By Jackson Richman and Savannah Hulsey Pointer
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told The Epoch Times on July 19 that his party plans to probe the “weaponization” of the government in response to news that Michigan electors in the 2020 presidential election for former President Donald Trump were being charged with felonies.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in a July 18 statement that she was charging 16 Michigan residents for what she identified as their role in the “alleged false electors scheme following the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”
Mr. McCarthy responded to questions about the allegedly “false electors,” saying, “We’re going to look into that this is just the weaponization of government that has happened under Democrats.”
“This two-tiered justice system going after their political opponents time and again, we see it each and every day. That’s why when we took the majority, we created the weaponization committee to look into this to stop it,” he said.
The lawmaker answered questions on the issue just a day after 16 individuals were charged after signing documents following the 2020 presidential election declaring that Michigan had been won by Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.
Each of the 16 individuals who served as electors in the 2020 election are facing several felonies that together carry a potential maximum sentence of 85 years in prison.
“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” Ms. Nessel said in the statement.
“My department has prosecuted numerous cases of election law violations throughout my tenure, and it would be malfeasance of the greatest magnitude if my department failed to act here in the face of overwhelming evidence of an organized effort to circumvent the lawfully cast ballots of millions of Michigan voters in a presidential election.”
The attorney general’s arrests followed an investigation that found evidence the 16 charged individuals met at the state GOP headquarters in Michigan and signed their names to false certificates stating they were electors for Mr. Trump.
“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,” Ms. Nessel continued.
In response to Mr. Trump’s allegations of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Republican electors in seven states, including Michigan, cast alternative ballots supporting Mr. Trump’s claim that he won the election.
Even though it isn’t unheard of for different groups of electors to vote in a presidential election, the fact that so many states did so in 2020 made the election unique. As legal challenges went through the courts, Republicans in some states asserted that their actions would keep Mr. Trump’s formal claim to the presidency.
Evidence in Ms. Nessel’s case included documents that were subsequently sent to the U.S. Senate and the National Archives in what the state attorney general’s office characterized as a “coordinated effort” to give Michigan’s electoral votes to a candidate other than the one elected by the state’s voters.
The accused face multiple felony counts, including forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, “uttering and publishing,” and conspiracy to commit “uttering and publishing,” the latter of which is a crime related to counterfeiting important documents and then trying to pass them off as legitimate. Each of those four counts carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
In June 2022, questions about the possibility of “fake electors” surfaced in Georgia, when the prosecutor in Georgia who was investigating whether Mr. Trump and others illegally interfered with the state’s 2020 general election informed 16 Republicans who served as false electors that they could face criminal charges.
In July 2022, the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis disclosed that each of the 16 individuals believed to have signed the false elector certificate was a target of her investigation, which examines whether Mr. Trump and his allies committed crimes while attempting to overturn his narrow election loss.
In May, however, the prosecutor investigating possible unlawful interference in the 2020 election in Georgia reached immunity agreements with at least eight Republican fake electors who reportedly signed a certificate erroneously claiming that Mr. Trump had won the state. This was due to Willis’s investigation into potential meddling in the 2020 presidential election.
In a court filing, defense attorney Kimberly Debrow disclosed the existence of the immunity agreements and stated that eight of her clients had accepted them last month. The filing doesn’t identify the individuals offered immunity agreements.
The news of the immunity agreements indicates that Ms. Willis continues to work on her case as she prepares to decide this summer whether to pursue charges. In letters sent to law enforcement agencies at the end of last month, she instructed them to prepare adequate security as she plans to declare her prosecution decisions between mid-July and early September.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.