Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks on October 16, 2022 in East Lansing, Michigan. Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
(WABNEWS) — Sixteen false voters who signed certificates falsely claiming that former President Donald Trump had won the state of Michigan in the 2020 election have been charged with multiple felonies, the US attorney general announced Tuesday. state, Dana Nessel.
This is the first time that any of the false voters has been accused of a crime related to fraud, which occurred in various versions and in several states.RELATED
The 16 individuals were charged with eight felony counts each: two counts of falsification, one count of conspiracy to commit falsification, two counts of falsification of election law, one count of conspiracy to commit falsification of election law, one count of publication of a forged record and one count of conspiracy to publish a forged record.
Michigan’s group of fake voters includes current and former state GOP officials, a member of the Republican National Committee, a sitting mayor, a school board member and Trump supporters who were the plaintiffs in a court initiative he sought to overturn. the results of 2020.
“This plan to reject the will of the voters and undermine democracy was fraudulent and legally unfounded,” Nessel said in a video posted Tuesday.
Nessel, a Democrat, initially referred the matter to federal prosecutors at the Justice Department, but reopened the state investigation in January. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is also actively investigating the false voter plot, and some of them have testified before a grand jury.
WABNEWS has contacted the defendants for comment.
Part of a greater plan
Michigan was one of seven battleground states where the Trump campaign submitted “fake voter” lists as part of its plan to undermine the Electoral College process, and potentially disrupt congressional certification of the 2020 election results on June 6. January 2021.
Michigan’s 16 fake Republican electors gathered in Lansing on December 14, 2020, and signed certificates falsely claiming that Trump had won the state and that they were the rightful electors. They were turned away by police when they tried to enter the state headquarters to deliver the documents, according to videos of that interaction, which occurred as the actual group of Democratic voters gathered inside the building. It should be remembered that President Joe Biden defeated Trump by just over 154,000 votes in the 2020 elections.
In the view of the Trump campaign, these were “alternate” electors who could have somehow substituted for Biden’s electors when Congress counted the electoral votes on January 6, 2021, granting Trump a second term. However, a wide range of legal experts, including many within the White House and the Trump campaign, thought this plan was unconstitutional and possibly illegal.
The people charged are Meshawn Maddock, former co-chairman of the Michigan Republican Party; Marian Sheridan, the current vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Kathy Berden, a member of the Republican National Committee; Kent Vanderwood, Mayor of Wyoming, Michigan; Stanley Grot, Shelby Town Clerk; Amy Facchinello, a member of the Grand Blanc school board; local Republican Party officials Rose Rook and Mary-Ann Henry; pro-Trump plaintiffs John Haggard and Timothy King; unsuccessful GOP candidates Clifford Frost and Michele Lundgren; as well as Hank Choate, James Renner, Mayra Rodríguez and Ken Thompson.
WABNEWS previously reported that Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, the former president’s attorney, oversaw attempts to produce fake voter lists in seven battleground states, including Michigan.
An audio recording obtained by WABNEWS early last year caught one of those now indicted as false Michigan voters bragging that the Trump campaign ran the entire operation.
“We fought to nominate electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do it,” Meshawn Maddock, then co-chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event organized at the time by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, according to the recording. .
The Jan. 6 House committee found evidence that Trump knew about the plan and that he discussed it directly with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who is from Michigan. She testified that Trump and his allies told her the voters’ plan was important, and that the Committee later helped the Trump campaign put together the Republican Party voter rolls.
Federal investigators with the special counsel’s office consulted key witnesses in their separate investigation into the role of top Trump officials in the fake voter scheme, according to previous WABNEWS reports.
A plan to “undermine our Constitution”
In video released Tuesday along with the charges, Nessel fired back at allegations that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, saying the election in his state “was procedurally the same as every previous modern presidential election.”
“These defendants may have believed the now long-disproved myths of vote rigging or ballot dumps,” Nessel said. “They may have felt compelled to follow the call to action of a president to whom they were loyal. They may even sincerely believe it was his patriotic duty.”
“But none of those reasons or sentiments provide a legal justification for breaking the law and calling into question our Constitution and our nation’s traditions of representative government, self-determination and rule by the people,” he added.
Nessel also said his office will continue to investigate efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and has not ruled out “possible charges against other defendants.” He also anticipated attacks that are sure to come from Trump allies, who may claim the allegations are politically motivated.
“There will be those who claim that these charges are political in nature. But when there is overwhelming evidence of guilt with respect to multiple crimes, the most political act you could engage in as a prosecutor would be to take no action,” Nessel said.