Wisconsin fake elector tells ‘60 Minutes’ he was afraid of Trump supporters

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MADISON - The former chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party in a new interview claims he sent Congress paperwork he signed posing as an elector for Donald Trump following the former president's 2020 election loss out of fear for his safety from the candidate's supporters.

Andrew Hitt, who was chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin during the 2020 election, offered the explanation for his participation in a scheme designed by Trump and his allies to stay in power after losing reelection during an episode of CBS' "60 Minutes" that will air Sunday evening.

In a clip provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by "60 Minutes," Hitt says he was scared of what Trump supporters would do to him or his family if he did not sign the paperwork and courts later overturned President Joe Biden's victory in Wisconsin.

"... If I didn't do that, and the court did throw out those votes, it would have been solely my fault that Trump wouldn't have won Wisconsin," Hitt told "60 Minutes" correspondent Anderson Cooper. "Can you imagine the repercussions on myself, my family if it was me, Andrew Hitt, who prevented Donald Trump from winning Wisconsin?"

But by the time Hitt and nine other Republicans met in the state Capitol to sign the paperwork claiming to be electors for Trump, the state Supreme Court had already confirmed Biden's win and federal judges had tossed lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump's loss. An appeal of one of the federal rulings was filed the morning of the day the Republicans met in the state Capitol to sign the false paperwork but the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later upheld the decision to toss Trump's lawsuit, according to federal court records. An appeal of that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court was later rejected by the justices in March 2021.

Biden beat Trump by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin. Trump sought recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, which confirmed Biden's win. Trump sued and the state Supreme Court upheld the results on a 4-3 vote on Dec. 14, 2020.

Less than an hour later, Democrats met in the state Capitol to cast the state's 10 electoral votes for Biden.

At the same time, the fake Trump electors gathered in another part of the Capitol to fill out the paperwork claiming Trump had won. They submitted their filings to Congress, the National Archives, a federal judge and then-Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette.

Wisconsin Republicans meet in a state Capitol hearing room on Dec. 14, 2020 to sign paperwork claiming to be electors for Donald Trump despite his election loss.
Wisconsin Republicans meet in a state Capitol hearing room on Dec. 14, 2020 to sign paperwork claiming to be electors for Donald Trump despite his election loss.

At the time, the fake electors said they held the meeting to ensure the state's electoral votes were cast for Trump if a court later determined he was the true winner of the state.

Andrew Hitt tells Anderson Cooper 'it was not a safe time'

When asked by Cooper if he was scared of Trump supporters in Wisconsin, Hitt said "it was not a safe time."

"If my lawyer is right, and the whole reason Trump loses Wisconsin is because of me, I would be scared to death," Hitt said.

During a February 2022 deposition with the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Hitt testified he was concerned about his physical safety while signing the paperwork.

"There was just a general concern about — about safety. And ... how we were going to keep everybody safe if somebody wanted to disrupt something or if there was a protest that would occur," Hitt said, according to the deposition transcript.

"I also, throughout this time, got several phone calls to my office that my secretary relayed to me demanding to know my exact location ... I never verified, but I got a lot of threatening emails, quite frankly, from both sides of the political aisle. And so it was a volatile time, and our electors were worried, and so was I."

In text messages released as part of the final report from Jan. 6 committee, Hitt relayed concerns about the fake elector plan to the party's executive director before the paperwork was signed.

“I am def concerned about their inquiry,” Hitt texted the state GOP's executive director Mark Jefferson when he learned of the plot that followed Trump's 2020 election loss. “I hope they are not planning on asking us to do anything like try and say we are only the proper electors.”

“These guys are up to no good and its (sic) gonna fail miserably,” he texted a colleague on Dec. 12, 2020, after receiving a message about discussing the fake elector plan with Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani.

In another exchange, Hitt said he would not side with Trump "if he goes after our guys," referring to Trump's criticism of Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election.

Hitt also texted Jefferson, "Tomorrow is going to be wild," after discussing which of three rooms in the Capitol to hide in with Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Bob Spindell to avoid media scrutiny of the paperwork signing because both Hitt and Spindell were public figures.

Republicans in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada also signed documents purporting to be electors. Republicans in New Mexico and Pennsylvania filled out paperwork saying they should be considered electors if courts found Trump had won their states.

Michigan’s attorney general filed felony charges in July against 16 Republicans in that state who acted as fake electors for Trump, accusing them of submitting false certificates that confirmed they were legitimate electors despite Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Trump has been indicted over his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — charges that focus heavily on the fake elector strategy.

In Wisconsin, Attorney General Josh Kaul is reportedly investigating the fake Trump elector scheme but Kaul has not discussed the alleged probe nor confirmed its existence.

CNN reported in December that Kenneth Chesebro, a Wisconsin native and former campaign attorney for Trump, was helping investigators in at least four states, including Wisconsin, who are probing the scheme to overturn the 2020 election.

Hitt and the other false electors also recently settled a civil lawsuit filed by Biden's real 2020 electors. As part of the settlement, the 10 Republicans acknowledged their actions were part of an attempt to overturn an election and agreed not to serve as electors for Trump in the future or participate in the transmission of such documents again, among other terms.

In the statement released by the false Trump electors, the Republicans wrote they met in the Wisconsin State Capitol to sign paperwork falsely claiming to be electors to be "in compliance with requests from the Trump campaign and Republican Party of Wisconsin."

"The Elector Defendants took the foregoing action because they were told that it was necessary to preserve their electoral votes in the event a court challenge may later change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin. That document was then used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results," the Republicans wrote.

Hitt also has said he believes the group of Republicans were tricked by the Trump campaign to participate in the scheme and pledged not to vote for Trump in 2024.

Lawrence Andrea of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Molly Beck can be reached at molly.beck@jrn.com.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin fake elector tells '60 Minutes' he feared Trump supporters