Agent: Emails show Trump attorney sent fake certificate to GOP electors days before attempted vote

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On Oct. 10, ex-Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, left, conferred with his defense lawyer, Scott Grubman, during a Fulton County court hearing in the sweeping 2020 presidential election interference case. Two weeks later, Chesebro returned to court Oct. 20 to plead guilty to his role in trying to illegally overturn the 2020 election results. (Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP)

Four days before a group of Michigan Republicans gathered in Lansing to sign documents claiming to be Michigan’s state electors in 2020, a copy of the false certificate was emailed to a member of the group by an attorney for then-President Donald Trump.

That information came from Howard Shock, a special agent investigator with the Michigan Department of Attorney General, who testified Tuesday and was back on the stand Wednesday, as a preliminary exam continued for six defendants facing felony charges for submitting the false electoral votes. 

Shock testified that on the evening of Dec. 10, 2020, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro emailed the certificate alleging the former president won Michigan’s 16 electoral votes to Marian Sheridan, one of the 15 people charged in the scheme. 

Chesebro has admitted to orchestrating a multi-state fake elector plot to present fake elector documents in favor of a Trump presidency, and pleaded guilty last October to a felony count in Georgia as part of that plot. He is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the Michigan case, along with Trump, and several others, including Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani; Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and Chris Velasco, who worked for Trump’s campaign in Michigan.

Sheridan reportedly initiated the exchange with Chesebro in an email whose subject line was “Urgent – Trump/Pence campaign asked me to contact you to coordinate December 14th board voting by Michigan electors.”

“Hi, Kenneth, while Kathy Berden is an elector, so am I. And I believe your email was intended for her,” Shock testified the email said. “Nonetheless, I believe I can be more effective in getting the other 15 electors involved in this effort for December 14th.”

Shock then said Chesebro responded with an attachment that contained a certificate of the votes of Michigan electors for Trump and Pence along with a signature page.

“And looking at that first page of the document that was emailed to Ms. Sheridan, is the number of votes already on there?” LaDonna Logan, an assistant attorney general, asked Shock.

“Yes,” he replied.

“And how many?”


“This is on December 10, 2020. Is that correct?” Logan asked.


That testimony seemingly corroborates what prosecutors contend was a knowing attempt to falsely portray Trump as the winner of Michigan’s electoral votes despite the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certifying Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote win more than two weeks earlier.

Four days later, on Dec. 14, 2020, the defendants met at the Michigan Republican Party headquarters and signed a number of documents as the “duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Michigan,” including the document sent by Chesebro submitting 16 electoral votes for Trump and Pence. 

Shock further testified that on the evening of Dec. 14, 2020, Sheridan sent Chesebro a follow-up email that simply said; “We did it!”

Under cross-examination, Shock revealed that the email exchange was provided to him by Chesebro and his attorneys during a four-hour interview last December. Shock also indicated that there had been discussions to call Chesebro as a witness at some point.

Shock then spent most of the rest of the day Wednesday being hammered by defense attorneys for his inability to recall specific details that connected their clients to various pieces of evidence that prosecutors say links them to the conspiracy.

Among them was David Gilbert, the attorney for defendant Kenneth Thompson, who asked Shock about the results of a search warrant that was issued to Meta, the parent company of Facebook. He specifically asked the investigator how he linked Thompson to a Facebook page in the name of Kenneth A. Ration.

“How did you associate it? What information did you use to make that association?” Gilbert asked.

“I don’t recall, but typically it’s through emails, phone numbers, stuff like that,” responded Shock.

“So you don’t know how you’d link that to Mr. Thompson?”

“I said I don’t recall.”

Clearly frustrated, Gilbert again tried to get Shock to say how he linked the account to his client, calling it “pretty important information.”

When Shock twice again said he couldn’t recall, Gilbert objected to the search warrant results being entered into evidence.

Ingham County Judge Kristen Simmons then ordered a recess so Shock could refresh his memory, one of several breaks the investigator would need on Wednesday.

When court resumed, Shock said he linked the account to Thompson using registration data including phone numbers. 

Gilbert also questioned Shock if he could prove the false certificate was actually inside the envelope that several of the defendants tried to deliver to the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing on Dec. 14, 2020.

“It could have been empty?” asked Gilbert.

“It could have been,” responded Shock.

Shock was also grilled about who exactly was present at the state GOP headquarters that day, and what exactly was said to the defendants prior to their signing the false certificate.

When Michael Bullotta, the attorney for Rose Rook, concluded Shock didn’t know what they were told, especially by Trump campaign attorney Shawn Flynn, the investigator said he was basing his conclusions on “the totality of the investigation and the information that I obtained during the investigation.”

The exam continues Thursday for six of the defendants; Sheridan, Thompson, Rook, along with William Choate, Clifford Frost, and Mayra Rodriguez.

Three others, Stanley Grot, Timothy King, and Kent Vandwerwood, had their cases continued to later dates.

Another six had their exams held last month after Simmons split the defendants into two groups. The hearings will result in her ruling whether or not prosecutors have enough evidence to send the case to trial.


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