Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the current chairperson of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, floated the possibility of referring the GOP fake elector scheme to the Justice Department. That multi-state scheme involved essentially falsifying electoral votes on Trump’s behalf in a slew of states where Biden won, and at the federal level, a plan put forward by conservative lawyer John Eastman, who had the backing of then-President Trump himself, involved then-VP Mike Pence rejecting Biden’s wins from certain states due to the competing slates of electoral votes. The problem is, though, that the Trump votes from these states didn’t have any legitimate legal grounding.
The fact that there was a draft executive order ordering the defense secretary to seize voting machines really says it all. Trump and his allies were trying whatever they could think of to overturn the election and keep Trump in office.
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 24, 2022
A referral from the riot investigation panel wouldn’t be legally binding on the Justice Department, which would be tasked with actually deciding whether to bring charges, but any referral would no doubt have a considerable deal of evidence behind it. As Reuters summarized, the “U.S. House probe of the deadly assault on the Capitol will share with federal prosecutors any evidence of potential crimes aimed at pushing phony Republican electors in states won by Democratic President Joe Biden,” Thompson has revealed. As Thompson explained when asked whether he possessed evidence regarding who was responsible for the fake electoral vote plot:
‘If we… determine specifically individuals who did this, we will make the referral to the Justice Department. We’re not a criminal entity, that’s the Department of Justice, but we are concerned that documents have been filed saying they were individuals responsible for conducting and certifying elections, and they are not. And when you falsify documents, in most instances, that’s a criminal act.’
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 23, 2022
The state Attorney Generals in Michigan and New Mexico have already formally referred the matters of their respective states’ parts of the overall scheme to federal authorities, and in Wisconsin, the office of the Milwaukee County District Attorney recently suggested that the matter would be suited to be taken up by state or federal prosecutors. Wisconsin state Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) recently said that he thinks it’s “critical that the federal government fully investigates and prosecutes any unlawful actions in furtherance of any seditious conspiracy” — an offense with which riot-tied individuals were just recently charged for the first time. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) has also formally requested an investigation into the issue by federal authorities, insisting that “[when] individuals lie and commit fraud about our elections and get away with it, it shatters the most basic levels of trust we have in our democracy.”
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) January 24, 2022