Michigan AG pledges to pursue case against Trump electors

FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel listens to a question from reporters in Detroit. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, a judge blocked a sudden ban on the open display of guns near Michigan polling places on Election Day. Gun-rights groups said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, had exceeded her authority in banning people from openly carrying guns within 100 feet of polling places. Critics argued that Benson failed to go through a formal rule-making process as required under state law. The judge agreed. Nessel pledged to appeal the judge’s decision with just days left until the election. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – The Michigan attorney general said Friday there's "clear evidence" to pursue charges against pro-Donald Trump Republicans who claimed they were the state's presidential electors in 2020, despite Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory.

Dana Nessel referred the matter to federal prosecutors last year, but no public action has been taken. A year later, she said it's time for state authorities to step in.

“Let's be fair about what this was: It was an effort to overturn a lawful election,” Nessel, a Democrat, said. “That type of activity can’t go without any consequences. ... There are laws that specifically speak to their actions. I plan to reopen the investigation.”

In December 2020, Michigan’s electors cast 16 votes for Biden, following his 2.8 percentage point win in the state over Trump. But a separate group tried to enter the state Capitol with Trump’s Electoral College candidates.

The federal government notified the state that it had received unofficial signed certificates from GOP electors. The group included Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Invalid certificates also were mailed to the U.S. Senate, the Michigan secretary of state and a federal court in western Michigan.

“There is clear evidence to support charges against those 16 false electors,” Nessel told reporters, noting the work of the House committee investigating the 2021 post-election riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In response, the state Republican Party accused the attorney general of “engaging in political theater” and using tax dollars to “perpetually persecute her political enemies.”

Nessel in the past has said forgery could be a possible charge.

“I don't know what the federal government plans to do,” she said Friday. “Perhaps they are going to move forward, and I hope that they do, but I think it's important that a couple years later that there be some accountability.”

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