A group of Michigan Republicans who signed fake documents purporting to award the state’s electoral votes to Donald Trump could be facing federal criminal charges, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday.
Speaking on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Ms Nessel said her office had been “evaluating” charges for signers of the ersatz vote certificates “for nearly a year”.
“I will say that 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,” she said.
The fake document was signed by 16 people, many of whom would have been called upon to give their state’s electoral votes to Mr Trump had he won the popular vote in Michigan on 3 November 2020.
But Mr Trump lost the state by a margin of 154,188 votes, garnering support from 2,649,852 voters, compared with the 2,804,040 who chose Joe Biden.
Yet the would-be Trump electors were not deterred by his loss, nor by the ultimate certification of the election by county canvassing boards. After being refused entry to the state capitol in Lansing, the group held a fake signing of the fake documents outside the building. The phony certificates were then forwarded to the National Archives, which rejected them and notified Michigan officials of the forgeries.
Republican would-be electors in several other swing states also submitted similar forged documents to the archives, and several Trump administration officials spoke publicly about the existence of the so-called “alternate slates” of sham electors In the days prior to the certification of Mr Biden’s electoral college win on 6 January.
Mr Trump’s supporters had hoped that the existence of the forged certificates would be sufficient cause for then-vice president Mike Pence to toss the presidential election to the House of Representatives, where the GOP held an advantage in state delegations. But Mr Pence rejected that course of action and — after a pro-Trump mob tried to stop the proceedings by storming the US Capitol — ultimately presided over the certification of Mr Biden’s victory.
Ms Nessel said her office had decided to refer the case to federal authorities because the existence of fake certificates raised the possibility of a larger scheme cooked up by Mr Trump and his GOP allies.
“In light of the fact that … we have seen … various different false slates of electors from several different states in what seems to be a coordinated effort between the Republican parties in various different states, we think this is a matter that is best investigated and potentially prosecuted by the feds,” she said.