July 20, 2023
On Tuesday, July 18, the Michigan attorney general announced felony charges against 16 Republicans for falsely portraying themselves as electors from the state in an effort to overturn former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat there, reports The New York Times.
Each of the defendants was charged with eight felony counts, including forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery, on accusation that they had signed documents attesting falsely that they were Michigan’s “duly elected and qualified electors” for president and vice president.
“They weren’t the duly elected and qualified electors, and each of the defendants knew it,” Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said in announcing the charges. “They carried out these actions with the hope and belief that the electoral votes of Michigan’s 2020 election would be awarded to the candidate of their choosing instead of the candidate that Michigan voters actually chose.”
The charges—the first against false electors in a sprawling scheme to hand the electoral votes of swing states won by Joe Biden to Trump—add to the rapidly developing legal peril for Trump and those who helped him try to overturn the results of the election. They came the same day that Trump said federal prosecutors had told him that he is a target of their investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and other schemes he and his allies used to try to maintain power.
Those charged in Michigan included Meshawn Maddock, 55, who went on to serve for a time as the co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Maddock, who has close ties to former President Trump and is married to Matt Maddock, a state representative, accused Nessel of “a personal vendetta.”
“This is part of a national coordinated” effort to stop Trump, she added.
Wright Blake, a lawyer representing Mayra Rodriguez, 64, another elector who is a lawyer, said in an interview: “I’m very disappointed in the attorney general’s office. This is all political, obviously. If they want to charge my client, how come they didn’t charge Trump and the Trump lawyers that he sent here to discuss with the delegates what to do?”
While a similar investigation in Atlanta has pulled in witnesses from across the country and has led to legal battles with Trump, himself; thus far, the Michigan inquiry has focused on residents of the state. It is not clear whether that will remain the case.
“This remains an ongoing investigation, and our department has not ruled out potential charges against additional defendants,” Nessel said Tuesday of her inquiry.
Research contact: @nytimes