Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald in 2020. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Nevada Republicans who submitted a fake slate of presidential electors to Congress after the 2020 presidential campaign were choreographed by members of Trump’s legal and campaign teams, according to information released by the House panel investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.
Emails, texts, and other communications obtained by the committee also show that Nevada’s fake electors and Trump campaign officials knew that filing a slate of fake electors was in violation of Nevada law.
The emails and texts were referenced in transcripts of interviews the committee conducted with Nevada State Republican Chairman Michael McDonald and state party vice chair and Nevada State Republican National Committeeman James DeGraffenried.
McDonald and DeGraffenreid were among the six Nevada Republicans who signed the illegitimate Nevada electoral certificate in Carson City on Dec. 14, 2020 — the same day the legitimate signing was held virtually. In addition to McDonald and DeGraffenreid, Nevada’s fake document was signed by Duward James Hindle III, Jesse Law, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice.
McDonald and Degraffenreid were both subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. The transcripts of the committee’s subsequent interviews with the two men show that both declined to answer questions about their role as fake electors, citing the Fifth Amendment.
Both fake electors did, however, comply with the subpoena’s request to provide text messages, emails and other communications requested by the committee. (In June, McDonald’s cell phone was seized by the FBI as part of a separate Department of Justice investigation of fake electors.)
The emails and message demonstrate the Trump team’s coordination of fake electors in Nevada and five other states, part of an effort that was central to Trump’s failed plan for Congress to decline to certify Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.
The messages indicate a plan to submit fake electors was being developed even before the 2020 election. On Oct. 30, Nevada fake elector Meehan texted DeGraffenreid, “Been reading more on electoral college. If things get really sorted up, I could see (Gov. Steve) Sisolak sending one slate and (Secretary of State) Barbara (Cegavske) having to send out our slate. As she dislikes controversial situations, I wonder how that plays out.”
Asked by the Jan. 6 committee during testimony earlier this year why an alternate slate of electors would have been considered even before the election, McDonald and DeGraffenried both took the Fifth.
In a Dec. 10, 2020 email to McDonald, DeGraffenried and others, Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote: “Mayor Giuliani and others with the Trump-Pence campaign, including (Trump campaign officials) Justin Clark and Nick Trainer, asked me to reach out to you and the other Nevada electors to run point on the plan to have all Trump-Pence electors in all six contested states meet and transmit their votes to Congress on Monday, December 14.”
Asked what other communications they had with Trump’s associates regarding the coordination of submitting their electoral certificate, McDonald and DeGraffenreid took the Fifth.
They also took the Fifth when asked a series of questions related to the fact that submitting a slate of electors was not permissible under Nevada state law, which requires the secretary of state to be present at the signing, and also requires electors to commit to voting for the winner of the popular vote in the state.
Investigators cited a Dec. 9, 2020 memo from Chesebro titled “Statutory Requirements for December 14th Electoral Votes.”
“Nevada is an extremely problematic State,” the memo reads, “because it requires the meeting of the electors to be overseen by the Secretary of State, who is only supposed to permit electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote in Nevada.”
“If there were a vote in Congress to take Nevada away from Biden and Harris,” the memo continues, “presumably along with it would come a vote to overlook this procedural detail.”
In a Dec. 10, 2020 email to DeGraffenried, Chesebro wrote that Giuliani is “focused on doing everything possible to ensure that all the Trump-Pence electors vote on December 14th.”
“It may well be,” Chesebro continued, “that the electoral vote proceeds without the participation of the Secretary of State” in Nevada “on the view that these technical aspects of state law are unlikely to matter much in the end.”
Asked repeatedly about the specific points made in Chesebro’s communications, McDonald and DeGraffenreid took the Fifth.
The emails and texts disclosed in the transcripts released Wednesday also indicate the Nevada Republican Party maneuvering to keep a failed lawsuit alive so as to qualify Nevada as a “contested” state when Congress met to certify results.
A suit filed by the Nevada Republican Party and the Trump campaign challenging the election results was dismissed for lack of evidence on Dec. 4, 2020, and that ruling was unanimously upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court Dec. 8, 2020.
Texts and emails over the next few days showed Nevada Republicans were in communication with the Trump campaign about appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The communications also show a decision to “delay” filing the appeal at least until after the signing of the fake electoral certificate on Dec. 14.
“In your understanding,” McDonald was asked during his appearance before the committee, “was the purpose of a delay to ensure that the litigation was technically still pending when the elector ceremony happened?”
McDonald took the Fifth.
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