The great pretenders
Rudy Giuliani, officials from former President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, and an anchor for pro-Trump network One American News (OAN) were intimately involved in an elaborate effort to send illegitimate electoral certificates to the National Archives and Congress from seven states President Biden won, CNN and The Washington Post reported Thursday evening, citing people with direct knowledge of the scheme, plus public comments by those involved.
Giuliani oversaw the effort, including participating in at least one of the planning calls with GOP state operatives, and Trump's campaign worked to assemble the ersatz electors on Dec. 14, 2020, and line up replacements for 15 Trump electors who declined to participate in the scheme, CNN and the Post report.
The gatherings of the "alternate" electors was not secret — Arizona GOP officials posted video of the fake certificate signings and OAN covered them instead of the legitimate electoral college vote on Dec. 14 — but the nuts-and-bolts involvement of Giuliani and the Trump campaign, and the coordinated scheme's integral part of a larger plan to overturn Biden's victory, are new information. CNN, for example, posted newly obtained audio of Michigan Trump elector Meshawn Maddock saying the Trump campaign asked them to push the illegitimate electors.
CNN's Anderson Cooper called the scheme "just nuts" on Thursday night. "It's like a clown car on fire."
"By the time of the electoral college vote, efforts by Trump and his supporters to overturn the results had been rejected by at least 86 judges, including nine Supreme Court justices." the Post notes. The electoral pretenders from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia still signed fake electoral certificates and sent them to the National Archives. Trump electors from Pennsylvania and New Mexico convinced the Trump campaign to let them include a caveat that they were only electors-in-waiting, CNN reports.
Trump campaign officials and others involved in the plot said at the time — and continue to maintain — they were just preparing an alternate slate of electors should Trump prevail in court or state legislatures. "In ways that were not publicly known until months later, however, the rival slates were leveraged as evidence in last-ditch efforts to give Vice President Mike Pence the ability to reject Biden's victory when he presided over the electoral vote count in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021," the Post reports.