How the Trump fake elector scheme fizzled in four states

Part of Donald Trump’s plan to reverse his loss in the 2020 presidential election hinged on replacing legitimate electors in a handful of swing states with “fake electors.”

In theory, these bogus Republican slates in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin would cast their electoral votes for the incumbent — canceling out the popular vote for Joe Biden in their states.

The fake elector plan was detailed by U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol during a hearing this week.

Groups of fake electors met on Dec. 14, 2020, in those seven states, an investigative counsel working for the panel, Casey Lucier, said in a video presentation shown in Tuesday’s hearing.

The hearing revealed some intriguing details of the plot, which the U.S. House panel says Trump and his lawyers knew was illegal, and how it played out in four states in particular:


Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a self-described conservative Republican who campaigned for Trump in 2020, testified in person Tuesday about the pressure the Trump campaign put on him to revoke the state’s legitimate electors — and his steadfast refusal to participate.

Presidential elections in the United States are not straight popular vote contests, but are mediated by electoral college voters chosen by state voters, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who led much of the hearing Tuesday, reminded the audience.

Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, and outside counsel Rudy Giuliani were involved in a discussion near Thanksgiving 2020 about having fake electors meet, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Meadows, said.

Trump and Giuliani were also personally involved in a pressure campaign on state officials, according to committee testimony.

Rusty Bowers, Arizona House Speaker, testifies during the fourth hearing on the Jan. 6th investigation in the Cannon House Office Building on June 21, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Some time after the election, Bowers received a call from Trump and Giuliani, who wanted the Arizona speaker to convene a committee to hear supposed evidence of election fraud, Bowers testified.

Bowers asked for evidence of fraud. It never materialized, and he declined in the coming weeks to form the committee.

Bowers told the panel he then asked Giuliani what the end goal of forming the committee would be. Giuliani said a high-ranking Republican legislator had told the campaign there was a legal theory that would allow the Legislature to replace electors for Biden with electors for Trump, and that the proposed committee could facilitate that.

Bowers said he hadn’t heard that legal theory. When Giuliani pressed the point, the speaker refused more pointedly.

“I said, ‘You are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it,’” Bowers said he told Giuliani.

“’And I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me, and I would never do…

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