U.S.

Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Fake Trump Electors

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack issued 14 subpoenas on Friday to people who falsely claimed to be electors for President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr., digging deeper into Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results.

The subpoenas target individuals who met and submitted false Electoral College certificates in seven states won by President Biden: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“The select committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”

The so-called alternate electors met on Dec. 14, 2020, in seven states that Mr. Trump lost and submitted bogus slates of Electoral-College votes for him, the committee said. They then sent the false Electoral College certificates to Congress, an action Mr. Trump’s allies used to try to justify delaying or blocking the final step in confirming the 2020 election results — a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to formally count the electoral votes.

The 14 individuals subpoenaed on Friday were: Nancy Cottle and Loraine B. Pellegrino of Arizona; David Shafer and Shawn Still of Georgia; Kathy Berden and Mayra Rodriguez of Michigan; Jewll Powdrell and Deborah W. Maestas of New Mexico; Michael J. McDonald and James DeGraffenreid of Nevada; Bill Bachenberg and Lisa Patton of Pennsylvania; and Andrew Hitt and Kelly Ruh of Wisconsin.

The subpoenas order the witnesses, all of whom claimed to be either a chair or secretary of the fake elector slates, to turn over documents and sit for depositions in February.

Those who signed onto the fake slates of electors were mostly state-level officials in the Republican Party, G.O.P. political candidates or party activists involved with Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. None of those who were subpoenaed responded on Friday to requests for comment.

The committee’s subpoenas came as the Justice Department said this week it was investigating the fake electors.

The scheme to employ the so-called alternate electors was one of Mr. Trump’s most expansive efforts to overturn the election, beginning even before some states had finished counting ballots and culminating in the pressure placed on Vice President Mike Pence to throw out legitimate votes for Mr. Biden when he presided over the joint congressional session. At various times, the gambit involved lawyers, state lawmakers and top White House aides.

As early as Nov. 4, Mark Meadows, then Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, received a message from an unidentified Republican lawmaker proposing an “aggressive strategy” to maintain his grip on power. According to the strategy, Republican-controlled legislatures in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania would “just send their own electors” to the Electoral College instead of those chosen by voters to represent Mr. Biden.

Within a month, two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, spoke to Republican lawmakers in swing states like Michigan and Arizona, urging them to convene special sessions to choose their own electors.

Around the same time, John Eastman, another lawyer who would ultimately work for Mr. Trump, spoke by video to lawmakers in Georgia, advising them to “adopt a slate of electors yourself.”

As the plan became public, it was widely ridiculed by legal scholars as a futile attempt to subvert the will of the voters. Nevertheless, several prominent conservatives — among them, the writer L. Brent Bozell III and former Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina — signed an open letter on Dec. 10, 2020, calling on lawmakers in competitive states to “exercise their plenary power” and “appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump.”

Key Figures in the Jan. 6 Inquiry


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The House investigation. A select committee is scrutinizing the causes of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which occurred as Congress met to formalize Joe Biden’s election victory amid various efforts to overturn the results. Here are some key figures in the inquiry:

Donald Trump. The former president’s movement and communications on Jan. 6 appear to be a focus of the inquiry. While Mr. Trump has invoked executive privilege in an attempt to shield his records, the Supreme Court refused to block the release of the files.

Ivanka Trump. The daughter of the former president, who served as one of his senior advisers, has been asked to cooperate after the panel said it had gathered evidence that she had implored her father to call off the violence as his supporters stormed the Capitol.

Kevin McCarthy. The panel has requested an interview with the House Republican leader about his contact with Mr. Trump during the riot. The California representative, who could become speaker of the House after the midterms in November, has refused to cooperate.

Rudolph Giuliani. The panel has subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and three members of the legal team — Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn — who pursued conspiracy-filled lawsuits that made claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Mike Pence. The former vice president could be a key witness as the committee focuses on Mr. Trump’s responsibility for the riot and considers criminal referrals, but Mr. Pence reportedly has not decided whether to cooperate.

Mark Meadows. Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, who initially provided the panel with a trove of documents that showed the extent of his role in the efforts to overturn the election, is now refusing to cooperate. The House voted to recommend holding Mr. Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress.

Scott Perry and Jim Jordan. The Republican representatives of Pennsylvania and Ohio are among a group of G.O.P. congressmen who were deeply involved in efforts to overturn the election. Both Mr. Perry and Mr. Jordan have refused to cooperate with the panel.

Fox News anchors. ​​Texts between Sean Hannity and Trump officials in the days surrounding the riot illustrate the host’s unusually elevated role as an outside adviser. Mr. Hannity, along with Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, also texted Mr. Meadows as the riot unfolded.

Big Tech firms. The panel has criticized Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter for allowing extremism to spread on their platforms and saying they have failed to cooperate adequately with the inquiry. The committee has issued subpoenas to all four companies.

Far-right figures. White nationalist leaders and militia groups are being scrutinized as the panel’s focus intensifies on the rallies that led up to the mob violence and how those with extremist views worked with pro-Trump forces to undermine the election.

Roger Stone and Alex Jones. The panel’s interest in the political operative and the conspiracy theorist indicate that investigators are intent on learning the details of the planning and financing of rallies that drew Mr. Trump’s supporters to Washington based on his lies of a stolen election.

Steve Bannon. The former Trump aide has been charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena, claiming protection under executive privilege even though he was an outside adviser. His trial is scheduled for this summer.

Michael Flynn. Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser attended an Oval Office meeting on Dec. 18 in which participants discussed seizing voting machines and invoking certain national security emergency powers. Mr. Flynn has filed a lawsuit to block the panel’s subpoenas.

Phil Waldron. The retired Army colonel has been under scrutiny since a 38-page PowerPoint document he circulated on Capitol Hill was turned over to the panel by Mr. Meadows. The document contained extreme plans to overturn the election.

Jeffrey Clark. The little-known Justice Department official repeatedly pushed his colleagues to help Mr. Trump undo his loss. The panel has recommended that Mr. Clark be held in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate.

John Eastman. The lawyer has been the subject of intense scrutiny since writing a memo that laid out how Mr. Trump could stay in power. Mr. Eastman was present at a meeting of Trump allies at the Willard Hotel that has become a prime focus of the panel.

Four days later — the day the Electoral College met — state lawmakers in seven contested swing states drafted and signed the fake slates.

To promote the plan, Phill Kline, the director of the Amistad Project, a conservative legal group that was working with Mr. Trump’s lawyers on lawsuits to challenge the election, fanned across right-wing media outlets that day. And Stephen Miller, a top adviser to Mr. Trump, announced on Fox News that state lawmakers in several key swing states were in the process of sending “an alternate slate of electors” to Congress.

Even after the Electoral College ignored the fake electors and certified Mr. Biden’s victory, Mr. Trump’s allies continued to push the scheme.

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Amistad Project filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to essentially force Mr. Pence to recognize the fake elector slates when he presided over Congress’s official count on Jan. 6. While the lawsuit was dismissed, a Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, drafted a letter one week later laying out a plan to persuade officials in Georgia to call back their Biden electors and consider swapping them for those who support Mr. Trump. (The letter was never sent.)

The scheme gathered momentum as Jan. 6 approached.

On Dec. 31, according to Politico, Ms. Ellis wrote a legal memo to Mr. Trump advising him that six states had “electoral delegates in dispute” and that because of this conflict, Mr. Pence should not accept any electors from them, but rather ask state lawmakers which slate they wanted to use. On Jan. 5, 2020, with pressure building on Mr. Pence, Ms. Ellis wrote a second memo reasserting the vice president’s authority to refuse to consider electors from states that would have given Mr. Biden a victory.

Ultimately, the efforts were rejected by Mr. Pence.

Though he did not directly acknowledge the existence of alternate electors during the joint session, Mr. Pence did amend the traditional script read by a vice president during such proceedings, adding language making clear that alternate slates of electors offered up by states were not considered legitimate.

As he ticked through the states, Mr. Pence said repeatedly that the result certified by the Electoral College, “the parliamentarian has advised me, is the only certificate of vote from that state that purports to be a return from the state, and that has annexed to it a certificate from an authority of the state purporting to appoint and ascertain electors.”

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