Subpoenas shed light on criminal probe into fake electors scheme

At the heart of Team Trump’s scheme to overturn the 2020 election results was a group of fake electors who could help challenge the legitimate election results.

And so, as regular readers know, Republicans in several states created forged election materials, pretending to be “duly elected and qualified electors.” They then sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the fake materials were legitimate. They were not.

As the story has unfolded, we’ve learned that members of Donald Trump’s team were directly involved in trying to execute this scheme. Making matters worse, Trump lawyers acknowledged privately that the fake electors weren’t legally valid — even as the Republican operation proceeded with the plot anyway.

Some Trump campaign lawyers distanced themselves from the scheme because it was so obviously dubious.

While we don’t know the full scope of the criminal investigation into Jan. 6, there is no doubt that the Justice Department cares a great deal about the fake electors. We know this for sure because, as The Washington Post reported, we’ve now seen some of the subpoenas.

Grand jury subpoenas issued last month to two Arizona state lawmakers show the breadth of the criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington into efforts by supporters of Donald Trump to use “false electors” to try to undo Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s not your imagination. If was about a month ago when we learned that two key Arizona Republicans — state Senate President Karen Fann and state Sen. Kelly Townsend — had received subpoenas from the FBI. They had plenty of company: Quite a few Arizona Republicans, including state GOP chair Kelli Ward, also received subpoenas.

As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones noted, “The growing list of subpoenas is a sign that Arizona could be as big a legal threat to Trump World as any state in the country.”

Yesterday’s revelations advanced the story by shedding light on exactly what it is the criminal investigators and the grand jury wants to know. From the Post’s report:

The documents released Monday cast a wide net for any communications that Fann and Townsend may have had with any member of the executive or legislative branch of the federal government; any representative or agent of Trump or his campaign; or Trump boosters Jenna Ellis, Bernard Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, Boris Epshteyn, James Troupis, Joe DiGenova, John Eastman, Joshua Findlay, Justin Clark, Kenneth Chesebro, Mike Roman or Victoria Toensing…. The subpoenas to Fann and Townsend seek all communications or documents exchanged with those who served as Arizona’s alternate electors, as well as communications with state Rep. Mark Finchem, a vocal “Stop the Steal” proponent now vying for the Republican nomination for secretary of state.

And if Fann and/or Townsend had any communications with GOP figures who helped assemble lists of fake electors, federal law enforcement wants to know about that, too.

Or put another way, when it comes to the fake electors scheme, the Justice Department apparently wants to know just about everything about every possible angle.

Time will tell whether the state senators help advance the investigation, but they’re certainly in a position to offer a unique perspective: In early December 2020, for example, Fann participated in a meeting with Team Trump about the election, and a few weeks later, Townsend wrote a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence, urging him not to “accept” the legitimate electors from her state.