‘Alternate’ Trump Elector Slates a Crime of Forgery?
The Justice Department, state prosecutors, and the House Select Committee are on the case.
In the 2020 post-election craziness in which outgoing president Donald Trump tried various means to cling to power, recent reporting revealed that groups of Republicans in seven battleground states submitted slates of electors that falsely certified that Trump and not Joe Biden won their states.
The illegitimate documents were originally sent to the National Archives. American Oversight, a watchdog group, obtained the certificates submitted by Republicans in seven states won by Biden: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Only elector slates issued by Pennsylvania and New Mexico added the caveat: just in case Trump wins his court battles. The other five states boldly claimed that the signatures were of duly qualified electors.
In at least one of the documents, some signatures were not even of the official Republican electors, but rather private actors presumably Republican. That must mean that there were some honorable Republican electors who didn’t want to participate in the scheme.
CNN reported that the operation was coordinated by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who secured meeting rooms on December 14, 2020, in the seven statehouses where Republicans could work on forging the documents.
DOJ, Select Committee Investigating
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in an interview on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that the Department of Justice “received the referrals” and is investigating the fake electors.
Over at the House Select Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told the New York Times, “We want to look at the fraudulent activity…and then we want to see to what extent this was part of a comprehensive plan to overthrow the 2020 election.”
Raskin commented in a separate interview about the bogus electors: “There’s no doubt that these people were engaged in a constitutional fraud on the public and on our democracy.”
In breaking news, the Select Committee has issued subpoenas demanding testimony from 14 Republican officials who played leading roles in the Rudy Giuliani-led forging sessions, according to the Jan. 29 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer. These subpoenas couldn’t have come at a worse time for these geniuses, as the committee enters its public phase under the glare of TV cameras.
Crime-Busting in Michigan
The DOJ announcement was no doubt good news to Dana Nessel, the Democratic Attorney General from Michigan. She had been pushing the feds to pursue criminal investigations into the 16 Michigan Republicans who signed false certificates claiming to be the proper slate of electors despite Joe Biden’s 154,000 vote margin of victory in the 2020 election.
Nessel didn’t hold back when she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow:
Under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five year offense.Dana Nessel
The state of New Mexico is also handing over its investigation of fake electors to federal prosecutors. “Election laws are the foundation of our democracy and must be respected,” state Attorney General Hector Balderas told NPR.
Subverting the Will of the Voters
So why did Trumpworld push this scheme, knowing full well that Joe Biden was the certified winner in the seven states in play? Were they counting on Mike Pence, who presided over Congress on Jan. 6 to count electoral votes, to throw caution to the wind and declare forgeries official documents? As we well know, Pence passed.
Will Anyone Actually Be Prosecuted?
Every Republican whose signature is on the faked documents could be liable. The New York Times listed potential crimes as “falsifying voting documents, mail fraud or potentially a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
But, of course, the devil is in the details. The forgeries were done right out in the open and then there’s the plausible deniability of arguing that this was a “just in case” operation. Dana Nessel’s fighting spirit aside, Trump’s crime spree remains ongoing.
Look for Part II of this story in which we will examine a remedy to these shenanigans: the reform of the Electoral Count Act. Coming soon.