Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced on Tuesday that sixteen fake electors who signed certificates falsely claiming that former President Donald Trump won Michigan in the 2020 election have been charged with multiple felonies. This marks the first-time individuals involved in the fake elector scheme have faced charges related to their actions, mirrored in various states.
Each of the sixteen individuals is facing eight felony charges, including two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of election law forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, one count of publishing a counterfeit record, and one count of conspiring to publish a counterfeit record.
Dana Nessel, the state’s Attorney General, delivered the news on Tuesday that sixteen individuals have been charged with multiple felonies for their involvement in signing fake certificates, falsely stating that Donald Trump won Michigan in the 2020 election.#DanaNessel #Trump pic.twitter.com/PLk8d1SBd0
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Among the group of fake electors from Michigan are current and former state GOP officials, a Republican National Committee member, a sitting mayor, a school board member, and Trump supporters who were plaintiffs in a frivolous lawsuit attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. In response to the scheme, Nessel released a Tuesday video stating, “This plan, aimed at rejecting the will of the voters and undermining democracy, was fraudulent and had no legal basis.”
State and Federal Probes Continue Fake Electors Investigation
Initially, Nessel, a Democrat, had referred the fake electors’ matter to federal prosecutors at the Justice Department. However, in January, she decided to reopen the state investigation. Simultaneously, DOJ special counsel Jack Smith is actively investigating the fake electors’ plat. As part of his inquiry, some fake electors have testified before his grand jury. The investigations at both the state and federal levels are ongoing as authorities seek to hold those involved accountable for their actions.
Part of the Larger Scheme
Michigan was among the seven battleground states where the Trump campaign implemented a strategy involving “fake electors” to undermine the Electoral College process and potentially disrupt Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021. On December 14, 2020, the group of 16 fake GOP electors from Michigan conveyed in Lansing. It proceeded to sign certificates falsely claiming that Trump had won the state and that they were the legitimate electors.
Their attempt to deliver the papers to the statehouse was thwarted by law enforcement, as captured in videos of the interaction. Meanwhile, the actual group of Democratic electors was conducting their meeting inside the building. Ultimately, in the 2020 election, President Joe Biden emerged as the winner in Michigan, defeating Trump by a margin of over 154,000 votes. The investigation into the fake electors’ plot sheds light on the larger scheme undertaken in several battleground states as part of a broader strategy to challenge the election’s outcome.
Unconstitutional Electoral Scheme
The Trump campaign promoted the idea of “alternate” electors, who, in their view, could potentially replace Biden’s electors during the congressional counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, thereby securing a second term for Trump. However, legal experts, including individuals within the Trump White House and campaign, widely regarded this plan as unconstitutional and potentially illegal.
Among those charged in connection with the fake electors’ scheme are former Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock, current Michigan Republican vice chair Marian Sheridan, Wyoming, Mich., Mayor Kent Vanderwood, RNC committeewoman Kathy Berden, Shelty Township clerk Stanley Grot—Grand Blanc school board member Army Facchinello and local GOP officials Mari-Ann Henry and Rose Rook. The list includes pro-Trump lawsuit plaintiffs John Haggard and Timothy King and unsuccessful GOP candidates Michele Lundgren and Clifford Frost. James Renner, Hank Choate, Mayra Rodriguez, and Ken Thompson are also charged.
Previously, CNN reported on the Trump campaign’s involvement, led by the former president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, in orchestrating efforts to present fake slates of electors in seven pivotal states, including Michigan.
Evidence Points to Trump Campaign’s Involvement
An audio recording obtained by CNN in early 2022 captured remarks from one of the now-charged fake electors in Michigan, Meshawn Maddock, claiming that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation. During a public event organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, Maddock, who was then co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, stated, “We fought to seat the electors. The former president’s campaign asked us to do that.”
The House January 6 committee uncovered evidence suggesting that former President Trump was aware of the plan and had direct discussions with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who hails from Michigan. McDaniel testified that Trump and his allies emphasized the significance of the electors’ plan, and the RNC subsequently assisted the Trump campaign in assembling the slates of GOP electors.
As federal investigators from the special counsel’s office continue their separate investigation, key witnesses have been questioned about the involvement of higher-level Trump officials in the fake electors scheme, as previously reported by CNN. The mounting evidence points to the Trump campaign’s active role in the controversial effort.
AG Responds to Allegations of Election Fraud
In a video accompanying the charges, AG Dana Nessel once again refuted claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, asserting that the election in Michigan followed the same procedures as previous modern presidential elections.
Nessel addressed the defendants’ possible beliefs in debunked myths of vote tampering or ballot dumps and their loyalty to a president who called them to action. She acknowledged that they might have thought they were fulfilling their patriotic duty. However, she stressed that none of these reasons or feelings justified violating the law and undermining the Constitution and the nation’s long-standing principles of representative government, self-determination, and governance by the people.