Maddow Blog | Indictments in GOP’s ‘fake elector’ scandal reach new heights

The Republican efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were multifaceted, but among the striking partisan tactics was the “fake electors” scheme: GOP officials and operatives in key states created forged election materials and sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the materials were legitimate. They were not.

Though the relevant players didn’t know it at the time, the controversy has become one of the most consequential political scandals in a generation, racking up indictment totals unseen since Watergate and Iran-Contra.

Consider, for example, this week’s developments.

Last fall, Kris Mayes, Arizona’s Democratic state attorney general, told CNN that her office was overseeing a “robust” investigation related to alleged criminal misconduct in the scheme. Evidently, she wasn’t kidding: NBC News reported on her office filing a series of new criminal charges in this case, including conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

The former president is described as “Unindicted Coconspirator 1” in the indictment.

As NBC News’ report added, the indictment also described a variety of prominent Republican figures who’ve been charged in the case but have not yet been served and whose names are redacted, including Meadows, Giuliani, Epshteyn, former Trump campaign and White House official Mike Roman, former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, former Trump attorney Christina Bobb, and John Eastman.

While there have been other indictments in the scandal, for some of these GOP figures, the Arizona charges represent their first confrontation with legal jeopardy.

Also charged in the Grand Canyon State yesterday was former Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward and Tyler Bowyer, the Republican National Committee’s Arizona committeeman and the chief operating officer of the Trump-aligned Turning Point USA.

All of this news coincided with news out of Michigan, where several Republicans were charged last summer in the scandal, and where an official from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office confirmed yesterday that Trump, Meadows, and Giuliani are unindicted alleged co-conspirators in the state prosecutors’ case.

For those keeping score, let’s count up the number of indictments currently pending in the scandal across multiple jurisdictions:

Arizona: 18 people have been indicted, including 11 fake electors and seven Trump aides.

Georgia: 19 people were initially indicted, including Trump, though some have since reached plea agreements with prosecutors.

Michigan: 16 people have been indicted, though there are several other prominent unindicted alleged co-conspirators.

Nevada: Six people have been indicted, each of whom served as fake electors.

A Washington Post report noted overnight that an investigation launched by Wisconsin’s attorney general is still ongoing — suggesting the total number of indictments might yet grow — though the scandal appears unlikely to lead to charges in New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Watch this space.

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