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Court hearings resume in alleged fake Michigan elector plot

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Six Michigan Republicans accused of trying to act as fake electors for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 returned to an Ingham County court for hearings on their felony charges this week.

Meshawn Maddock, Kathy Berden, John Haggard, Michele Lundgren, Mari-Ann Henry, and Amy Facchinello each face eight charges, including forgery-related crimes punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Each has pleaded not guilty.

They were in court this week for preliminary hearings to decide whether there's enough evidence for the case to move to trial.

The six are part of a group of 15 people charged in the case. They allegedly signed a document claiming the state’s Electoral College votes went to Trump rather than Joe Biden, despite that Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes.

The prosecution will need to prove the defendants knowingly committed forgery by sending a slate of false electors to both the National Archives and Congress. Attorney General Dana Nessel said the plan was hatched in the basement of the state Republican Party headquarters.

The determination of whether the case is bound over to circuit court for trial is expected over the summer — once the preliminary examinations for all 15 is complete.

A state investigator testified Wednesday that he considers former President Donald Trump and his White House chief of staff to be uncharged co-conspirators in the scheme.

Trump and Mark Meadows were among the names mentioned during the cross-examination of Howard Shock, whose work led to the forgery charges

A defense attorney, Duane Silverthorn, offered a series of names and asked Shock if they were “unindicted co-conspirators,” which means they weren't charged but could have been part of an alleged plot to put Michigan's electoral votes in Trump's column.

Prosecutors from the attorney general's office didn't object. Shock responded “yes” to Trump, Meadows, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and some high-ranking state Republicans.

Silverthorn then moved on to other questions.

“I'm surprised the question was even answered,” said Detroit-area attorney Margaret Raben, former head of a statewide association of defense lawyers.

“It's irrelevant — legally and factually irrelevant — that there are other people who could have been charged or should have been charged," said Raben, who is not involved in the case.

Meadows' lawyer, George Terwilliger, had a similar reaction when reached by The Associated Press. He declined further comment. Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung referred to the Michigan case as an “ongoing witch hunt,” and Giuliani political adviser Ted Goodman said the former New York mayor was proud to stand up for people with concerns about the election.

In Georgia, Trump, Giuliani and others are charged with conspiracy related to the filing of a Republican elector certificate in that state following the 2020 election. Meadows is also charged in Georgia but not in relation to the elector scheme. They have pleaded not guilty.

An indictment by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith charging Trump with plotting to overturn the election also accuses the former president in a fake elector scheme and identifies six unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators, including Giuliani.

Christopher Johnson is married with two daughters. Born and raised in Detroit, he is a floating fill-in host at Michigan Public.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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