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11 'fake electors' from 2020, including Meadows and Giuliani, indicted in Arizona

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Some breaking news out of Arizona - a grand jury has indicted a slew of allies of former President Trump. This is related to their alleged efforts to keep him in power after Trump's 2020 election loss. KJZZ's Wayne Schutsky is here to fill us in. Hey, Wayne.

WAYNE SCHUTSKY, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: All right, so who exactly has been indicted here?

SCHUTSKY: This indictment that came down yesterday and was released today includes 18 total people. Eleven of them are named, and then seven are not named in this initial indictment because their names are redacted.

CHANG: OK.

SCHUTSKY: The 11 that were named are the so-called fake electors, the folks who, like some in other states, have submitted documentation that falsely claimed Trump won Arizona in 2020, when in fact Joe Biden won the state. Of the seven people who were indicted but names were redacted, NPR is able to identify some of them by details in the indictment that could only apply to them. Those are - those people are Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, along with Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.

CHANG: OK.

SCHUTSKY: The indictment also mentions five unindicted co-conspirators, including one whose name is redacted but who is described as a former president of the United States who made false claims about the election, so that one obviously pertains to Donald Trump.

CHANG: Right. And just to put a finer point on that, Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator here.

SCHUTSKY: Correct.

CHANG: Right? OK. And these are state charges once again in Arizona, not federal. What have state officials been saying about these charges so far?

SCHUTSKY: Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes is the one who kind of made the announcement today and released that copy of the indictment. She's basically saying that the people of Arizona elected President Biden and that these were efforts to deny that lawful transfer of power of the presidency and that this is just a natural part of the legal process that's needed to ensure democratic norms aren't attacked. Mayes was elected in 2022, took office in 2023, so that's after some of the law enforcement officers in other states who have brought these type of charges. Some Democrats criticized her for the pace of this election for taking so long to bring these charges, but she continually urged patience, saying, you know, this takes time, pointing out that she was elected later than some of those others. And now she's saying that the investigators she put on this case took the time necessary to put together the details and make sure that these charges can stick. The charges that were announced today for all of these folks include felony, fraud, forgery and conspiracy charges.

CHANG: OK. And tell us more about these so-called fake electors who are charged here. Who are they?

SCHUTSKY: It's a pretty prominent list of Republicans in Arizona, and for anyone who's been following this story, it's not really a surprise. Their names have been out there for quite a while. It includes sitting state senators Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern, who were some of the most outspoken Trump supporters in the Arizona legislature, along with former Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward and some other current and former party officials, which is a pretty big deal considering, you know, this is the state party. It oversees all aspects of this - of the party apparatus within the state. We haven't heard from many of these defendants yet, except I did get a statement from Senator Hoffman, who accused Mayes of weaponizing the government against her political opponents and basically said he thinks this is just an effort ahead of the upcoming elections to swing it in Democrats' direction.

CHANG: OK. And just to remind everyone, this is not the first state where so-called fake electors have been charged, right?

SCHUTSKY: No. This action makes Arizona the fourth state where the charges have been brought against individuals in these so-called fake elector schemes that sought to undermine Biden's victory over Trump. Prosecutors in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada have already charged individuals accused of participating in similar schemes. Another swing state, Wisconsin, fake electors actually admitted to their roles as part of a civil settlement there. And so we should add that Giuliani, Meadows and others also face charges in Georgia, where former President Trump, of course, has also been charged.

CHANG: Right. That is KJZZ's Wayne Schutsky. Thank you so much, Wayne.

SCHUTSKY: Yeah. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Wayne Schutsky
[Copyright 2024 KJZZ]
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