Arizona grand jury indicts 7 Trump allies, appearing to include Giuliani, Meadows

A grand jury has charged 11 Arizona Republicans and seven former aides to Donald Trump in a scheme to keep Trump in the White House by falsely certifying he won the state in 2020, appearing to include the former president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, announced the indictment had been issued on Wednesday. It alleges the slate of Republicans sometimes known as fake electors engaged in a conspiracy aimed at "preventing the lawful transfer of the presidency of the United States, keeping President Donald J. Trump in office against the will of Arizona voters, and depriving Arizona voters of their right to vote and have their votes counted."

The names of seven other individuals are redacted from the grand jury indictment, meaning they have not yet been served notice of the charges against them.

Though their names are redacted, as are the charges against them, details in the indictment make clear that many top allies of Trump’s, who led a pressure campaign to change the election result, are also facing charges in Arizona. Those individuals seem to include Giuliani, Mark Meadows and others.

Trump is, according to the document, “unindicted coconspirator 1.”

More: ‘Somewhat dicey' and ‘problematic’: Inside Trump's bid to have fake electors overturn 2020 election

The grand jury's decision could levy criminal consequences for an unprecedented plot to subvert the will of Arizona voters, one that has ruptured faith in elections and fueled election conspiracies that have taken root in GOP politics in the state. It comes as Mayes has promised to aggressively combat election conspiracies, offering a sharp contrast to her predecessor.

The grand jury, a panel of Arizonans who met in secret in recent weeks, heard evidence presented by Mayes’ prosecutors and ultimately decided there was enough to substantiate criminal charges.

The 11 electors are each charged with nine criminal counts, including conspiracy, fraudulent schemes and artifices, fraudulent schemes and practices, and six counts of forgery. Their lawyers, or the named defendants themselves, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The fake electors in Arizona are:

◾ Tyler Bowyer, an executive with Turning Point USA and a committeeman for the Republican National Committee.

◾ Nancy Cottle, who chaired the Arizona Trump electors.

◾ State Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek.

◾ State Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale.

◾ Jim Lamon, former U.S. Senate candidate.

◾ Robert Montgomery, former chair of the Cochise County Republican Committee.

◾ Samuel Moorhead, a former leader of the Gila County Republican Party.

◾ Loraine Pellegrino, the secretary of the Arizona Trump electors.

◾ Greg Safsten, former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party.

◾ Kelli Ward, former chair of the Arizona Republican Party.

◾ Michael Ward, Kelli Ward's husband and a GOP activist.

The electors who claimed Trump won

Mayes has been under immense political pressure to bring a case. Similar slates of electors in Michigan, Georgia and Nevada have already been charged for their role in the sweeping effort to keep Trump in power.

And a federal grand jury last year brought charges against Trump, alleging the former president conspired with others to disenfranchise voters and subvert President Joe Biden’s win. Trump is also facing charges in the Georgia case, which alleges he led a criminal enterprise and relies on a state law normally reserved for prosecuting mobsters.

Several of the Arizona electors have previously claimed they were merely offering Congress a backup plan, though nothing in the documents they sent to Congress and the National Archives backs up that assertion. Similar groups of electors in other states did include conditional language, but none was included in Arizona.

Biden carried Arizona in November 2020 by a 10,457 vote margin with nearly 3.4 million votes cast. It was Biden’s smallest margin of victory in any state and only the second time in 70 years that a Democrat won the state.

At the time, Trump had spent months furthering doubt about the election result. In the days after his loss, he and his aides unleashed a pressure campaign on GOP leaders in Arizona and other states.

They found some support in Arizona, while others rebuffed the president’s unfounded claims. That split in loyalties continues to divide the state’s Republican Party and grassroots support, threatening the party's ability to win elections in the swing state.

Arizona actually had two different groups of illegitimate GOP electors. The indictment made public on Wednesday names the slate that included more prominent Republican figures, some of whose involvement has already been well established by the Congressional committee investigating the violent break-in at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those 11 GOP electors met at the Arizona Republican headquarters in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, posting videos on social media of themselves casting their votes for Trump. They signed paperwork to submit to Congress claiming they were “duly elected and qualified” electors.

But that was a lie.

The same day, electors for Biden met to cast their votes in the Electoral College confirming the Democrat’s win. They met at an undisclosed location, citing security concerns tied to Trump’s refusal to accept his loss.

It was a procedural process that, prior to 2020, was a formality often overlooked by most Americans.

Investigation begins under a new attorney general in 2023

Mayes confirmed more than one year ago, in March 2023, that her office would investigate Arizona’s electors who falsely claimed to be legitimate. A former Republican who left the party in 2019 citing the growth of Trumpism and what she saw as shrinking room for moderates in the party, Mayes had been in office for two months. She won her election in November 2022 by 280 votes — one of the narrowest margins in state history.

That race and others on the ballot two years ago put to the test Arizonans' appetite for electing those who deny legitimate election results.

Mayes pledged to protect election workers and defend elections, where her Republican predecessor Mark Brnovich had tried to straddle election denialism. She promised a purposeful shift in focus within the office, which amounts to the state's largest law firm, and condemned Brnovich for sitting on a report for over a year that said his office “did not uncover any criminality or fraud.”

Her investigation at first focused on the 11 electors, but a trickle of information that has leaked out from the grand jury proceedings over the past several weeks has suggested Mayes cast a wider net.

Two Arizona congressmen who were among the loudest voices in support of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign, Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, received subpoenas.

Mayes’ office turned to Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro for information. Chesebro, who also aided prosecutors in Georgia (after he was indicted) and Nevada, wrote memorandums outlining the strategy to send alternate electors to Congress.

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Sending the documents from Trump electors “can prevent Biden from amassing 270 electoral votes on January 6, and force the Members of Congress, the media, and the American people to focus on the substantive evidence of illegal election and counting activities in the six contested States,” one memo from Dec. 6, 2020, reads. The memo suggests states that undertook the plan should also spread “messaging that presents this as a routine measure.”

The effort was anything but routine – it was criminal, the grand jury said.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump fake electors: Arizona AG unveils grand jury indictments