Trump-backing ‘fake electors’ charged over alleged scheme to overturn 2020 election result

US News

Sixteen Republicans who allegedly signed paperwork to falsely claim Donald Trump had won the 2020 presidential election have been criminally charged.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said there was a “coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing”.

It is the first time anyone has been charged for trying to overturn Trump‘s defeat via the political system.

The 16 people face a series of felonies, including forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, and conspiracy to commit election forgery.

The charges carry possible penalties ranging from five to 14 years in prison.

Their alleged aim was to get Congress to accept false certificates for Trump, even though Democrat Joe Biden carried the state by 154,000 votes.

The defendants met covertly in the basement of the state’s Republican Party headquarters in Michigan, Ms Nessel said.

They signed multiple certificates stating they were the “duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan”.

The group includes Marian Sheridan, the grassroots vice chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party; Meshawn Maddock, former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden; and Stanley Grot, the clerk in Shelby Township, a northern suburb of Detroit.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Pic: AP
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been investigating the group of Republicans. File pic: AP

According to the congressional committee that investigated the Capitol attack, Trump and his allies sought to overturn his November 2020 defeat by convincing Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states to name their own Trump-friendly electors or refuse to name any at all.

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” Ms Nessel said in a statement.

The “false electors” met on 14 December 2020 to cast their votes for Trump – the same day legitimate electors cast their ballots for Mr Biden.

While the fake ballots had no legal standing, Trump and his supporters used them to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to discard the actual results on 6 January 2021.

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Other authorities are also continuing to investigate efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 defeat.

On Tuesday, Trump said he had been notified by the US Justice Department that he was a target of their investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in a sign he may face criminal charges.

A Georgia prosecutor is also investigating efforts to reverse his defeat in that state.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot on 6 January 2021.

Five people died and 140 were seriously injured in the violence.

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