Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed the first criminal charges related to efforts by Donald Trump allies to claim a different group of state electors for the presidential election, Politico reports. The charges included forgery and other felony charges. Having a different slate of electors was one of then-President Trump’s last efforts to stay in power. “This plan — to reject the will of the voters and undermine democracy — was fraudulent and legally baseless,” Nessel said. “The evidence will demonstrate there was no legal authority for the false electors to purport to act as ‘duly elected presidential electors’ and execute the false electoral documents.”
The charges are the first charges against any top Republican Party figures who took part in Trump’s effort to hang on to power. Nessel’s office charged each of the 16 defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing, one count of uttering and publishing, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and two counts of election forgery. Each offense in the criminal complaint is a felony. Nessel, a Democrat, said the investigation is ongoing. “Our department has not ruled out potential charges against additional defendants,” she said. Some would-be electors and their allies have said the alternate slates were part of a contingency plan intended to buttress other legal moves by Trump to challenge the 2020 election results. However, those legal challenges famously fizzled in court, leaving those who signed the documents and others who organized the efforts facing investigation and potential legal jeopardy. The news comes as Trump has revealed he’s been informed he’s a target of special counsel Jack Smith’s sprawling investigation into his effort to subvert the 2020 election — a multipart scheme that included assembling false slates of electors in seven states won by Joe Biden.