Trump, allies are co-conspirators in Michigan fake electors case, agent testifies (2024)

Testimony offered in court Wednesday contended former President Donald Trump and several of his key allies are unindicted co-conspirators in the case of 15 individuals charged with a series of felonies for attempting to falsely cast Michigan's electoral votes in the 2020 election for Trump, who lost the state to President Joe Biden by more than 154,000 votes.

Howard Shock, the special agent with Attorney General Dana Nessel's office who compiled the affidavits used to charge the group, testified Wednesday that Trump and others were unindicted co-conspirators.

Shock's testimony Wednesday resumed the ongoing preliminary examination hearings in Ingham County's 54A District Court for some of the so-called fake electors, who face felony charges after attempting to cast electoral votes for Trump in 2020. Following the conclusion of preliminary exams, District Judge Kristen Simmons will rule if there is enough evidence to send the group to a jury trial.

"We've heard some testimony that there are some unindicted co-conspirators," said Duane Silverthorn, a public defender representing Michele Lundgren, of Detroit. He then listed a series of Republican officials Shock testified were unindicted co-conspirators, including former Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Trump himself, among others.

Wednesday was the sixth and final day of preliminary examinations for six of those charged by Nessel's office. The hearings began in December. Shock's comments signal that while Trump and his allies are not charged in Michigan, government investigators believe they participated in the alleged crimes with which they've charged the group of false electors.

Defense attorneys have maintained the false electors were acting in the event that Michigan’s election results were somehow “flipped” from Biden to Trump.They've also argued their clients were misled by the Trump campaign and its attorneys.

Trump, Meadows, Ellis and Giuliani have all been indicted in Georgia on charges stemming from trying to overturn 2020 election results there. Ellis has pleaded guilty.

Trump, allies are co-conspirators in Michigan fake electors case, agent testifies (1)

Shock's testimony Wednesday followed up cross-examination on Tuesday when he mentioned other Trump-aligned attorneys — Mike Roman and Kenneth Chesebro — as being involved in the fake electors plan. He testified that Chesebro, a Trump campaign attorney who has been credited with leading the fake electors plan, was interviewed as part of the investigation into Michigan’s slate of false electors.

“Do you remember Kenneth Chesebro telling you that he absolutely felt misled by the Trump campaign?” George Donnini — one of the attorneys representing Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan Kathy Berden, who is also charged — asked Shock on Tuesday.

“Yes,” Shock replied.

Chesebro pleaded guilty last October to participating in efforts to overturn Trump's 2020 loss in Georgia. The indictment in that case alleged Chesebro led a plan for Republican electors in Georgia to sign fake documents saying they were the state's electors in an attempt to cast votes for Trump, the Associated Press reported, similar to what occurred in Michigan.

None of the defense attorneys for the first group of individuals charged in Michigan opted to call witnesses of their own before the preliminary examinations concluded. Attorneys said they'd rely on their cross-examination of the government's witnesses, like Shock, to make their cases. The hearing concluded shortly before noon Wednesday.

It still could be several months before Simmons rules whether there is sufficient evidence to send the group to a jury trial. Before adjourning, Simmons informed attorneys she would not make a decision on bindover, or whether defendants are sent to trial, until after the conclusion of preliminary exams for the second slate of individuals charged. The first preliminary examination date for the remaining group is May 28.

There is no jury present for a preliminary examination. The standard of evidence is also lower in a preliminary examination — unlike in a trial where prosecutors have to prove the charge "beyond a reasonable doubt," a judge at a preliminary examination has to determine whether there is probable cause to uphold charges.

There have been months between hearing dates in the preliminary exam for the first group, which includes former Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock.

In total, Nessel's office has charged each individual with eight forgery- and election-related felonies. Initially, 16 individuals were charged, but James Renner had his charges dropped last October after reaching a cooperation agreement with prosecutors. Renner testified in February.

The forgery-related charges are each punishable by up to 14 years in prison and the election law forgery charges each punishable by up to five years in prison, according to complaints filed by Nessel's office.

Besides Renner, all those charged have pleaded not guilty.

ContactArpan Follow him on X (Twitter)@arpanlobo.

Trump, allies are co-conspirators in Michigan fake electors case, agent testifies (2024)


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