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After 2020, Trump backers forged election docs in even more states

Republicans in five states created and submitted forged election materials, raising new questions about who organized the scheme.
The Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 31, 2020, in Madison, Wis.
The Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 31, 2020, in Madison, Wis.Morry Gash / AP file

Originally, the list was limited to one state. In December 2020, Wisconsin electors met for an official ceremony in which the state formally assigned its participants in the electoral college. But as we've discussed, while the actual electors were being assigned inside the state capitol in Madison, a group of Wisconsin Republicans quietly held a separate, fake ceremony — in the same capitol, at the same time — to cast electoral votes for Donald Trump, despite his defeat in the state.

They then proceeded to forge the official paperwork and sent it to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the materials were legitimate. They were not.

That was bizarre, but as it turns out, it was not unique.

This week, the list went from one to three, as Politico reported that the National Archives also received forged certificates of ascertainment from Republicans in Michigan and Arizona — two battleground states where President Joe Biden narrowly prevailed, but where groups of Republicans nevertheless created and submitted fraudulent election materials.

That led to three relatively straightforward questions. The first is whether this was legal. On this point, George Conway wrote this morning, "Anyone who prepared or submitted, or aided, abetted or conspired in the preparation or submission of, false electoral-vote certificates, would presumably be guilty of a host of federal and state criminal offenses."

The second question is whether the Republicans who created and submitted fraudulent election materials had any outside help. Stick a pin in that one and we'll get back to it.

And the third question is whether the list will grow beyond Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. The answer, not surprisingly, is yes: Republicans in Nevada and Georgia did the same thing. As Rachel explained on last night's show:

"It's not like they created these documents to hold close to their chest and fantasize that this had been the real outcome. It's not like they created these documents just to keep themselves as a keepsake. They sent them in to the government as if they were real documents. And it's not like they sent them in saying, 'We know they're not the real electors, because Biden won here, but here's our names for posterity. Here's our names for your records.' No, they actually created these fake documents purporting to be the real certifications of them as electors."

Indeed, in the forged election materials, these Republicans literally described themselves as "the duly elected and qualified electors," despite reality.

Complicating matters is the fact that the fake documents match: They have the same formatting, same spacing, same font, and nearly identical phrasing.

It's worth noting that while Arizona's forged materials originally looked a little different, we learned yesterday that there were actually two different sets of Republicans that created fake documents in the Grand Canyon State — both of which were sent to the National Archives as if they were real — and while one was unique, the other matched the materials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned second question: Did the impostors have outside help? The fact that the five states' materials match certainly suggests there was some kind of coordinated effort.

So, who organized the scheme?

Postscript: In an interesting twist, the Pennsylvania Republican Party previously acknowledged in an official statement that Donald Trump's campaign advised the state GOP to approve an alternate slate of electors — even though Trump lost the Keystone State — but Pennsylvania Republicans did not forge any materials. Rather, they created paperwork that said the pro-Trump electors would become actual electors if some court ever issued an order declaring the GOP ticket the winner in the state. That obviously never happened.

Second Postscript: The Detroit News reported this week that Michigan's attorney general's office said it is scrutinizing the bogus election materials as part of an "ongoing" investigation.