The group of Michigan Republicans who created a false electoral college certificate, claiming that Donald Trump had won the state and they were the duly appointed electors, have been referred to federal prosecutors by State Attorney General Dana Nessel. The Detroit News reports that even though Nessel indicated her intention to send the case to federal authorities, state charges remained possible.
“Under state law,” said Nessel during an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show, “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.”
Over the last week, information has been released showing that Republicans in multiple states created false election certificates claiming to certify a slate of electors supporting Donald Trump. In the case of Michigan, that certificate falsely claimed that Donald Trump had won the state, falsely claimed to record the official slate of electors, and falsely claimed that those electors had been selected at the state capitol. In fact, they were selected in the Michigan Republican Party headquarters in Lansing. This collection of false claims was sent by registered mail to the archivist at the National Archives as part of an extensive scheme to justify refusing to recognize the actual results of the election.
Republicans didn’t just scheme to overthrow democracy. They put it in writing and signed their names.
Trump supporters created false electoral certificates in at least Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico, in addition to Michigan. These certificates weren’t created by random supporters on the street, or as part of some Q-Anon forum. They came from Republican Party leaders, local officials, and state legislators. As an example, the Michigan certificate included the state party’s co-chair and vice chair, along with a member of the national committee and a township election clerk. The 16 signatories of the Michigan document purport to be “duly elected and qualified electors” under the false claim that they “convened and organized” in the state Capitol. In truth, when the group tried to enter the Capitol building, they were stopped by police.
As the News sums up nicely:
Democrat Joe Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points, a result that’s been upheld by a series of court rulings, more than 200 audits and an investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate Oversight Committee.
Asked why she had attempted to send a false certificate to the National Archives, Republican National Committee Member Kathy Berden replied, “I can’t comment on anything like that. That was a long time ago.”
But Republicans in Michigan and elsewhere may not have the luxury of falling back on their oh-so-short memories. The series of false election certificates are a tangible representation of the coup attempt organized by the Trump White House.
Under that scheme, as presented by attorney John Eastman, Republicans would object to the counting of votes in “disputed” states on Jan. 6. The false slates of electors could then be used as supposed evidence that there was a question about the outcome in these states. Then-Vice President Mike Pence could then either simply leave out the electoral votes from these states, declaring Trump the winner of a much-reduced electoral college, or throw the question to Republican-dominated state legislatures. A version of this plan was briefed to Republicans in Congress in a lengthy PowerPoint presentation so they would know their roles in the scheme.
As more information reaches the public, the odds that the House select committee on Jan. 6 will refer criminal charges of conspiracy to the Department of Justice only increases. However, in the case of Michigan at least, the Department of Justice may not be waiting for the committee.