by Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen | CNN
In the weeks following the 2020 election, aides of then-President Donald Trump sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven states he actually lost. The documents had no effect on the outcome of the election, but they are yet another example of how Team Trump tried to destroy the Electoral College – a crucial line of inquiry for the January 6 committee.
According to documents obtained by American Oversight, the fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace their states’ legitimate presidential voters with pro-Trump slates. Was.
The documents bear the signatures of Trump supporters who claimed to be right-hand voters in seven states that were won by President Joe Biden. But these rogue slates of voters were not supported by any elected officials in the seven states—such as the governor or the secretary of state, who are involved in authenticating election results—and served no legitimate purpose.
The documents were first posted online in March by a government watchdog group. But they drew renewed attention this week, as the January 6 committee intensified its investigation into Trump’s coup, including how his aides tried to prevent states from attesting to Biden’s victory. of, in part, by setting up a friendly slate of voters who would reverse their will. Voters.
Politico and MSNBC were the first to report on the documents this week.
Wicked Slate of Voters
As part of the Electoral College process, governors are required to sign a formal “certificate of locating”, verifying that the voters of the statewide winner’s electors are legitimate electors. These electors sign a second certificate formally confirming their votes for the president.
These documents are sent to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., which processes them before being sent to Congress, which formally counts the electoral votes on January 6.
The original testimonies, which have been posted on the National Archives website, correctly state that Biden won seven battleground states. They also list each state’s legitimate group of voters, rather than the rogue pro-Trump slate covered in unofficial documents.
According to the documents, some fake certificates with pro-Trump voters were sent to the National Archives by top officials representing the Republican Party in each state.
He sent these fake certificates after Trump himself failed to stop the governors from signing the original certificates. In particular, Trump encouraged Republican governors in states such as Georgia and Arizona not to certify election results, and falsely claimed that the elections were fraud. But these GOP officials ignored Trump, followed the law, and honored Biden with electors.
Establishing a slate of “alternative electors” was an integral part of the ill-fated plan envisioned by Trump allies by pressuring Vice President Mike Pence on January 6 to oust pro-Biden voters who were elected by the electorate. The idea was promoted by Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, including controversial right-wing lawyer John Eastman.
Eastman, who has been summoned by the January 6 committee, outlined a six-step plan for Pence to reverse the election and give Trump a second term. The plan involved excluding results from seven states because they allegedly had competing voters.
In fact, no state had two slates of truly competitive voters. Pro-Trump voters were claiming to be voters without rights, as recorded in fake certificates sent to the National Archives. The certificates were essentially an elaborate public relations stunt.
The new documents weren’t just fake certificates sent to the National Archives. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told CNN’s Don Lemon that a second group called “Sovereign Citizens of the State of Arizona” sent a rogue document to the National Archives in 2020, and said she had improperly accessed the State of Arizona. seal was used on his fake certificate
“They used this fake seal to make it appear official, which is not legal activity,” Hobbs said.
Key focus for January 6 panel
The fake certificates obtained by American Oversight and the accompanying emails were sent in mid-December 2020 while the team is aggressively pursuing false claims of widespread voter fraud in an attempt to reverse the Trump election. Weeks later, pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol in a violent bid to prevent Congress from authenticating Biden’s victory.
His pressure campaign against election officials in several of the battlefield states is now a key area for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack.
An entire team of investigators, known as the “Gold Team”, is dedicated to unraveling that pressure operation. The panel has spoken to several election officials in states where Trump falsely claimed there was evidence of fraud, and in some cases traveled to those states.
Any testimony and information the committee has gathered from these election officials about the pressure campaign will be put into practice in its first set of hearings, potentially in primetime hours, geared to dismiss the “Big Lie”. That the election was stolen. Some state election officials who have been interviewed personally by the committee may also appear as witnesses.
Representative Benny Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chair of the committee, told CNN, “We’ve been to Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania. We’ve reviewed 60-odd lawsuits that were filed in various federal courts, and outright dismissed We have spoken to those people who conducted elections in those areas where people say those elections are fake.”
CNN has independently confirmed that the panel has spoken to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and members of her staff, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a GOP official who has spoken to her state election results for more than four years. Trump’s pressure to reverse batted forcefully. hours.
In addition to Benson, the committee has also interviewed Chris Thomas, longtime Michigan’s director of elections, who was brought in during the 2020 election to oversee absentee ballot processing at the TCF Center in Detroit.
Thompson said, “I think it’s important that in our body of work, we try to make sure that we can’t just say that elections will be conducted honestly, fairly, and that elections are proven to be the right thing to do.” Was.” ,