More than Twenty Transcripts: The January 6 Committee’s Investigation into Fake Electors
Last week, Politico reported that the January 6 Committee is preparing to share twenty transcripts from their investigation. Thus far, no outlet has confirmed which twenty transcripts are in that bunch. But the delay of the Proud Boy leader trial has alleviated the urgency — one that arose out of discovery requirements, not investigative curiosity — behind DOJ’s request for those transcripts. Though unless the Oath Keepers’ bid to move their trial succeeds, there will be some urgency to obtain and turn over transcripts of Stewart Rhodes, Kellye SoRelle, Jason Van Tatenhove, Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and probably Ali Alexander’s depositions.
That suggests the initial twenty transcripts might pertain to the fake electors scheme, which (as CNN also noted), Bennie Thompson had previously said was a priority focus for DOJ.
If that’s the case, though, the number — twenty — is rather curious. That’s because the Committee subpoenaed more than twenty people involved in the scheme and spoke to still more.
First, there are the fourteen people who were subpoenaed back on January 28, the chair and secretary of the fake elector slate for each of seven states.
- Nancy Cottle, Chairperson, Arizona
- Loraine B. Pellegrino, Secretary, Arizona
- David Shafer, Chairperson, Georgia
- Shawn Still, Secretary, Georgia
- Kathy Berden, Chairperson, Michigan
- Mayra Rodriguez, Secretary, Michigan
- Jewll Powdrell, Chairperson, New Mexico
- Deborah W. Maestas, Secretary, New Mexico
- Michael J. McDonald, Chairperson, Nevada
- James DeGraffenreid, Secretary, Nevada
- Bill Bachenberg, Chairperson, Pennsylvania
- Lisa Patton, Secretary, Pennsylvania
- Andrew Hitt, Chairperson, Wisconsin
- Kelly Ruh, Secretary, Wisconsin
Of these fourteen people, DOJ is reported to have obtained warrants targeting McDonald and DeGraffenreid and included Cottle, Pellegrino, and Shafer in subpoenas, and probably also the Michigan electors.
In addition, there were six people subpoenaed in February. Here’s how the Committee described them:
Michael A. Roman and Gary Michael Brown served, respectively, as the Director and Deputy Director of Election Day Operations for former President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. They reportedly participated in efforts to promote allegations of fraud in the November 2020 election and encourage state legislators to appoint false “alternate” slates of electors.
Douglas V. Mastriano was part of a plan to arrange for an “alternate” slate of electors from Pennsylvania for former President Trump and reportedly spoke with President Trump about post-election activities.
Laura Cox reportedly witnessed Rudy Giuliani pressure state lawmakers to disregard election results in Michigan and say that certifying the election results would be a “criminal act.”
Mark W. Finchem advanced unsubstantiated claims about the election and helped organize an event in Phoenix, Arizona on November 30th, 2020 at which former President Trump’s legal team and others spoke and advanced unproven claims of election and voter fraud. He was in Washington on January 6th, 2021 and stated that he had evidence to deliver to Vice President Pence in an effort to postpone the awarding of electors.
Kelli Ward reportedly spoke to the former President and members of his staff about election certification issues in Arizona and acted to transmit documents claiming to be an “alternate” Electoral College elector from Arizona.
Roman shows up in DOJ’s general fake elector subpoena (more on him here), and Finchem and Ward show up on at least some of the AZ-targeted ones.
Then there are others the Committee is known to have interviewed who show up on subpoenas from Thomas Windom’s DOJ investigation:
- Bernie Kerik
- Justin Clark
- Rudy Giuliani
The Committee also sent the following people, also included in the Windom legal process, subpoenas and presumably interviewed them:
Finally, there are those with knowledge of the scheme whose depositions have shown up in Committee hearings, including, but not limited to the fourth hearing, which focused on The Big Lie (again, I’ve linked to those who received a formal subpoena).
- Cleta Mitchell
- Rusty Bowers, AZ House Speaker
- Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager
- Matt Morgan, Trump campaign lawyer
- Jocelyn Benson, MI Secretary of State
- Mike Shirkey, MI Senate Majority Leader who visited the White House
- Angela McCallum, Trump campaign staffer
- Robert Sinners, Trump campaign staffer
- Brian Cutler, PA House Speaker
- Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified that discussions about fake electors started in November
- Ronna McDaniel, GOP Chair
Mark Meadows, of course, was also key to the fake elector plot, but blew off a subpoena.
So the Committee subpoenaed at least thirty people who played roles in the fake elector schemes, with only Meadows known to have entirely blown off the subpoena, and also interviewed people like Justin Clark (Trump’s election lawyer, not the former DOJ official) who are also included on DOJ subpoenas.
I raise all this for several reasons.
I’m beginning an attempt to lay out the overlap (or not) between the various investigations, including Fani Willis’ Fulton County investigation, which has expanded to include the fake electors as well. The three investigations seem to be adopting fairly incompatible approaches, and that may create a conflict in the weeks ahead. This is a first pass at laying out the overlapping scope of the known Committee and DOJ investigations, which I hope leads others to correct and add to this effort.
But I started the effort when I realized that depositions of almost none of the fake electors themselves have appeared in the Committee hearings yet.
Just one, Andrew Hitt, was quoted in the January 6 Committee hearing focused on the Big Lie. Hitt claimed that the Wisconsin fake electors would only be used if a court ruled in favor of the state-based challenges to the election.
I was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor. So that would have been using our electors — well, it would have been using our electors in ways that we weren’t told about and we wouldn’t have supported.
Mind you, the Committee’s public focus was on those who rejected Trump’s attempts at fraud, even those who, like Laura Cox, had supported other schemes, like unnecessary audits. So it may well be that the transcripts of greatest interest to DOJ are those from depositions that were not shown publicly.
Or, it’s possible DOJ’s priorities have entirely changed, and they focused on other investigative prongs.
January 6 Committee Hearing Resources
June 9 Hearing (Peaceful Transfer of Power): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
June 13 Hearing (The Big Lie): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
June 16 Hearing (Pressuring Pence): Rayne’s open thread, live-tweet; post; transcript
June 21 Hearing (Election workers): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
June 23 Hearing (DOJ officials): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
June 28 Hearing (Cassidy Hutchinson): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
July 12 Hearing (Stephen Ayers): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet post; transcript
July 21 Hearing (Sarah Matthews and Matthew Pottinger): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet; post; transcript
Welcome back EW. We missed you!
Thanks for laying all this out, Marcy. I think it is key to note that while the DOJ has asked for 20 transcripts, that doesn’t preclude them from coming back to the committee later and asking for more. Given how Bennie Thompson and others stressed how many interviews they had been doing, and the impossibility of quickly handing all that over, it seems reasonable for DOJ to come back to them and say “OK, let’s start with these 20, and see where things go after that.”
My sense is that the 20 they would ask for are those that fit one of two purposes: (1) to check testimony given to the J6 committee with their own investigative efforts – documents, emails/texts, and their own interviews – to assess the truthfulness of those with whom they have already spoken; and (2) to advance their investigations by using the J6 interviews to potentially find new evidence or to fill in gaps in what they have been able to learn thus far.
The most pressing would be those in Group 1 that, as you note, are interviews related to cases soon to go to trial. A close second would be lines of investigation that have hit a roadblock on the DOJ side but they know/suspect/hope that the J6 interview has that one nugget of information that would clear the roadblock and allow the DOJ investigation to move ahead (perhaps in a fast and significant manner).
For all the attention that has been put on what has been made public, you put your finger on the importance of what *hasn’t* been shared. I think this points to where DOJ might be going as well, which may also figure into which transcripts have been requested.
Looking at the seven states involved with the fake electors’ scheme, it is likely that the DOJ investigations into each of these states are not proceeding at the same pace. Certain aspects, like coordination with Rudy and the national Trump team generally, would apply to each state, but other aspects would be very different as the team had to deal with very different local folks who were operating under very different state regulations and laws. The investigation in one state could be moving quite quickly, while other states might be lagging further behind.
As I understand it (and I need to go back to find these references), the scheme wasn’t obviously illegal in all states. IIRC there were two where there were enough caveats or the docs were clearly IDed as inauthentic that they don’t amount to counterfeit. I think PA may be one of those. Given that there have been no NM subpoenas, perhaps that is the other. If it is correct that WI was really only presenting theirs as provisional, maybe they’re less exposed too.
Which would leave criminal exposure in:
AZ (a heavy DOJ focus)
It was the NM and PA fake electors who used appropriate weasel words:
Oh thanks. Is THAT what’s saving Mastriano’s ass?
The mako has surfaced LOL
Ty for the chuckle, and welcome back.
[THIRD AND FINAL REQUEST: Before you arrived as “Civil Discourse” we had a community member here named “civil.” You’ve repeatedly dropped “Discourse” and adopted “Civil” only as a username and have been told already to revert to “Civil Discourse” because it was your original username and doesn’t confuse community members. I’ve had to repeatedly fix your user name to prevent this confusion and I should not have to do this. Use “Civil Discourse” or your comments will remain in moderation. /~Rayne]
I’ve just seen this “notice” for the first time.
My error was not made in malice.
[Please make it a habit to check your last comment(s) since community members and moderators may have replied to you. /~Rayne]
Is there any reason to think there may be an effort to open, or at least threaten prosecutions for false testimony to the January 6 Committee, DOJ, or both?
I assume some of these people may have been dumb enough to say completely different things to DOJ and the January 6 Committee, especially earlier in the year when the standard buzz was both sides were fizzling out.
Criminal exposure may not exist for the scheme itself in some states, but I assume lying to investigators may still be a crime, and I could see how transcripts could be a tool to either pressure witnesses to be more forthcoming or possibly open the door to prosecutions.
I had the same question. Hard to keep your story straight when telling on two different occasions to two different bodies. That’s so even when you’re not fabricating. More so in the latter circumstance.
EW and Peterr. Wisconsin did not have any provisional language in its transmittal form, unlike NM or Penna. The fake elector certificate from Wisconsin cited 3 US Code 11 which calls for transmitting the certificate to four addresses: president of the US Senate; National Archivist; Secretary of State for the sending state; and US District Court for the district where the electors assemble. One clue that this certificate was fake was that it had a cover memo on letterhead proclaiming “Republican Party of Wisconsin.” Source: American Oversight, “American Oversight Obtains Seven Phony Certificates of Pro-Trump Electors,” posted March 2, 2021.
Good point. Wisconsin is a really interesting case for the fake electors scheme because even after Jan 6, they never stopped! They’re still trying to implement the scheme! Even though I don’t usually use a lot of exclamation points, it’s that or type this in ALL CAPS. They even imported my old buddy*, Erik Kaardal, to help out.
*Not actually my old buddy, just someone I wrote about on this site once.
I have plenty of spare exclamation points–lemme know if you run out!!!!!
hope you and Mr. Empty had a fun time
I’m sure from your point of view that your vacation was woefully short, but judging from the hundreds of replies to your posts (and Raynes’s) while you were away, your loyal readership has been seriously jonesing for your return. We all look forward to being further educated in the J6 judicial machinery.
I just want to point out that Jocelyn Benson (MI Secretary of State) is not implicated in the fake electors tomfoolery. Quite the opposite: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2022/08/01/secretary-state-benson-attempts-block-michigans-election-certification-futile/10188165002/
She’s a witness. As such, anything she tells J6C could be of interest.
Admittedly, someone who has no reason to lie would be way down the list of people of concern. But it’s still a transcript DOJ would want to obtain and provide if anyone is ever charged.
Welcome back, we missed you! I stopped by and was grateful for Rayne’s posts filling in for you. Vacations are great.
But now that you’re back, looking forward to many more posts with tasty comments.
Thanks again for the work you do!!
Just saw that Rolling Stone has an article out (July 31) on the investigation and some of the inner workings of purportedly Twitler’s lawyers with regard to the fake elector scheme legal jeopardy:
(I’m not able to focus on this stuff at the moment but thought I’d drop the link here after a cursory look at the article.)
Looking for a pattern with these numbers.
7 states submitted fake elector certifications,
A total of 84 electors signed one of these fraudulent certifications.
15 of the 84 signers represented substitute electors, replacing the original names on a particular state’s slate of electors.
2 of the 7 states that submitted fraudulent certifications used CYA language on the state “certification.”
I predicted from the above that the states with the highest number or highest percentage of replacement signers of the fraudulent state certifications would be the states most likely to use CYA words on those forms based on the supposition that defections from the panel would have generated group discussion among themselves that ‘this scheme is wrong.’ My theory sort of works, but it doesn’t explain GA:
We know that of the 7 states that submitted fraudulent elector certifications, only two states (PA and NM) added CYA wording.
PA, with 20 elector signatures, has the greatest number of replacement signers (7). This represents the highest percentage (35%) of replacements of the original slate of electors.
NM with 5 elector signatures had only 1 replacement signer, representing a 20% replacement of the original slate.
However, GA with 16 elector signatures had 4 replacement electors, representing a 25% replacement of the original slate. Unlike PA and NM, GA did not add CYA language to its fraudulent certification.
How to explain GA? Did COVID19 infections among those dropping off the slate (one of the original explanations for the need for replacement signers) explain the change in the original slate and the lack of a CYA phrase on the fraudulent state certification? Or were there dissenters among the original GA slate who refused to sign, but there was better suppression of dissent among those remaining?
The same questions for MI which had 16 signature, 2 of which were replacement signers.
States (total signers), # that are replacements
AZ (11), 0 replacements
GA (16), 4 replacements
MI (16), 2 replacements
*NM (5) 1 replacement
NV (6), 0 replacements
*PA (20), 7 replacements
WI (10), 1 replacement
Clever idea! But as you say, not wholly supported by the data. Here’s just a guess: There were such discussions in Pennsylvania, with those refusing to go along for the ride voicing their opinions as to the scheme’s illegality, and this did play a role in that group’s decision to include CYA language. I mean, 7/20 is a lot! In the other states there were no such discussions, or at least nothing serious. (In most cases it was just 0-2 noncompliant electors.) But somebody in the New Mexico group had enough sense of their potential exposure that they insisted on inserting the protective language. Would be interesting, I suppose, to look over the list and try to figure out who was the sensible one.
We may have to look at each state’s laws with regard to electors. Michigan is a winner-takes-all state for electoral votes, and the winner’s party determines the elector slate. Once it was clear that Michigan had gone for Biden, the Democratic Party slate of electors was elected as well. Which is why it was so easy for Michigan State Police to turn away the false GOP electors on December 14 before certification because all the Democratic slate had arrived and been checked in.
I suspect the attempt to force the false electors into the state capitol that day was driven by both the Amistad Project and GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock who’s a freaking nutbag. One of the two false electors who were replaced was a former Secretary of State who had been supported in their role for years by the DeVos family; their replacement suggests DeVos family loyalty and a schism in the party at state level. I don’t know about the second replacement. See my post about the “alternate” electors.
Maine and Nebraska are the only states that don’t have “winner take all” with respect to their electors.
:-) We posted simultaneously the same answer
Been a long time since I could say GMTA!
The majority of the states in the USA are ‘winner takes all,’ including all 7 states in which Republican Electors fraudulently submitted their names as the winning slate for the 2020 US Presidential election.
“All States, except for Maine and Nebraska have a winner-take-all policy where the State looks only at the overall winner of the state-wide popular vote. Maine and Nebraska, however, appoint individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district and then 2 electors based on the winner of the overall state-wide popular vote.”
The link to the ‘alternate electors’ was great, thanks.
I read several months ago that three of the forged certifications were actually sent to the National Archive but it was just a passing reference..
Also, is it possible that it’s more than seven states but folks were just better at covering tracks or aborted earlier?
I don’t recall hearing about more than 7 states. I don’t recall if there were other factors which limited the efforts to the 7 we know about, but this may be revealed as the investigations unfold.
My sources suggest that John Eastman was the organizer behind the NM fake electors. He is a registered voter in NM, and of course his phones were seized. Powdrell is a member of the State Legislature–a state rep. The Powdrells are a big family, and I am guessing as a Republican, she is a political outlier in the family, though I don’t know that for sure. I have known others in the family, for sure some of them, the ones I know, are not Rs.
Today, there are over 157 million women in our nation, thus, it’s obvious that these women have no “talent” to taking a leadership role in crafting a Progressive Women’s Caucus. And as such Roe fell to the wayside, and soon to be followed by the advent of an Authoritarian Genetics Of a Non=Democracy.
And as a Chicano, am I permitted to toss these millions of women to the curbside, and thusly, revoking their citizenship for touting their intellectual laziness?
You just tossed 157 million women to the side by saying they “have no ‘talent’ to taking a leadership role in crafting a Progressive Women’s Caucus.”
Dude, you really, REALLY need to slow down and rethink your remark, especially since there are multiple progressive women’s caucuses across the country including the National Political Women’s Caucus which launched in 1971.
The biggest problem has been and remains white supremacy which is patriarchal in nature. Check your own patriarchal attitude, non-white or white.
p.s. This was not an open thread like this one.
I don’t think Meadows “totally blew off the subpoena.” Didn’t he give them like 10,000 pages of documents before he rejected them?
“Excuse me, officer, but I wasn’t going 100 mph the whole time you clocked me.”