Pro-Trump Lawyer Lin Wood Looks to Oust South Carolina GOP Chair to Bring Party 'Back to the People'

Lin Wood, an attorney who staunchly backed Donald Trump's baseless election fraud claims, is looking to take control of South Carolina's Republican Party, a victory that would run contrary to the former president's endorsement.

Wood confirmed to Newsweek that he plans to run for chairman of the state's GOP in an effort to bring about new control of the party. The attorney, who's known for representing Richard Jewell, who was falsely suspected of setting off a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in his defamation case, recently moved to South Carolina from Georgia. He said he was "confident" there are people looking to make a change.

"I cannot predict the outcome of the campaign at this time, but I am confident that there exists a large segment of the South Carolina Republican Party who want change in the party structure to end the 'establishment' control of RINO Republicans," Wood said, referring to the "Republican in name only" acronym. "I offer them an opportunity and a voice to effectuate that change."

Wood said he decided to run after "several members" of the South Carolina Republican Party asked him to consider making a bid for the position.

Drew McKissick, the current chair of the South Carolina GOP, received 86 percent of the vote at the 2017 Republican Party State Convention, according to Cola Daily, an online news outlet in Columbia, South Carolina. As a delegate from South Carolina, he backed Trump as the party's candidate in 2016, and last month the former president threw his support behind him.

The state GOP said on February 23 that a handwritten note from Trump gave McKissick his "complete and total endorsement." McKissick praised Trump for helping to bring a "record number of people" to the GOP and for helping to drive turnout across the state.

"As a result, South Carolina has more elected Republicans across the state than we've had in more than 140 years—and in counties that haven't had Republican representation since the end of the Civil War," McKissick said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing the tremendous growth President Trump started."

In an email to The Hill, Wood criticized the Republican Party for failing to "recognize and appreciate the amazing patriots stepping up to get involved in the party." It was a "compelling reason" for his decision to run, he added.

"The People have ALL the power—not the elite cabal of the old guard leadership," the email continued. "The People of the South Carolina Republican Party will bring INTEGRITY back to the party and to the government. I trust We The People. It will be my privilege to work for The People as they pursue their goals."

lin wood trump south carolina gop
Lin Wood, center, and Mark Stephen, left, speak to the media about their client, British rescue diver Vernon Unsworth, rear, as they arrive at a federal court in Los Angeles on December 3, 2019. Apu Gomes/Getty Images

McKissick told Newsweek he "welcomes" the challenge because any South Carolina Republican "has the right to run for state chairman." He cited the successes of the state party over the past four years, including the large margin of South Carolina Republicans who turned out to vote for Trump and the reelection of Senator Lindsey Graham by double digits. Graham defeated Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in November by about 10 points.

Wood played a vocal role in Trump's election results fight and signed on to litigation that was later dismissed in court. Before the January 6 assault at the Capitol, Wood called for former Vice President Mike Pence to resign and face "execution by firing squad." He predicted that if the former vice president were arrested he would confess to being a "main participant" in the election "theft."

Jenna Ellis, one of the president's election attorneys, distanced herself from Wood's statements, but Wood stood by his belief that Pence was not friendly to the Republican Party. In a February court filing, he said he has "credible evidence" proving that Pence is a "traitor."

Wood faced pushback for comments he made about the election on social media, and last week he filed a lawsuit against members of the Georgia state bar's disciplinary board for asking him to submit to a mental health examination. Failing to comply with their request could put his law license at risk, according to Reuters.

The attorney is also the subject of an investigation spearheaded by the Georgia secretary of state's office for allegations that he voted illegally in the November election. The investigation was launched after a reporter posted an email from Wood that said he'd been living in South Carolina for months, despite voting in Georgia.

"I purchased property in South Carolina last year, and I changed my residency to South Carolina on February 1 of this year. So South Carolina is now my home," Wood told Newsweek when asked why he picked South Carolina as the place to run for GOP chair.