‘Dangerous precedent’: Jan. 6 committee trains its sights on false pro-Trump electors

As Capitol attack investigators dig into efforts by state-level Republicans to send Congress “alternative” slates of 2020 presidential electors, they’re zeroing in on the involvement of Donald Trump’s White House and campaign operations.

As presidential electors gathered in December 2020 to affirm Joe Biden’s victory, the Republicans who would have been Trump’s electors in several states that Biden won gathered anyway to cast unofficial votes. In five of those states — Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia — those electors then signed certificates claiming they were “duly elected and qualified” to represent their states.

Those certificates were then mailed to the National Archives and Congress. Now the Jan. 6 select panel is looking deeper at the Trump network’s role in that strategy, which Democrats increasingly say may have amounted to a crime.

“We want to look at the fraudulent activity that was contained in the preparation of these fake Electoral College certificates,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Capitol riot committee. “And then we want to look to see to what extent this was part of a comprehensive plan to overthrow the 2020 election.”

The select committee is expecting a new tranche of documents from the National Archives related to its false-electors inquiry, according to its chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). The Archives has confirmed it’s compiling materials on the matter, Thompson told reporters, describing the apparent involvement of the Trump political or governing apparatus in the certificates as a “concern.”

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), another panel member, said the submission of the electoral certificates — claiming to be legitimate — was a “dangerous precedent.”

The false-electors push was well-known at the time, but it’s drawn fresh scrutiny amid indications that the select committee has received documents from multiple states shedding new light on the efforts. Michigan’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Dana Nessel, recently suggested she’s been investigating the submission of illegitimate GOP electors for a year.

“This is a crime. This is election fraud,” Nessel told reporters recently. “And it’s many other crimes, as well; both, I believe, at the state and federal level.”

Like Nessel, some members of the Jan. 6 select committee say the signed documents could have broken the law.

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