A former federal prosecutor has suggested that Republicans who took part in the fake electors scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in seven states could face a number of criminal charges.
Glenn Kirschner, who served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for 24 years, suggested that the 59 fake electors could face criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding (the certification of the Electoral College), conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery, and mail fraud, as the fake Electoral College documents were sent through the U.S. Postal Service.
The most serious of those offenses could potentially result in a 20-year prison sentence.
“That’s not an exhaustive list,” Kirschner said in an interview with HuffPost, indicating that the fake electors could face charges beyond those listed above.
The threat of prosecution could incentivize many of the Republicans involved to cooperate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) if a formal inquiry is opened, Kirshner said. He believes that the lawmakers involved in the scheme will eventually be charged.
“These folks should all be charged yesterday,” Kirschner said.
Some of the fake electors have sought to distance themselves from the scheme by claiming that their fraudulent votes were accompanied by addendums saying that the votes should only be counted if Trump and his allies were successful in their legal challenges. Such a statement was attached to a fake Electoral College document from Pennsylvania Republicans, for example.
But in Georgia, where the Republicans involved issued a similar document, electors could face charges because their disclaiming statement wasn’t included with the votes they sent to the National Archives and to Congress.
Fake electors from other states didn’t include statements acknowledging that their votes should only be counted if court challenges were successful. The fake documents matched legitimate Electoral College certification notices word for word, although they were printed on a different type of paper.
The fake electors may consider making plea arrangements if they have evidence that members of Trump’s inner circle were pressuring them to help the former president overturn the results of the election. The scheme, which ultimately sought to disrupt the certification of the presidential election on January 6, was reportedly managed by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, along with members of Trump’s campaign team.
But it’s possible that other individuals were involved in the plan, including current members of Congress; if this is the case, fake electors could potentially make plea arrangements based on their involvement. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican in Wisconsin who was a member of the state legislature at the time, arranged for a room to be reserved for the fake electors at the state Capitol building on the same day that legitimate electors had met there to cast their ballots for Biden, who won the state in the 2020 presidential race. It’s possible that Wisconsin electors with knowledge of Fitzgerald’s actions could arrange a plea deal with the Justice Department by implicating him as a participant in the scheme.
Although his home state wasn’t one of the seven states involved, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) could also face repercussions for his involvement in the plan. Last month, Jordan confirmed that he was one of several GOP lawmakers who texted Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows encouraging him to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to recognize the fake electors as legitimate.
The DOJ has begun to investigate the fake electors scheme following requests from several state attorneys general for the department to do so, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said to CNN on Tuesday.
“We’ve received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those and I can’t say anything more on ongoing investigations,” Monaco said.