U.S. Justice Dept. to investigate Republicans who sent fake Trump electors to Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2022 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
The U.S. Dept. of Justice has launched an investigation into an apparent attempt by Republicans in Wisconsin and six other battleground states won by President Joe Biden in 2020 to allegedly subvert the election results by sending falsified slates of electors for ex-President Donald Trump to Congress.
Wisconsin attorneys from the nonprofit law firm Law Forward first asked Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to launch an investigation nearly a year ago. His office more recently asked Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to look into the matter and Kaul told the Examiner he felt the U.S. Justice Department might be the most appropriate place to handle the complaint, given that groups in seven states submitted similar documents falsely certifying that Trump won the election.
Local officials who have been pushing for the investigation welcomed the news, but stress that it should not be viewed as a substitute for state action in response to potential crimes in Wisconsin.
“We welcome these investigations,” says Mel Barnes, staff counsel for Law Forward. “There needs to be accountability for those who attempted to undermine our democracy, especially those who continue to hold positions of power in our state. Any federal crimes should be pursued by federal investigators, but our state leaders also have a responsibility to enforce Wisconsin law and protect the decisions of Wisconsinites.”
The firm tweeted Thursday morning, “The reported federal prosecution of the fraudulent presidential electors is a welcome step. But state laws are at issue too. ”
Two Wisconsin legislators, Sen. Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, discovered that the person who helped the fake Wisconsin electors by reserving a room for them to meet was incoming U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald. (Fitzgerald, who was elected to Congress that November but had not been sworn in yet, was the outgoing state Senate majority leader at the time.) They believe his role should also be investigated.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN that the Justice Department had started investigating what she described “fraudulent elector certifications,” The Guardian reported Wednesday.
Monaco said the DOJ had received referrals on the matter, and that “our prosecutors are looking at those.”
“I’m glad that the Department of Justice is taking this as seriously as it needs to be taken,” Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan says. “Shady legal work and a false document are really no different than the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 in that their goal was to take away the voice of 3.3 million Wisconsin voters. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, and I hope the Department of Justice does just that.”
Last week, Pocan, a Democrat, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department requesting it conduct an investigation into the 10 imposter electors from Wisconsin, which include many Republican party leaders. He called for the investigation “to deter other officials who may seek to engage in election fraud … for Wisconsin, for the Department, and for the nation.”
“We are going to follow the facts and the law wherever they lead to address conduct of any kind and at any level that is part of an assault on our democracy,” Monaco said, according to The Guardian.
According to The Guardian, bogus slates of Trump electors were sent to Congress by seven states that Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Two states, New Mexico and Pennsylvania – added a caveat that the Trump electors should only be counted in the event of a disputed election, The Guardian reported.
The five remaining states sent signed statements to Washington that gave the appearance that Trump had won, even though evidence showed Biden had emerged as the winner, the Guardian reported.
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