LANSING, Mich. (AP) — One of 16 Michigan Republicans accused of taking part in a fake elector scheme filed a motion Tuesday asking a judge to dismiss charges after the state attorney general said the group had been “brainwashed” and truly believed that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
All 16 are facing eight criminal charges, including forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery, that were first announced in July by state Attorney General Dana Nessel. Investigators allege that they met following the 2020 election and signed a document falsely stating they were Michigan’s “duly elected and qualified electors.”
President Joe Biden won the state by nearly 155,000 votes, a result that was confirmed by a GOP-led state Senate investigation in 2021. Michigan is one of seven states where false Electoral College certificates were submitted declaring Trump the winner, despite confirmed results showing he had lost.
On Sept. 18, Nessel, a Democrat, told a liberal group during a virtual event that the false electors had been “brainwashed” and “genuinely” believed Trump won in Michigan’.
“They legit believe that,” Nessel said, according to the video first reported by The Detroit News.
Nessel also said that Ingham County, where the cases will be tried, “is a very, very Democratic-leaning county.”
An attorney for one of the accused fake electors, Mari-Ann Henry, 65, said those comments “nullify the government’s entire case” and the charges should be thrown out.
George MacAvoy Brown, an attorney for Henry, said in a statement that the charges require proof that Henry “intended to cheat or deceive someone” and that Nessel’s comments show that wasn’t the case.
The motion for dismissal was filed in Ingham County District Court.
Danny Wimmer, a spokesperson for Nessel’s office, said in response to a request for comment that the office “will respond to the motion in our filings with the Court.”
Attorneys for others charged in the case have also been critical of Nessel’s comments. Nick Somberg, who represents former Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they prove the charges hold “no merit” and that this is a “political case.”
In a separate court filing obtained by AP, another defendant, Amy Facchinello, claims that the charges stem from conduct that came “at the direction” of then-President Trump and other federal officers.
All 16 of the defendants have pleaded not guilty. Henry and several others, including Maddock and Kathy Berden, Michigan’s Republican national committeewoman, are scheduled to appear for a preliminary examination hearing on Oct. 12.