MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Ten Republicans who posed as fake voters for former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin and filed documents falsely claiming he won the battleground state have settled a civil trial and admitted that their actions were part of an effort to overthrow the president. Victory for Joe Biden, the lawyers who filed the case announced on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, the fake electors acknowledged that Biden had won the state, withdrew their records and agreed not to serve as presidential electors in 2024 or any other election where Trump is on the ballot .
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The 10 fake electors agreed to send a statement to the government offices that received the Electoral College votes, saying their actions were “part of an attempt to improperly overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election “.
The settlement marks the first time Trump electors have revoked their documents sent to Congress claiming Trump won in seven battleground states. Fake voters have been indicted in Georgia and Michigan, and Trump faces charges in Georgia and as part of a federal investigation into his conduct related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.
The settlement was announced by Law Forward, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center and the Madison-based law firm Stafford Rosenbaum.
“Americans believe in democracy and the idea that the people choose their leaders through elections,” said Jeff Mandell, one of the lawyers who brought the case on behalf of Democratic voters, two of whom who were Biden voters. “The defendants’ actions violated these fundamental principles. We brought this case to ensure they are held accountable.
There are no known criminal investigations underway in Wisconsin. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has indicated he is counting on federal investigators to look into what happened in Wisconsin, while also not ruling out a state-level probe.
Democrats filed a lawsuit last year seeking $2.4 million in damages from 10 Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 election in Wisconsin. They also sued two of Trump’s lawyers, including one who has already pleaded guilty to other charges stemming from the 2020 election in Georgia.
The case was scheduled to go to trial by jury in September 2024, two months before the presidential election.
Under the terms of the agreement, the fake voters pay no damages or attorney fees and there is no admission of wrongdoing or liability.
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Republican voters in Wisconsin have long said they would participate in the plan in case a court later rules that Trump won the state. One of the fake electors, former Wisconsin Republican state chairman Andrew Hitt, reiterated that position in a statement Wednesday.
“Wisconsin voters were deceived and misled into participating in what became the Alternative Election System and would never have taken any action if we had known there were hidden reasons beyond preserving an ongoing legal strategy,” he said. Hitt said he has worked with the Justice Department since May 2022 and will not support Trump in 2024.
The fake election plan drawn up in seven battleground states was at the heart of the federal indictment filed against Trump earlier in August, alleging he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Federal prosecutors said the scheme originated in Wisconsin.
Fake electors gathered in Wisconsin and six other states where Trump was defeated in 2020 and signed certificates falsely stating that Trump, not Biden, had won their states. Fake certificates were ignored.
One of the attorneys named in the Wisconsin lawsuit, Kenneth Chesebro, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to file false documents after being accused of participating in efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia. Chesebro was charged, along with Trump and 17 others, with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law.
The Wisconsin lawsuit cites a memo Chesebro sent to Trump’s Wisconsin lawyer, Jim Troupis, in November 2020 detailing the electors’ plan.
Under the terms of the settlement, the 10 fake voters promised to assist the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation. They also agreed to help Democrats pursue their case against Troupis and Chesebro.
Troupis and Chesebro did not respond to voicemails seeking comment.
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The fake voters also published nearly 600 pages of documents related to their project, in accordance with the terms of the settlement.
These show one Republican involved in the fake election conspiracy texting another referring to his action declaring Trump the winner in Wisconsin as a “possible theft.” The sender said he felt obligated to agree to the plan, otherwise Trump supporters would be upset and “I’d have a target on my back.”
Government and outside investigations have uniformly found that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have hijacked Biden’s election. Trump continued to spread lies about the 2020 election.
Electors are people appointed to represent voters in presidential elections. The winner of the popular vote in each state determines which party will be sent to the Electoral College, which meets in December after the election to certify the result.
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