The federal investigation into the creation of fake, pro-Trump electoral certificates — certificates that were first uncovered and published by American Oversight — has intensified in recent weeks, according to new reports by the New York Times and CNN.
In December 2020, Trump supporters in seven states met and created fake certificates awarding their electoral votes to Trump, even though Joe Biden had actually won those states. Less than a month later, as Congress prepared to certify the electoral vote count, Trump advisers including attorney John Eastman promoted a scheme that called for Vice President Mike Pence to cite the existence of these fake electoral certificates as justification for disregarding the legitimate votes from those states.
On Wednesday, the Times reported that a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, has started issuing subpoenas to people linked to the plan, “requesting information about several lawyers including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani” and Eastman.
On Thursday, CNN reported that FBI agents had interviewed a Georgia Republican who had originally been set to serve as one of the real electors. “They just asked who talked to me. If anyone from the Trump campaign had been in touch with me. Did Giuliani talk to me? Did Trump talk to me?” the would-be elector, Patrick Gartland, told CNN.
In five of the seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin — the certificates uncovered by American Oversight show that the fake Trump electors asserted that they were the “duly elected and qualified electors” for that state. The certificates from the other two states, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, included qualifying language indicating they might later be determined to be valid.
As CNN noted, a key outstanding question has been whether the electors in states like Georgia “put together fake slates to fraudulently override Biden’s win in the Electoral College, or if they believed they were submitting alternative slates in case Trump’s court challenges were successful.”
Even as the federal investigation into the elector scheme ramped up, one of the signatories of Wisconsin’s bogus, pro-Trump electoral certificate — Robert Spindell — moved a step closer to becoming the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Dean Knudson, a former member of the Wisconsin state Assembly who helped to create the state’s bipartisan elections commission, abruptly resigned from his post on the board on Wednesday. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Knudson stepped down after “U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson took a rare step into state politics and told a top GOP lawmaker that [Knudson] had lost support from his own party.”
That move leaves Spindell as the only remaining eligible candidate to take over as chair of the commission, although the post could also go to an as-yet unnamed candidate appointed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Among the names being circulated for that appointment is former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is currently leading the Assembly’s partisan review of the 2020 election and who has embraced Trump’s false claims of election fraud.
Also this week, ProPublica published an in-depth report on one of the partisan actors helping to propel Gableman’s election inquiry — hypnotherapist and election denier Jay Stone. The report cites documents uncovered by American Oversight showing that Stone was employed by Gableman’s review in February and March 2022, and was paid $3,250. Months before Stone was employed by the review, other records we obtained show that he shared information with Gableman’s office about complaints he had filed regarding the 2020 election.
Last week, a federal judge blocked the administration from lifting Title 42, the Trump-era immigration restriction disguised as a public health measure, days before the CDC had planned its official end. After facing numerous legal challenges, it now may be months or even more than a year before the measure is finally lifted. We previously uncovered records revealing the involvement of Trump aide Stephen Miller in the creation of the policy.
Cases continue to rise as the nation moves through a “hidden” wave of Covid-19, where the true number of positive cases is obscured by unreported at-home tests and diminished data collection efforts. Official case counts are averaging more than 110,000 a day, a level not seen since the end of the omicron wave in February. Hospitalizations are at a daily average of more than 25,000.