Three Georgia fake electors charged in former President Donald Trump’s election interference case Friday argued that Trump campaign officials ordered them to falsely claim he won the state.
Former state Republican Party Chair David Shafer, sitting state Sen. Steven Still and GOP operative Cathleen Latham all say they signed documents claiming to be legitimate 2020 electors from the Peach State because they were told to do so by lawyers for Trump.
“(Still) was acting at the direction of the incumbent president of the United States,” an attorney for Still argued in a court filing. “The president’s attorneys instructed Mr. Still and the other contingent electors that they had to meet and cast their ballots.”
The three fake electors did not explain why they obeyed anyone’s orders to sign the false documents or do anything else illegal.
The trio made the claims in filings seeking to get their cases moved from state court in Atlanta’s Fulton County to federal court on the grounds that they were effectively acting as agents of Trump or other federal government officials.
That appears to be a legal Hail Mary since generally federal employees can only argue for such a move. Legal analysts agree that ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have the strongest possible argument for such a move.
But the claims could end up being an unexpected boon to the prosecution because they effectively implicate Trump and his attorneys, who are all among 19 co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering case.
The claims suggest the three electors may end up flipping to testify against those higher up in Trump’s orbit as the case progresses.
Other Georgia fake pro-Trump electors have reportedly cooperated with prosecutors and offered a similar account of why they signed the bogus paperwork claiming Trump was the winner of the presidential election in the state when he really lost.
The last of Trump’s 18 co-defendants turned themselves in for processing in the case at an Atlanta jail in advance of a noon Friday deadline set by District Attorney Fani Willis.
Trump himself flew down from his New Jersey golf resort to be arrested for the fourth time in recent months. He flashed a glowering grimace in the first-ever mug shot taken of a former president.
Co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro, a former Trump campaign lawyer, has been given an Oct. 23 trial date. But it’s still unclear if Trump and the others will be tried together with him or separately at a later date.
They all face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years if convicted of violating Georgia’s powerful RICO law. Unlike other Trump charges, they could not be pardoned by either the president or Georgia’s governor.
Trump and the others are accused of conspiring to steal the 2020 election in a wide-ranging scheme including spewing bogus claims of widespread voter fraud and enlisting the fake electors who claimed Trump won the state even though President Biden was certified the winner.