Meadows, Giuliani among indicted in Arizona in latest 2020 election subversion case

Meadows, Giuliani among indicted in Arizona in latest 2020 election subversion case
Meadows, Giuliani among indicted in Arizona in latest 2020 election subversion case

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — A grand jury in Arizona has handed up an indictment against former President Donald ’s allies over their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, including the fake electors from that state and several individuals connected to his campaign.

Boris Epshteyn, a former White House aide who remains one of Trump’s closest advisers; former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; and Rudy Giuliani are among those who have been indicted, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, announced the indictment Wednesday night, focusing on the 11 individuals who acted as pro-Trump electors in the state. The names of several other indicted defendants remain redacted, Mayes said in a statement Wednesday, until those people have been served.

“A state grand jury made up of everyday regular Arizonans, has now handed down felony indictments for all 11 Republican electors as well as several others connected to this scheme,” Mayes said. “These are serious indictments, but this is the first hurdle the state must pass in our constitutional criminal justice system. We intend to prove these crimes were committed beyond a reasonable doubt.”

While Trump is not among those charged in Arizona, the details in the indictment suggest he is “Unindicted Coconspirator 1.”

The indictment in Arizona includes nine counts, from conspiracy and forgery to engaging in fraudulent schemes. Because the indictment remains partially redacted, it is unclear what charges Trump allies such as Meadows, Epshteyn and Giuliani face.

“In Arizona, and the United States, the people elected Joseph Biden as President on November 3, 2020,” the indictment reads. “Unwilling to accept this fact, Defendants and unindicted coconspirators schemed to prevent the lawful transfer of the presidency to keep Unindicted Coconspirator 1 in office against the will of Arizona’s voters.”

The scheme, according to the indictment, called for the fake electors to fraudulently vote for Trump, “falsely claiming to be the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States from the State of Arizona.”

“Defendants deceived the citizens of Arizona by falsely claiming that those votes were contingent only on a legal challenge that would change the outcome of the election,” the indictment continues. “In reality, Defendants intended that their false votes for Trump-Pence would encourage Pence to reject the Biden-Harris votes on January 6, 2021, regardless of the outcome of the legal challenge.”

This scheme failed on January 6, 2021, when then-Vice President Mike Pence accepted the electoral votes for Joe Biden, the indictment says.

The case in Arizona adds scrutiny to actions taken on Trump’s behalf after the last election. It also comes as Trump’s legal team will argue before the Supreme Court Thursday that he’s immune from prosecution in the federal election interference case – at the same time Trump is on trial in New York related to hush money paid to cover up an alleged affair before the 2016 election.

Epshteyn has not been charged before in connection with 2020 post-election efforts to reverse Trump’s loss. Serving as a legal adviser to Trump, Epshteyn speaks to the former president regularly, and during certain stretches, multiple times a day. He is widely considered one of Trump’s most ferociously loyal advisers, since joining Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Epshteyn accompanied Trump to New York after his criminal indictment and sat with him in the courtroom while he was arraigned. He was also seen traveling with Trump to arraignments in both Georgia and Washington, DC. While he does not represent him in any of his current legal cases, Epshteyn has played a critical role in the hiring of many of Trump’s lawyers as well as in some of their departures.

After withdrawing from representing Trump in the special counsel’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, Timothy Parlatore, who was brought on by Epshteyn, said differences with Epshteyn spurred his departure.

“He did everything he could do to try to block us,” Parlatore said on CNN.

Others in Trump’s orbit have long said that Epshteyn’s brash behavior could be a liability for Trump.

While the names of several defendants in the Arizona case remain redacted because they have not yet been served, the indictment does describe their roles in the alleged plot.

Other individuals charged in the Arizona indictment but whose names have been redacted, the source familiar with the investigation told CNN, include Trump allies Mike Roman, a 2020 campaign official; Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis; and conservative attorney John Eastman.

Roman, Ellis and Eastman also were charged in the election subversion case in Georgia, as were Meadows and Giuliani. Ellis pleaded guilty to one charge in the Georgia case. The others have pleaded not guilty.

Meadows, whose name is redacted in the indictment but is listed as Trump’s chief of staff in 2020, “worked with members of the Trump Campaign to coordinate and implement the false Republican electors’ votes in Arizona and six other states,” the indictment says, and “was involved in the many efforts to keep (Trump) in power despite his defeat at the polls.”

The individual who CNN has identified as Giuliani is described as spreading false claims of voter fraud across the country after the 2020 election, falsely claiming Arizona officials “made no effort to find out” if the vote was accurate, and encouraging “Republican electors in Arizona and in six other contested states to vote for Trump-Pence on December 14, 2020,” the indictment says.

Other unnamed defendants allegedly worked to overthrow the 2020 election results by encouraging Pence to reject or delay the certification of the electoral vote on January 6, spreading false claims of voter fraud, encouraging the fake electors and working to implement the fake electors scheme in Arizona.

Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham told CNN in a statement that his client is innocent of any criminal conduct.

“The phenomenon of partisan lawfare grows more troubling by the day. Professor Eastman is innocent of criminal conduct in Arizona or any other place and will fight these charges as he has all the other unjust accusations leveled against him,” Burnham said.

Arizona state Sen. Jake Hoffman, one of the fake electors charged in the indictment, released a statement on X following the indictment.

“Let me be unequivocal, I am innocent of any crime, I will vigorously defend myself, and I look forward to the day when I am vindicated of this disgusting political persecution by the judicial process,” Hoffman wrote.

The Republican Party of Arizona also slammed the indictments in a statement Wednesday.

“Today’s indictments by Attorney General Kris Mayes represent a blatant and unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power, aimed solely at distracting the public from the critical policy debates our country should be focusing on as we approach the 2024 election,” the statement said.

Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs told CNN’s Abby Phillip Wednesday that she hoped to see those indicted held accountable.

“As Secretary of State I oversaw free, fair, secure elections in Arizona and defended the votes of millions of Arizonans,” Hobbs said on “NewsNight.” “I am confident that Attorney General Mayes conducted a fair and impartial investigation and grand jury process, and now the justice system will do its job.”

The Arizona case is the latest state-level prosecution aimed at schemes to upend Biden’s electoral victory. Prosecutors in Michigan, Georgia and Nevada also have brought criminal charges against some of the people who signed on as fake electors in those states. Investigators in Wisconsin are conducting a similar probe.

A grand jury empaneled in Maricopa County, Arizona, to investigate efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state met this week before Mayes announced the charges.

CNN previously reported that Arizona prosecutors had issued a series of grand jury subpoenas to people connected to Trump’s campaign and several individuals who served as fake electors from that state – a sign the probe was accelerating ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Some of the fake electors who were ultimately charged in Arizona recently appeared before the grand jury and cited their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, sources familiar with the probe told CNN.

Mayes initially focused her investigation on the 11 fake electors from Arizona and those who helped organize them, but the sources recently told CNN she also was looking into individuals tied to the former president’s national campaign.

“We conducted a thorough and professional investigation over the past 13 months into the fake electoral scheme in our state,” Mayes said Wednesday. “I understand for some of you today didn’t come fast enough. And I know I’ll be criticized by others for conducting this investigation at all. But as I’ve stated before, and will say here again today, I will not allow American democracy to be undermined.”

Several state-level officials from Arizona told the House Select Committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot that Trump and his allies tried to pressure them to decertify the state’s election results.

The fake electors for Trump convened at the state Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix on December 14, 2020. They broadcast themselves preparing to sign the documents, allegedly provided by a Trump campaign attorney, claiming that they were the legitimate representatives of the state’s electoral votes.

By that time, Trump’s loss in the state – by fewer than 11,000 votes – had already been certified by its Republican governor, affirming that Biden won Arizona in the 2020 presidential election. But in the weeks that followed, some of the fake electors continued to push for Pence to reject the legitimate Democratic slate of electors.

The fake elector scheme and pressure campaign on Pence are focal points of special counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment of Trump. — CNN


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