about 600,000 followers this fall.

He says “hard evidence” shows that China’s Communist Party is a financial backer of Dominion Voting Systems, which made Georgia’s voting machines. But he has not shared any evidence publicly, and Dominion denies any ties to China or other foreign governments.

He says Kemp, Raffensperger, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and other state officials accepted bribes and are headed to prison. “Listen carefully, Governor Kemp,” Wood said at the Alpharetta rally. “Brian Kemp, I state as a matter of fact that you’re a criminal, that you took money from Dominion, you took money from China.”

He says “masterminds” rigged voting so Loeffler would beat U.S. Rep Doug Collins for a spot in the Senate runoff.

He says “a day of judgment is coming” for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and that Chief Justice John Roberts is “corrupt & should resign immediately.”

And he gives oxygen to unfounded claims that Harrison Deal, the 20-year-old Loeffler campaign aide, was murdered to dissuade Kemp from intervening in the election to help Trump.

“There are no coincidences,” Wood wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “I want to know TRUTH about the tragic death of Harrison Deal.”

Wood almost seems to be daring the targets of his allegations to sue him, to pursue him with the same kind of defamation claim that he has pressed against so many others over the past quarter-century. But he said he is not worried.

“I have represented individuals and entities for 24 years who have been victims of false and defamatory accusations,” Wood said by email. “My allegations of wrongdoing by Georgia state officials are not false.”

He is not coordinating his efforts with Trump or his campaign organization, Wood said, although he has spoken to the president about the election challenges.

“President Trump knows he won a landslide victory over Biden in the presidential election,” Wood said, “and he has no intention of conceding the election.”

Wood, though, has larger concerns. At the rally in Alpharetta, he spoke with the zeal of an evangelist, predicting an epic conflict of nearly apocalyptic proportions.

“This is the battle between good and evil,” he said. “This is the battle between truth and lies. This election was a fraud on America. Donald Trump won a massive landslide victory unparalleled in the history of this country. And he’s going to stay in the White House because we, the people, voted for him and we, the people, run this country.”

He pointed at people in the crowd like a preacher directly addressing individual congregants.

“This country belongs to you. And you. And you. And you. It belongs to the people!”