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Michigan's attorney general charges 16 people in fake elector scheme

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel walks to her seat before the State of the State address on Jan. 25 at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.
Al Goldis
/
AP
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel walks to her seat before the State of the State address on Jan. 25 at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

Updated July 18, 2023 at 5:27 PM ET

Michigan's attorney general has announced charges against 16 people for serving as so-called fake electors following the 2020 presidential election.

The electors signed documents falsely attesting that Donald Trump won the state in the election. Trump lost Michigan to Joe Biden.

The broader fake elector scheme is part of special counsel Jack Smith's ongoing federal investigation into Trump and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those charged in Michigan include Meshawn Maddock, a former co-chair of the state Republican Party. Each defendant faces a slew of felony charges including election law forgery.

"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," Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday.

The statement details:

These defendants are alleged to have met covertly in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters on December 14th, and signed their names to 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." These false documents were then transmitted to the United States Senate and National Archives in a coordinated effort to award the state's electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing, in place of the candidates actually elected by the people of Michigan.

The charges in Michigan came hours after Trump revealed that he received word that he's a target of a federal grand jury probe investigating his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump has called the federal investigation into his actions a "witch hunt."

Michigan was one of several states that saw pro-Trump fake electors submit letters to the federal government. Some fake electors have defended their actions by saying they were merely doing so in case Trump's challenges of the election were successful.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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NPR's Washington Desk