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Saturday, May 25, 2024
Criminal Justice

Two Wisconsinites named in Georgia indictment of Trump

The chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party and the lawyer who led former President Donald Trump’s litigation against the results of the 2020 election in the state were named in the indictment of Trump and several members of his inner circle filed in Fulton County, Georgia on Monday. 

The 98-page indictment includes references to Brian Schimming and Jim Troupis because of their work with Kenneth Chesebro, a Trump lawyer charged in the indictment who masterminded the attempt undertaken in Wisconsin and several other states to send false slates of Electoral College votes to Congress. 

The indictment mentions a Dec. 10, 2020, email from Chesebro to Schimming and a Dec. 12 meeting between the two men in which they discussed the plan for false slates of electors to cast votes for Trump, who had lost the election in Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes. 

Schimming’s mention in the Trump indictment is not the first time he’s been connected to the fake elector scheme and attempts to hold people accountable for the incident, which was one step on the path to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

During a deposition by the U.S. House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, former Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair Andrew Hitt told investigators that Schimming was brought on during the post-election legal wrangling to serve as a “right hand” to Troupis. 

Troupis is mentioned in the indictment because on Dec. 9, 2020, Chesebro sent him a memo outlining detailed instructions for how presidential electors for Trump should meet and cast their electoral votes for the former president. 

“It may seem odd that the electors pledged to Trump and Pence might meet and cast their votes on December 14 even if, at that juncture, the Trump-Pence ticket is behind in the vote count, and no certificate of election has been issued in favor of Trump and Pence,” Chesebro wrote in the memo to Troupis. “However, a fair reading of the federal statutes suggests that this is a reasonable course of action.”

The indictment against Trump and his advisers states that Chesebro’s communications with Schimming and Troupis were all an “overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.” 

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican Party was holding a news conference in response to President Joe Biden’s visit to Wisconsin touting investments in the state from his Inflation Reduction Act passed last year. During the news conference, party officials only allowed written questions about the presidential visit and ended the event after just one question was asked. 

Following the news conference, Schimming issued a statement in which he said the false electors met under the guidance of their attorneys and only because lawsuits challenging the results were still pending. 

“As stated previously, Republican electors met in accordance with state statutory guidelines, on the advice of attorneys, and with precedent, to preserve all legal options still pending before the courts,” Schimming said. “Had the courts ruled differently, the alternate electors would have been needed.”

However, the false electors cast their votes for Trump hours after the state Supreme Court had ruled 4-3 against Trump’s efforts in court to overturn the election results — meaning that any legal avenues in Wisconsin to change the results had already been denied. 

While slates of false electors have been charged with crimes in other states, including neighboring Michigan, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has so far declined to bring charges. 

On Tuesday, Kaul told CBS58 reporter A.J. Bayatpour he had “no comment right now” about charging Wisconsin’s false electors in the wake of the Georgia indictment. 

There is a pending lawsuit brought by the progressive voting rights law firm Law Forward seeking to have a judge declare that the electors acted unlawfully.

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