Michigan GOP co-chair said Trump campaign asked for GOP elector push: CNN

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Republican Party Co-Chairwoman Meshawn Maddock said former President Donald Trump's campaign had encouraged the effort to challenge the 2020 results by a group of 16 Republican electors, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.

The national outlet reported that Maddock, who was one of the 16 GOP electors who submitted a false document saying the battleground state had voted for Trump, made the comments at a Stand Up Michigan event.

"We fought to seat the electors," Maddock said, according to the recording. "The Trump campaign asked us to do that."

Meshawn Maddock speaks to a large crowd at the Trumperware event in Flushing on April 13, 2019. The Michigan Republican Party Co-Chairwoman said former President Donald Trump's campaign had encouraged the effort to challenge the 2020 results by a group of 16 Republican electors, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.

News of the recording came two days after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters she believes there's "absolutely" enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the 16 Republicans who signed the false certificate on Dec. 14, 2020.

Nessel, a Democrat and the state's top law enforcement official, decided to refer the investigation to federal prosecutors because of jurisdictional reasons. But she didn't rule out bringing charges at the state level in the future.

"I can't comment on the investigation at this point," Nessel said when asked if any of the GOP electors were cooperating with her probe. "I will say that, again, I feel confident that we have enough evidence to charge should we decide to pursue that."

Democrat Joe Biden won Michigan's 2020 presidential election over Trump by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. The outcome was certified by the Board of State Canvassers on Nov. 23, 2020, meaning Michigan's 16 electoral votes went to Biden under state law.

However, on Dec. 14, 2020, as the 16 Democratic presidential electors met inside the state Capitol to officially cast their votes, 16 Republicans met at state GOP headquarters to sign a certificate, claiming to cast votes for Trump.

The Republicans who signed the document, including Maddock and the state's Republican national committeewoman, Kathy Berden, inaccurately claimed they were the "duly elected and qualified electors," according to their certificate.

They sent the certificate to the National Archives as part of an attempt in multiple states to impede Biden's victory before the country's electoral votes were counted and certified during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Nessel announced last week that she referred the investigation to the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Michigan. Federal authorities will be better able to examine if there was a multi-state conspiracy involving the electors' certificates, Nessel said.

Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, another of the 16 GOP electors who signed the certificate claiming Trump had won the state, previously told The Detroit News that he was asked to show up in Lansing and sign a document. The clerk said he believed he had gotten a call from an attorney working on behalf of Trump in Washington, D.C.

Grot said there was a possibility the election result was incorrect.

"I was doing my job," he said.

The Michigan Republican Party has bashed Nessel's comments about the GOP electors.

"This is nothing more than political prosecution of convenience led by Dana Nessel," said Gustavo Portela, the state GOP's communications director. "Dana Nessel is playing political games with people’s lives and livelihoods for the sake of scoring political points ahead of an election."

cmauger@detroitnews.com