Three fake electors charged in Georgia election probe seek to move cases to federal court

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Lawyers for three Georgia Republicans who participated in the so-called fake electors scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election argued at a hearing Wednesday that their cases should be moved from state to federal court.

David Shafer, Shawn Still and Cathy Latham were among the 18 co-defendants indicted with former President Donald Trump on felony charges in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. The sweeping 41-count indictment charged all 19 defendants with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Shafer, Still and Latham are among the 16 Georgians who acted as false electors for Trump in Georgia in 2020. They, along with multiple unnamed, unindicted co-conspirators, “unlawfully falsely held themselves out as the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from the State of Georgia,” according to the indictment. They were variously charged with multiple counts, including impersonating a public officer, first-degree forgery, false statements and writings, criminal attempt to commit filing false documents and other offenses.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones held an evidentiary hearing Wednesday on the three defendants' efforts to move the trial venue. Earlier this month, Jones denied former Trump House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ bid to move the Georgia criminal case against him to federal court, ruling that his alleged involvement in efforts to pressure state leaders to overturn the 2020 election results was not part of his official duties as a government official. On Monday, Jones also heard arguments from lawyers for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, a co-defendant in the Georgia election interference case, on a similar bid to move his case to federal court.

Shafer, a former Georgia GOP chairman and state senator, played a key role in organizing the Trump campaign slate of false electors in the battleground state by convening them in the state Capitol in Dec. 2020, where they signed a certificate falsely declaring Trump’s victory. He faces eight counts, including violating Georgia's RICO act, impersonating a public officer, forgery, making false statements and writings, and attempting to file false documents.

Still also acted as one of the 16 fake electors who signed paperwork falsely claiming Trump won the state in 2020. He faces seven counts, including violating Georgia's RICO act, impersonating a public officer, forgery, making false statements and writings, and attempting to file false documents.

Latham is the former chair of the Coffee County GOP. She was seen in surveillance video escorting Trump supporters into restricted areas of the county election office, where they allegedly breached voter data. Latham denied being personally involved in the breach. She faces 11 charges, including conspiring to commit election fraud, violating the state's RICO Act, impersonating a public officer, forgery in the first degree, making false statements, attempting to file false documents, and conspiring to commit computer theft.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis led a sprawling two-year investigation into whether Trump and his allies “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections.” She convened a special grand jury last year to question witnesses and examine evidence in the case. The panel heard from 75 witnesses.

The 98-page indictment includes a focus on the so-called fake electors. Prosecutors indicated at least 30 unindicted co-conpiators in the indictment, some of whom are alleged to have participated in the false elector scheme. At least eight of Georgia’s “fake electors” have been granted immunity in the Fulton County district attorney’s probe into Trump and his allies’ alleged interference in the 2020 election, according to a May court filing.

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