Politico reports, Jan. 6 panel ramps up investigation into Trump’s state-level pressure (excerpts):

The House committee investigating the Capitol attack has gathered thousands of records from state officials and interviewed a slate of witnesses as it attempts to retrace former President Donald Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election, particularly in four key states that swung the presidency to Joe Biden. They’re getting ready to take their work public, possibly as soon as the spring.


[T]he voluminous documents state election officials have sent the Jan. 6 committee, obtained by POLITICO through open records requests, underscore the depth of Trump’s pressure campaign directed at the typically lower-level administrators of presidential balloting. The emails, texts and phone recordings also add consequential context to previously reported incidents, such as Trump’s call to Georgia’s top elections investigator and Mark Meadows’ outreach to Georgia election officials.

The select panel asked states for any scrap of evidence to justify allegations of election fraud that Trump baselessly promoted, focusing much of its efforts on officials in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Those states found virtually no evidence of fraud, according to Thompson.

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Forged election documents in Michigan and Arizona

As Trump’s team pushed its discredited voter fraud narrative, the National Archives received forged certificates of ascertainment declaring him and then-Vice President Mike Pence the winners of both Michigan and Arizona and their electors after the 2020 election. [The actual forged documents.] Public records requests show the secretaries of state for those states sent those certificates to the Jan. 6 panel, along with correspondence between the National Archives and state officials about the documents.

Spokespeople for the Michigan and Arizona secretaries of state declined to comment on the documents. The offices confirmed that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, both Democrats, and their staff met with the [Jan. 6] panel in November.

“They mostly discussed election administration in Arizona, the 2020 elections, threats/harassment directed toward the office, and the Cyber Ninja’s partisan ballot review,” said Hobbs’ spokesperson C. Murphy Hebert.

Benson and her staff took questions from the committee on the 2020 election and events leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, according to Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Benson.

The National Archives sent emails to the Arizona secretary of state on Dec. 11, 2020, passing along the forged certificates “for your awareness” and informing the state officials the Archives would not accept them.

Arizona then took legal action against at least one of the groups who sent in the fake documents, sending a cease and desist letter to a pro-Trump “sovereign citizen” group telling them to stop using the state seal and referring the matter to the state attorney general.

“By affixing the state seal to documents containing false and misleading information about the results of Arizona’s November 3, 2020 General Election, you undermine the confidence in our democratic institutions,” Hobbs wrote to one of the pro-Trump groups.

In December 2020, the Arizona Republic reported Fake electors try to deliver Arizona’s 11 votes for Trump:

Copies of the documents obtained by The Arizona Republic show a group that claimed to represent the “sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona” submitted signed papers casting votes for what they want: a second term for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Mesa resident Lori Osiecki, 62, helped created a facsimile of the “certificate of ascertainment” that is submitted to formally cast each state’s electoral votes as part of an effort to prevent what she views as the fraudulent theft of the election.

Osiecki said she and others associated with a group called “AZ Protect the Vote” have attended the postelection rallies protesting the results, including the daylong meeting in Phoenix that included Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. She left that gathering upset that Gov. Doug Ducey wasn’t supporting the president’s efforts and she wanted to take further action. She and the others chose electors as a result.

[W]hile Osiecki’s elector documents do not appear to have been taken as genuine, they are part of a weekslong effort, led by Trump, his advisers, and involving Arizona Republican Party officials and three members of Arizona’s GOP congressional delegation casting doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in Arizona and nationally.

Arizona’s ersatz electors sent their choices using documents notarized by Melanie Hunsaker, who works in real estate. Her husband, Jamie Hunsaker, is a Trump enthusiast and one of the purported electors.

Donald Paul Schween, another would-be elector, has been active in Republican Party politics.

Federico Buck, another real estate veteran, is among the signatories. Others include Cynthia Franco, Sarai Franco, Stewart A. Hogue, Carrie Lundell, Christeen Taryn Moser, Danjee J. Moser, Jessica Panell and Peter Wang. Osiecki attested to the group’s eligibility as electors.

[Arizona] has a [criminal statute] for making, possessing or presenting what are known as forged instruments with an intent to defraud. A.R.S.§ 13-2002. That is a felony offense.

There is also A.R.S.§ 16-1004. Interference with or corruption of election officer; interference with voting equipment; violation; classification:

A. A person who at any election knowingly interferes in any manner with an officer of such election in the discharge of the officer’s duty, or who induces an officer of an election or officer whose duty it is to ascertain, announce or declare the result of such election, to violate or refuse to comply with the officer’s duty or any law regulating the election, is guilty of a class 5 felony.

These fake Republican electors definitely attempted to interfere with the Secretary of State’s certification of presidential electors by submitting a forged certificate of ascertainment under a forged state seal to the National Archives.

After learning what Melanie Hunsaker had notarized, another notary, Robert McDonald Jr. of Mesa, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office against her, saying she “participated in a fraudulent scheme.”

“As a duly sworn and commissioned Notary Public, myself, this fraud and malfeasance places a major black eye on those of us who do our duty faithfully and ethically,” he wrote in his complaint.

McDonald also suggested it may be illegal for notaries to notarize documents involving family members.

So what exactly has our partisan hack Attorney General Mark Brnovich aka “Nunchucks” (or is it numbnuts?) been doing to prosecute these fake Republican electors? The Attorney General’s Office has an Election Integrity Unit with a $530,000 budget (2019) to investigate election fraud. This is a clear cut case which does not take any prosecutor over a year to bring charges. These fake Republican electors should have already been prosecuted and made an example of election fraud. Are they not being prosecuted because they are Republican activists?

Rachel Maddow covered the reporting from Politico of Republicans in Michigan and Arizona creating fake elector letters pretending to certify Donald Trump and Mike Pence the winners of their states even though Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won them both, with the Michigan letter markedly similar to a previously reported forged Wisconsin letter.

Steve Benen adds, After 2020, Trump backers forged election docs in three states:

Wisconsin Republicans did not respond well to the state’s election results in November 2020, when Donald Trump narrowly lost the state. In fact, after the state Supreme Court affirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, and it came time for state officials to complete the process, some Republicans went in an especially ridiculous direction.

It was on Dec. 14, 2020, when Wisconsin electors met in the state capitol for an official ceremony in which the state formally assigned its electors for the electoral college. There wasn’t anything unusual about this: On the same day, every state did this, with Trump electors being assigned in states won by the GOP ticket, and Biden electors being assigned in states won by the Democratic ticket.

But as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the process in the Badger State became a little messier: While the actual electors were being assigned inside the state capitol in Madison, a group of Wisconsin Republicans quietly held a separate, fake ceremony — in the same capitol, at the same time — to cast electoral votes for Trump, despite his defeat in the state.

They then proceeded to forge the official paperwork and sent it to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the materials were legitimate. They were not.

As Rachel noted on last night’s show, that’s an important controversy in its own right, but what we didn’t know until yesterday was that Wisconsin wasn’t alone. Politico reported:

As Trump’s team pushed its discredited voter fraud narrative, the National Archives received forged certificates of ascertainment declaring him and then-Vice President Mike Pence the winners of both Michigan and Arizona and their electors after the 2020 election. Public records requests show the secretaries of state for those states sent those certificates to the Jan. 6 panel, along with correspondence between the National Archives and state officials about the documents.

I have three questions.

First, were these efforts legal? Groups of Republicans in three states signed their names to forged documents, pretended they were real, and sent them to government agencies. I’m not an attorney and can’t speak with any authority on whether this constituted fraud, but I’ll be eager to learn what legal experts have to say about the schemes.

The answer is no, it is not legal.

Second, did these GOP groups have any outside help? The materials out of Wisconsin and Michigan, for example, were practically identical, with matching formatting and fonts. Was this an amazing coincidence or was there some kind of behind-the-scenes coordination? If so, who played an organizing role?

The answer is yes, there was obvious coordination from Team Trump. The question is who are the individuals involved in this conspiracy for purposes of prosecution?

And third, exactly how many states featured pro-Trump Republicans creating forged election materials? We previously knew of one; now we know of three.

We will learn the answer, eventually.

Trump lost 25 states in 2020. How many of them included election opponents willing to send fake documents to government offices?

These are all questions the January 6 Committee is working on and will provide an answer.

UPDATE: (h/t The Daily Beast) MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has gotten her hands on five forgeries—and has noted that each of them look very similar. “It wasn’t one state. It wasn’t three states where they did this. It was at least five states where we have now obtained forged documents created by Republicans,” Maddow said Tuesday night. “They sent them into the government as if they were real documents… They actually created these fake documents purporting to be the real certifications of them as electors.” The MSNBC host then noted something suspicious: “They all match, exactly. Same formatting, same font, same spacing, almost the exact same wording. All of them.”