CRIME

Nevada grand jury indicts six pro-Trump 2020 fake electors

Dec 6, 2023, 3:44 PM

President Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he departs a campaign rally at Las Vegas Convention Ce...

President Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he departs a campaign rally at Las Vegas Convention Center on February 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada grand jury on Wednesday indicted six Republicans who submitted certificates to Congress falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election in their state, making Nevada the third to seek charges against so-called “fake electors.”

“We cannot allow attacks on democracy to go unchallenged,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s indictments are the product of a long and thorough investigation, and as we pursue this prosecution, I am confident that our judicial system will see justice done.”

The fake electors — involved in the state GOP or Clark County GOP — have been charged with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument. Those two categories of felonies have penalties that range from one year up to either four or five years in prison.

In December 2020, the six Republicans signed certificates falsely stating that Trump won Nevada and sent them to Congress and the National Archives, where they were ultimately ignored. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol looked into the role these fake electors in key battleground states took in Trump’s attempt to cling to power after his 2020 defeat.

Michigan’s Attorney General filed felony charges in July against 16 Republican fake electors, who would face eight criminal charges including forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery, though one had charges dropped after reaching a cooperation deal. The top charge carried a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

More Michigan Republicans accused of being fake electors for Trump plead not guilty

In Wisconsin, 10 Republicans who posed as electors settled a civil lawsuit Wednesday, admitting their actions were part of an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Sixteen fake electors also have been charged in Georgia, three of which were also charged in August alongside Trump in a sweeping indictment accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally overturn the results of the presidential election. They have pleaded not guilty.

Ford began investigating fake electors in Nevada last month. That announcement marked a shift for the first-term Democrat, who previously was quiet on whether he would investigate the fake electors before saying that state law did not directly address whether he could pursue charges.

Among the fake electors is Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald, who has pushed to bypass the state-run presidential primary to nominate a Republican presidential nominee, instead opting for a party-run caucus, which would require voter ID and paper ballots.

He has remained a staunch ally of Trump, opening for the former president at a rally in Las Vegas by saying, “You give us a fair election, I’ll give you the next president of the United States — Donald J. Trump.” Trump and his attorneys also had a direct hand in the planning and execution of the fake elector scheme, including a conference call with McDonald, transcripts released last year show.

McDonald did not respond to a phone calls and a text message requesting comment on Wednesday.

Clark County GOP Chair Jesse Law was also indicted, along with Jim Hindle, who runs elections in rural Storey County. Hindle did not return a voice message left Wednesday requesting comment.

Ford had testified in support of a bill that would have criminalized future fake electors. That passed Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, who said the punishment between four and 10 years in prison was too harsh.

___

AP writers Kate Brumback contributed reporting from Atlanta, and Joey Cappelletti contributed reporting from Lansing, Michigan. Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on X, formerly Twitter: @gabestern326.

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Nevada grand jury indicts six pro-Trump 2020 fake electors